Boys and girls grieve differently, as do men and women. Dr. Heidi Horsley talks with Sara Daren about the unique way boys grieve. Daren is from Experience Camps, and as the founder and executive director she runs one-week camps for boys in Maine and New York. In 2015 a camp for girls began, but she has focused on boys for the past seven years. Boys and girls emote differently. At camp, the boys are often stiff and uncomfortable when they first arrive. Boys like to play before talking and need to get active.

Diving right into camp with tug of war, and getting the boys sweating and happy is the way to get them to connect. This opens them up and gets them comfortable. Boys have a harder time communicating the language of grief. Sports and getting them active gives them the words and coping skills they don’t have naturally.

Grieving Boys

If you have a grieving boy, especially if you’re a woman, it starts with meeting the boys where they’re at. Not all kids want to talk about their grief. Let them know they don’t have to talk, but it’s always an option. They might not be ready when you’re ready to talk. IF you let them know that you’re there for them, they will come around when they’re ready. Don’t pressure them and force them to talk, but rather be present.

Boys may never want to talk to their parents. They may choose to talk to someone else eventually. This can be more comfortable for them, as it will feel like they’re not adding a burden to their parent. Just because they don’t talk to a parent doesn’t mean they can’t talk about grief at all. They may be talking to others, and always remember that their grief is unique.

 

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Heidi Horsley

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.

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