On author Neil Chethik's website, he features a number of free resources that I think are valuable both for men in grief and for people who care for them. For example, in his brief essay "Why Men Don't Go to Counseling," Chethik shares insights he gained from the research for his book FatherLoss, for which he interviewed 70 men whose fathers had died, and he explains why grief counseling sometimes does not address men's needs:
Because widows are more numerous than widowers -- and more willing to participate in grief studies -- most of the research thus far has focused on how women handle loss. Thus, affective expressiveness -- especially crying and talking about the loss with others -- has come to be seen as the accepted norm for grieving. Those who cope with loss in other ways are often considered to be doing it "wrong."He goes on to outline some of the highlights of research that has been done on men's grief, including observations from a research study on bereaved sons that showed:
Men tended to control their emotions after the death, emphasizing action and thinking instead. Some of the sons turned their attention outward, focusing on funeral planning, taking care of the estate, supporting relatives, and similar activities. Others turned inward, mentally reviewing their relationships with their dads, or rationalizing that the father's death was best for all concerned.
After alluding to Ken Doka and Terry Martin's groundbreaking work on different styles of grieving, Chethik offers his own framework for male bereavement, identifying four types of male grievers based on his interviews:
• Dashers: Often speed through their mourning. Tend not to cry, but rather to create an intellectual framework to help them manage the loss. Think their way through their grief. Tend to be older men, experienced with loss. More likely to have taken action to prepare for father's death.
• Delayers: Did not have a powerful reaction in the short-term but months, years, or even decades later experienced mourning symptoms. Heavy use of alcohol and other drugs is a common trait. Men who lacked experience with major losses seem more likely to bury pain in the short-term.
• Displayers: Primary trait is powerful, acute emotional reaction to the death. Men tend to feel flooded or overwhelmed. Tend to experience grief as happening to them; they are not in control. Months after the loss are emotionally erratic and draining.
• Doers: Deeply touched by the death, but not overwhelmed by emotions. Focus on action -- doing things that consciously connect them with the memory of their father. Often spend time with photos, tools, books, medals, and other mementoes. Concept of honoring is often an inspiration for their actions.
Chethik closes his essay with cogent recommendations for grief counselors and educators (in grief groups, innovate; in individual therapy, be open to non-traditional styles of grieving; in all therapy, be a witness)."Why Men Don't Go to Counseling" is only one of almost 30 essays Chethik shares on his website, on the topics of men and grief and men and relationships. His webpage on FatherLoss also offers a number of free items, including downloads of the Introduction and the chapter on men's styles of mourning; information on a survey completed for the book, which was answered by 370 men; and a reader's guide with discussion questions.