First of all, I would like to define the term grief: The normal process of reacting to a loss. The loss may be physical (such as a death), social (such as divorce), or occupational (such as a job). Emotional reactions of grief can include anger, guilt, anxiety, sadness, and despair. Physical reactions of grief can include sleeping problems, changes in appetite, physical problems, or illness (medicinenet.com).There are 5 main identities that people may identify with when they are mourning:
1. Nomads: Nomads are characterized by a range of emotions, including denial, anger, and confusion about what to do with their lives. Nomads have not yet resolved their grief. They don’t often understand how their loss has affected their lives.
2. Memorialists: Memorialists are committed to preserving the memory of their loved ones by creating concrete memorials and rituals to honor them. These range from buildings, art, gardens, poems, and songs to foundations in their loved one’s name.
3. Normalizers: Normalizers place primary emphasis on their family, friends, and community. They are committed to creating or re-creating them because of their sense of having lost family, friends, and community, as well as the lifestyle that accompanies them, when their loved one died.
4. Activists: Activists create meaning from their loss by contributing to the quality of life of others through activities or careers that give them a purpose in life. Their main focus is on education and on helping other people who are dealing with the issues that caused their loved one’s death, such as violence, a terminal or sudden illness, or social problems.
5. Seekers: Seekers look outward to the universe and ask existential questions about their relationship to others and the world. They tend to adopt religious, philosophical, or spiritual beliefs to create meaning in their lives and provide a sense of belonging that they either never had or lost when their loved one died.
Do you recognize any of these identities? It is perfectly normal to grieve after you have lost something. I know that when I lost my grandmother whom I was close with, I had a hard time for a while. Someone/something that has been part of your life, it can be hard to say goodbye.
What I find interesting is that there are certain expectations placed on both men and women on how they should grieve. One of the major reasons for the difference in how men and women grieve has to do with cultural expectations – the way our society defines “masculine” and “feminine.” Most men feel they have to be:
Taking charge, problem solving
Being “strong”, supporting others
Less expression of feelings, more concerned with thinking than feeling
Striving, moving, activity
Seeing death/grief as a challenge to be overcome, a test of masculinity
Women are defined as:
1. Expect lots of tears; they are natural and normal and do not need you to stop them.
Respect the need to share and communicate about the loss as a source of comfort. This is not a search for answers but a means to make sense of the new world faced.
2. Accept and respect the need for social support. This is not a betrayal of intimate relationships or a rejection of support already offered, it is an ongoing need for social connections.
3. Accept and respect the focus and investment in the past, this is a way to hold onto connections of the loss.
This is certainly an issue where we see gendered stereotypes like how a man may feel like he can’t cry and a woman may feel like she has too. This issue is related to governing by society. Society closely monitors both genders ensuring they are acting according to their sex. If they don’t act the way their sex is supposed to then they are a rebel who society does not know how to accept.
Check this link out for some myths about grieving: