Male Grief

The treatment of grief is an area I specialise in and I have written before about this almost inevitable experience. It’s a complex response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone you loved. And what I wanted to focus on this time is specifically male grief. It’s that men experience grief differently to women is more that often they have fewer resources to cope. Set aside the old fashioned, stiff upper lip, men don’t cry beliefs, men generally have fewer friends and so less of a support network than women.

Typically, women will choose to talk through their feelings of grief with friends and family while men tend to cope with it though thoughts and actions. Philip Karahassan (founder of Therapy in London, Psychotherapist and Psychologist) believes that society tends to look more virtuously on women’s apparent innate ability to recognise and express their emotions. And this actually makes it more difficult for men to open up about their grief.

He said, “That lack of expression can make us look for other ways to deal with grief such as destructive behaviours, just in order to defer feeling any grief. This can range from rage and anger to substance abuse. It can feel like it is working in the short term but leads to destructive habits and a build-up of hard to deal with emotions.”

Sir Michael Palin (Comedian and Monty Python) recently opened up about his grief at the loss of his wife (Helen Gibbins), who died after 57 years of marriage in 2023. He said he felt, “lopsided” and without a “rudder” afterwards. They had met when he was still in his teens and described her as “the bedrock of my life”.

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Speaking on Rob Brydon’s Wondery podcast Sir Michael said: “We were together for a very long time. We were married for 57 years and I met her before that so more than two thirds of my life was spent with her. And so you form a kind of unit. You don’t realise that until someone’s gone and then it’s slightly lopsided, like something tips over, and your rudder goes. You end up thinking it was just me but I need my partner there to sort of keep me on the straight and narrow. It’s not the great things that you’ve said, very often a lot of things that are unsaid because if you know somebody really, really well, you don’t have to sort of analyse everything or say everything, you just know the way they will feel. So I had to get adjusted to that.”

When someone has experienced a loss it can be hard to know what to do or say. I know when I have lost close relatives, some of friends withdrew not knowing what to do or say and not wanting to make things worse. But in fact, a helping hand, a laugh and a joke or a comforting presence can go a long way. So, offer that helping hand, lend an ear or a thoughtful message and be there for them. Help, how and when you can, and if they are struggling then encourage them to seek expert help.

Hypnotherapy has several techniques that can help those struggling with a recent loss. If you or someone you know could benefit from hypnotherapy then contact me.

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