FYI – Guys grieve too!

Hi there.  This is C, the husband.  I have been thinking about doing a post for some time now, and now seems as good a time as any other so here it goes…

This post is about guys and grief.  Yes, guys feel grief.  I feel grief.  Perhaps we feel it in a different way, but we do feel it.  Just because I am not crying a lot does not mean I am not sad.  I am sad…very sad.  Sad that we lost our baby and sad that it feels like we are right back at the starting point.

I’m also angry.  I’m not angry at anyone per se, but just angry at the world.  Why did this have to happen to us?  What kind of world would allow this to happen to a couple who have been trying so hard and for so long to start a family?  I think about punching holes in the walls.  That, of course, wouldn’t solve anything, but it would feel pretty good (provided I don’t punch the wall where a stud is).

I’m also angry that people (most people anyways) seem to think that guys don’t grieve….or perhaps they know we grieve but they don’t want to hear about it from us.

I’m astonished at how many people, including the people I work with, have asked me “how’s your wife doing?”  Its great that they are concerned for her well-being.  They listen to the answer and then walk away and carry on with their day.  Not many of them (maybe 25%…maybe less) ask how I am doing.

Do they assume I am okay?  Am I supposed to be okay?  I’m not okay.

But perhaps more interestingly, my friends…my guy friends…have said nothing.  Pretty much nothing.  And it turns out that this is consistent experience among the other males in our support group…guys say nothing.  I had one friend come for a visit to see me and bring us something…one.  And, its the friend I have known for only a year.  But the guys I have known for a long time…pretty much nothing.  One guy I have known for over a decade didn’t even have the decency to sign the two cards his wife has sent…I mean, what the fuck???

Oh sure, there have been the odd invite for lunch but none of the guys have asked anything about me or Abby…

Am I hurt?  You betcha!  Of course, I need to temper my anger since, as M pointed out, I would have likely done the same thing…nothing.  But does that make it acceptable?  Of course not!  I know most guys don’t have deep relationships with their buddies, but when one of those buddies is in need of support, we need to help out!  Come on guys!  We need to start helping out each other and providing the support that we need instead of just ignoring those things that absolutely terrify us men…feelings!  I hope that this experience has changed me so that if any of my friends suffer a great loss, they can count on me as a source of support and an ear to listen.

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10 responses to “FYI – Guys grieve too!

  • ScrappyJen

    It’s nice to hear from you. Even I (a gal) would most likely not think to ask a male co-worker how he was feeling – IF HE EVEN SHARED IN THE FIRST PLACE. I would ask about his wife though. Your sharing today will change that. I think of you both all the time. I hope there are cheerful times around the corner for you both.
    Love & blessings,
    Jen

  • Heather

    Hey C. I’m so glad you wrote this post. It is important and I hope a lot of people read it and take it to point. I’ve been thinking a lot about how you’re doing, but don’t know that I’ve ever actaully said anything to you – or if I did when I came to see you guys… I’m sorry if I didn’t.

    You are an amazing husband, father and friend. Please know we’ve been thinking of you as well.
    xo

  • SB

    Thanks for sharing C. It’s good to hear from you, I have been thinking of you and M. often and wondering how both of you are doing, but you’re right you males often get ignored in the grief process and that isn’t right. We need to educate our boys how to deal with feelings and definitely how to support each other. Peace to you.

  • Belle

    I appreciate this post so much. I consider myself a compassionate person, but even I would likely not think to ask the guy how he was doing. I am going to change that starting with the package I plan to send to a friend who has been dealing with repeated loss. I will include her husband in it, too. Thank you.

  • Courtney

    Thank you for posting this – WOW! My husband would agree with what you’ve said here. We’ve never lost a baby so late in a pregnancy, but struggled for years with IF and no one ever asked him how he was doing with the exception of one co-worker. When we had an early miscarriage, it was all about how I was doing – and what they could do to help him deal with me and my emotions. Even I didn’t ask how he was doing because he acted like all was fine and just focused on next steps. That perplexed me – how could he not be sad like me? He now tells me that he had a terrible time with our IF struggle and is dreading going through it again this summer. He has said that he viewed his role as keeping things moving, and keeping me sane, and that he never took time out to focus on his feelings since he knew I was so sad. I guess everyone else just watched that and figured that he was OK.

  • smonster

    Thanks for stepping up and addressing this, C.

    It shouldn’t be your job to ask for support from your guy friends, but (like you said) I don’t think many men know HOW to support each other. Sadly, it’s not something they’ve been able to learn by example a lot of the time, and until guys like you are brave enough to talk about it, I think there’ll continue to be men dealing with grief, and other difficult emotions, alone.

    -Shara

  • psychsarah

    Great post C. Thanks for illuminating the male perspective. I wonder if the husbands/fathers might face a particular lack of support when facing pregnancy loss, because often, their wife is their primary emotional support (as you noted, guy friendships are sometimes not “deep”) so when their wife is struggling, and they are looking after her, who can they turn to? Something to keep in mind for sure. Take care. I’ve been thinking of you both often. I hope you find your own way through your own unique grief.

  • angie

    Thanks for your post! I wish DH would grief out loud more. I know he is in so much pain. He had to watch me go through this. It was his daughter who died, and almost his wife. I look forward to getting to know you and your wife more. I hope you and him can help each other. Hugs!

  • typegeek

    I agree that there is definitely a problem that guys neither share their feelings enough, nor have their feelings, or even ability to have feelings, validated or noticed.

    What you’ve gone through is an intensely painful and personal event. I’m sure most of your friends are thinking about you, and hoping you are ok, but are at a loss for what to say. They think: “How can we possibly help?”, “Do you even want to hear from people who have what you don’t have?”.

    I feel friends should reach out to each other, but often what people think about nowadays is “It’s none of our business, we should stay out of it.”, and yes that is kind of sad.

    Or it could just be as simple as your friends really are there for you when you and M are ready to reach out, but don’t want to intrude into your lives until you are ready.

    I’m afraid of saying something wrong, but I do want to be there for you.

    And hey BE ANGRY! Notice it, direct it in the right direction and let it out somehow safe. There is a time for it, and trust that you won’t be angry for ever.

    PS: This comment probably contains something stupid but it wasn’t stupid when I thought it.

  • marwil

    Hi C, this is so important, thanks for writing it. I asked my husband about this and yes, most people at his work-place had asked, and then asked how I was coping with our loss. It’s something I don’t understand. But it’s really good you put it out here, so hopefully more people can learn from it.

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