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.


Ken Doka

Dr. Kenneth J. Doka is a Professor of Gerontology at the Graduate School of The College of New Rochelle and Senior Consultant to the Hospice Foundation of America. A prolific author, Dr. Doka’s books include Counseling Individuals with Life-Threatening Illness; Living with Grief: Children and Adolescents, Living with Grief: Before and After Death, Death, Dying and Bereavement: Major Themes in Health and Social Welfare (a 4 Volume edited work), Pain Management at the End-of-Life: Bridging the Gap between Knowledge and Practice, Living with Grief: Ethical Dilemmas at the End of Life, Living with Grief: Alzheimer’s Disease, Living with Grief: Coping with Public Tragedy; Men Don’t Cry, Women Do: Transcending Gender Stereotypes of Grief; Living with Grief: Loss in Later Life, Disenfranchised Grief: Recognizing Hidden Sorrow: Living with Life Threatening Illness; Children Mourning, Mourning Children; Death and Spirituality; Living with Grief: After Sudden Loss; Living with Grief: When Illness is Prolonged; Living with Grief: Who We Are, How We Grieve; Living with Grief: At Work, School and Worship; Living with Grief: Children, Adolescents and Loss; Caregiving and Loss: Family Needs, Professional Responses; AIDS, Fear and Society; Aging and Developmental Disabilities; and Disenfranchised Grief: New Directions, Challenges, and Strategies for Practice. In addition to these books, he has published over 100 articles and book chapters. Dr. Doka is editor of both Omega: The Journal of Death and Dying and Journeys: A Newsletter for the Bereaved. Dr. Doka was elected President of the Association for Death Education and Counseling in 1993. In 1995, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the International Work Group on Dying, Death and Bereavement and served as chair from 1997-1999. The Association for Death Education and Counseling presented him with an Award for Outstanding Contributions in the Field of Death Education in 1998. In 2000 Scott and White presented him an award for Outstanding Contributions to Thanatology and Hospice. His Alma Mater Concordia College presented him with their first Distinguished Alumnus Award. In 2006, Dr. Doka was grandfathered in as a Mental Health Counselor under NY State’s first licensure of counselors. Dr. Doka has keynoted conferences throughout North America as well as Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. He participates in the annual Hospice Foundation of America Teleconference and has appeared on CNN and Nightline. In addition he has served as a consultant to medical, nursing, funeral service and hospice organizations as well as businesses and educational and social service agencies. Dr. Doka is an ordained Lutheran minister. Dr. Doka appeared on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart“ to discuss “Dealing with Grief and Loss.” To hear Dr. Doka being interviewed on this show by Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link:

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