James Richardson: Men and Grief

James Richardson with the Emerging Beyond non-profit organization spoke with Dr. Heidi Horsley during the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference. Dr. Horsley points out that Richardson has a lot of diversity in his own life, having served 29 years in the military and as an African American-Portuguese male. It’s important to note that the way someone in his position is “supposed” to deal with grief can vary greatly. “It really depends on how you came up,” Richardson explains, which has impacted how he’s dealt with three losses in his own life.

“For me, it (dealing with grief) really dealt with being in the military.” Being in a leadership position in the military, Richardson says there are “some emotions you just can’t let out.” He felt that since he was in a position of power, it was his job to keep a stiff upper lip, which ultimately kept him from grieving in ways that felt natural. “I think I had to be the strong one, so I kept everything on the inside,” he says. As a military male, Dr. Horsley asks if it was normal to hide your feelings, and Richardson agrees.

Men Finding Hope

When men are getting messages that they shouldn’t grieve publicly, it can be a tough stigma to get out of. However, Richardson does have advice for men, no matter what position they may be in, when facing a loss. “You gotta reach out and get help from somebody else.” This mimics what many have said about finding the right support network. It might not be in your immediate “military family,” but there certainly are resources available.

Talking to others who have been through similar situations puts you “on the same sheet of music.” Compassion and empathy are key when dealing with a loss, and unfortunately it’s often up to the person grieving to find these resources themselves—but they’re available for those who do the research.

Avatar

Heidi Horsley

More Articles Written by Heidi

Dr. Heidi Horsley is an international grief expert, licensed psychologist, and social worker. She is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Open to Hope Foundation, one of the largest internet grief resources, with over 2 million yearly visitors. She hosts the award-winning Open to Hope cable television show and podcast. Dr. Heidi is an adjunct professor at Columbia University. She serves on the ​National Board of Directors for The Compassionate Friends, the largest peer to peer support organization in the world. She also serves on the National Advisory Board for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). TAPS has served over 50,000 military families who have suffered a loss. In addition, she serves on the National Advisory Board for the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation, and the Children's Brain Tumor Foundation. Dr. Heidi is on the VIP section of Marquis Who's Who in America, Madison Who's Who, and Who's Who of American Women. Dr. Heidi has co-authored eight books, including; Spouse Loss; Fresh Grief; Inspirational Stories for Handling the Holidays After Loss; Inspirational Stories of Healing After Loss; Real Men Do Cry; A Quarterbacks Inspiring Story of Tackling Depression & Surviving Suicide; Teen Grief Relief: Parenting with Understanding Support and Guidance; and Signs and Hope From Heaven. She has appeared on the ABC television show 20/20, has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, and has been a guest on hundreds of radio shows as well as quoted in dozens of media publications, including the Metro World News, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Newsday, Money Magazine, and New York Daily News. Dr. Heidi is also the author of numerous articles and academic book chapters. Dr. Heidi gives keynotes, presentations, and workshops throughout the country, and teaches continuing education workshops for health care professionals on support following trauma and tragedy. For 10 yrs., Dr. Heidi worked as a co-investigator for the FDNY-Columbia University Family Guidance Program; a study which looked at traumatic loss in families of firefighters killed in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. Through this 9/11 study, Dr. Heidi provided ongoing intervention and follow-up to firefighter widows and their children, and facilitated groups for bereaved siblings. In addition, Dr. Heidi supervised the school social work staff at Harlem Democracy Charter Schools in NYC for four years. Dr. Heidi's early career included work in a variety of clinical settings, including; Manhattan Psychiatric Center, California Pacific Medical Center Psychiatry Dept., University of San Francisco Mental Health Clinic, St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Psychiatry Dept., and Hope Haven Residential Treatment Center in New Orleans. Her doctoral dissertation was on the sudden death of a sibling. Her academic credentials include a doctorate in Psychology (PsyD) from the University of San Francisco; a Masters degree in social work (LMSW) from Columbia University, and a Masters degree in mental health counseling (MS) from Loyola University, in New Orleans. Dr. Heidi splits her time between NYC and Tucson AZ.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *