It’s no surprise that men and women grieve differently. Dr. Gloria Horsley interviews Dr. Ken Doka, president and consultant to the American Hospice Foundation, at an Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) conference. It’s no longer solely an issue of gender—and “some” men grieve differently than women. There are, instead, many ways of grieving. Intuitive types experience grief in waves of feeling. Both men and women can experience this. Grief can come out in anger and crying, which is an externalization.
Talking about grief and dealing with emotions while finding ways to process feelings can be a great help for intuitive people. There’s also instrumental grieving, which is common with men (though women can also experience it). With these types, people are more likely to talk calmly. They might describe physical symptoms, like for example that it felt as if someone punched them in the stomach. These types might exercise more, set up a commemorative scholarship, or otherwise “do” to address grief.
The Best Way
There is no best way to grieve, and it’s a person to person consideration. Rather than men and women, it’s important to look at styles with strengths vs. limitations. These are differences, not deficiencies. They are just ways that others have to understand—everyone approaches grief differently. It never means that someone loves someone more or less. It’s too easy to get into the blame game if different styles clash.
Respecting that styles are different is key. Looking at styles, it’s important to look at the issue of attraction. “What did you like about the person?” is vital. “What’s bothering you now?” can be a good follow-up question. Recognizing that there are different styles can help grievers complement and partner with one another.