Grief Styles: Women Verbalize, Men Internalize

Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat.  Then fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher’s mound.  Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together.  Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again.  ~ Baseball player Jimmy Piersall, on how to diaper a baby, 1968

Fathers don’t always get the credit they are due. Is it because they are wired differently than women? When our son would get fussy in a restaurant, my husband would instantly get uneasy and look for the closest exit door, soup spoon in one hand, car keys and baby in the other.

Of course, women don’t want to disturb others, but they know that sometimes that’s what babies do. So they will reach for a bottle or walk them out until they quiet. Get a group of women together at a house and that’s another story. They can eat a meal, drink a glass of wine, and discuss breast implants while their children are dancing on tables.

Men have to fix the problem and find a solution immediately. If only men could relate to these situations as they did during a football game, totally focused, as if you were not in the room yelling, “The hot wings are on fire in the oven! Call 911!”

Back when TVs were in caves and men were the head of the family, they had a lot on their shoulders keeping the family safe. According to ancient family systems, they were the protector. Things have changed, but in some ways, I think the father still feels an extra burden when a child dies as he is supposed to be the man of the house, the brave one always one step ahead of anything happening to his family.

If a tragedy takes place, it takes time to understand that there was nothing that could be done to change the circumstances of what happened. And if you believe as I do, that on a spiritual level we choose when we are leaving this earth, then you must also believe that the entire nucleus of the family and friends were involved with the child’s life. It was a spiritual plan.

From my experience, women verbalize and men internalize before they can speak of their loss. After our son died, my husband would sit for hours on our deck over the river and read. By reading, he said he didn’t have to think. He questioned why we moved to a remote area. Why the doctors didn’t see this allergy problem coming.

We both had many “what ifs”. All those “what ifs” are natural, but as hard as it is, we can’t dwell on them, they were a part of the spiritual life plan of our son.  If we think with a more astute mind we will realize that at a certain time, our children chose an avenue to leave this earth based on opportunity and a sacred inner knowledge.

Vicky Bates 2011





Vicky Bates

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After 18 years of marriage and career, we decided to adopt two babies. My oldest had many health issues which after 10 years led to a fatal anaphylactic shock. I believe that my spiritual beliefs helped me understand that the tragedies we face challenge us to confront our pain and slowly work through it. That is what I did through helping with hospice and watching the process of transition for the dying and seeing that even in the hardest times the gentle kindness of humor is a necessary tool.


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  • I couldn’t agree more with you there Vicky! Women do tend to be chatty at times and that’s where men come in, to lend their ears and listen. That what makes a relationship great and continually it’ll continue to be that way.

  • Well that’s just the norm as women typically are always the talker and men would be the listener. I’ve never seen a couple where the man talks endlessly while the poor woman just listens there mindlessly. Humans I guess are wired that way?