As a bi-coastal radio show, Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley interview experts around the world. This episode features Dr. Bob Baugher, a psychology instructor at Highline Community College in Des Moines, Washington. He teaches courses in death education and psychology. He’s also a popular national speaker, and has written several articles and seven books on grief and bereavement. His most current project is a video, “Men & Their Grief; 20 Years Later,” where he follows men on their grief journey over a two decade period.
People are more alike than they are different, says Dr. Baugher, and that’s true when talking about men vs. women in grief. There are many factors at play, including how society has “taught” men and women to grieve. However, everyone feels fear, anger, loss, and sadness in grief. This project shows what a grief journey looks like for a select group of men. It’s not indicative of what’s “normal” and Dr. Baugher says there are many instances that complement how women grieve.
What We Expect of Men
People expect men to be both macho and manly, but also sensitive and caring depending on the situation. That’s a tall order to fill. For many men in grief, they feel pressure (whether real or not) to be the strong one—especially in a situation like the death of a child, where they feel they need to care for their partner/mother of the child, too. Getting support is critical.
For some men, it’s off-putting and intimidating to seek out support. “Don’t ask a man necessarily, ‘how do you feel about that?’” he says. Instead, ask, “What’s going on in your body?” or another specific question that can be answered. “What’s going on in your heart?” is another great lead.