Bereavement specialists used to refer to the so-called five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Grief is more of a roller coaster than a step-by-step process, and reactions come and go in seemingly random order. You may try to deny it, run from it, hide from it, but it is part of us.
It seemed an easy way to define some fairly common reactions to the death of a loved one. It may help to see grief as a blessing, however difficult to bear, because it honors the person or people we love.
While each individual’s needs and motivations are unique, this bond of loss creates a connection that goes beyond the weekly circle.
Often groups evolve and become a network of friends who share more than their grief – they share their joy.
Rather, there are reactions, and those reactions range from the physical to the emotional, cognitive, spiritual, and behavioral.If word of mouth does not work, a little Internet surfing may turn up something.You’re angry at your lost love, you’re angry at the Powers That Be, you’re even angry at yourself – for not doing more to save a life. You might experience a profound, unexpected reaction to the death of your spouse years later, perhaps triggered by an emotional event of one kind or another – such as the marriage of your son or daughter, an accident barely avoided, the birth of a grandchild, or something as simple as a memory triggered by an aroma. If your grief becomes disabling, if your anxiety becomes overwhelming and paralyzing, and certainly if your behavior becomes destructive to yourself or others, then seek professional help. Many men who have participated in groups report that they have undergone considerable transformation.In the end, though, the process of grieving helps you let go of anger and allows you to be open and loving to those you do love, and maybe even to someone you’ll love in your future. As Thomas Golden writes in Swallowed by a Snake: “Grief is like manure: if you spread it out, it fertilizes; if you leave it in a big pile, it smells like hell.”The message here is to look for support. Share your feelings, spread them out in a safe environment, whether in therapy or a men’s support group. Granted, they may have done that even without the support of a group experience. Yes, there’s a hole in your soul, a missing of someone that no one or no thing can replace.
As grieving men reach this understanding and appreciation, they begin to move on.
Grief counseling, as found in men’s group sessions, may no longer be necessary.