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How We Grieve

Someone once said, "Grief is reaching out for someone who's always been there, only to find when you need them the most, one last time, they're gone." We think there is a lot of truth in those words.

Why Do We Grieve?

grief activities for adultsThe death of a loved one is life's most painful event. People's reactions to death remain one of society's least understood and most off-limit topics for discussion. Often, grievers feel totally alone in dealing with their pain, loneliness, and isolation. And they find themselves asking the question, "Why do we grieve?" 

Grief is a natural emotion that follows death of someone dear to you and to one degree or another, it hurts. It is like an open wound that must heal.

At times, it can seem as if this healing will never happen. And sometimes the healing process can take much less time than we have been led to believe. Grieving is purely an individual experience.

Grief Activites for Adults

So, why do we grieve? The ultimate goal of grief and mourning is to take you beyond your initial reactions to the loss. The therapeutic purpose of grief and mourning is to get you to the place where you can live with the loss in a healthy way. To do this, you have to make some necessary changes in your life:

  1. Change your relationship with your loved one recognizing he or she is now gone. Develop new ways of relating to him or her. Take comfort in knowing your relationship will continue; it will just be different.

  2. Develop a new sense of yourself to reflect the many changes that occurred when you lost your loved one.

  3. Take on physically and mentally healthy new ways of being in the world without your loved one.

  4. Find new people, objects or pursuits to redirect your emotional investment from the one you placed in your relationship with the deceased.

The bottom line of these grief activities for adults for grief and mourning is to help you recognize that your loved one is gone. You must then make the necessary internal, psychological changes as well as the necessary external, social changes, to accommodate this reality. It all takes time. 

If you would like additional grief support, or want to explore the answer to the question, "Why do we grieve?" in more depth, please call us. We are here to help you through all the moments after loss.

How We Grieve : Men vs Women

Men and women need different kinds of support during the grieving process. Our society certainly treats the genders differently; socialization for boys is still far different from that of girls. These socialized differences, coupled with basic biological characteristics, define us as adult men and women.

They also define the way we mourn our loved ones. Thomas R. Golden writes, in Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing, "These basic differences lead to dramatically different strengths and paths in processing emotions."

Other researchers suggest we view gender differences in grieving as guidelines and not to have rigid expectations based on gender. Certainly, not all women are the same and that can also be said of men.

how we grieve girl 2With that said, according to Golden, a woman "usually has a system of support in place in which intimacy is the keyword. This network of friends or family will often encourage the sharing of grief as a means to connect and therefore become more intimate." Women are also, by and large, more comfortable and more skillful in using words to express their feelings with members of this support system. The people at Child Bereavement UK tell website visitors:

"Women tend to be loss-oriented and are very much concerned with their feelings. They want to focus on their loss by remembering the person who has died. They have a need to express their emotions, to cry and to be sad."

Unfortunately, most men don't have a strong support system. As Thomas Golden notes, men highly value "independence and autonomy and sharing grief could be a threat to that. By revealing his grief to another man, he would be putting himself one or more rungs down on the hierarchy," one which "values action and what can be done about things, not emotional connection."

why do we grieve manUnlike women, men are "less efficient in processing their grief verbally." Their strength lies in taking action. Golden offers a simple example of action: opening a family picture album. "It is an action with a beginning and an end", writes Golden, which "marks the boundaries of the experience for a man." In addition to taking action, men choose to:

  • Take charge and engage in problem-solving
  • Be strong and support others
  • Focus on thinking instead of feeling

Men see death and grieving as a challenge to be overcome and a test of their masculinity. In trying to overcome the challenge, they will commonly:

  • Return to normal activity as soon as possible
  • Express anger more than women
  • Try not to think about their loss

What does this mean for you? By recognizing your gender-based characteristics, you empower and add energy to your grief work. By understanding your weaknesses, you can attempt to correct them by turning to allies of the opposite gender to balance your bereavement. You may wish to explore the ways your gender helps define your bereavement by cultivating a practice of journal writing.

If you would like additional grief support, or want to explore the answer to the question, "Why do we grieve?" in more depth, please call us. We are here to help you through all the moments after loss.