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Expressing Grief - What to Know and How to Help Men, Women, and Children Cope With Grief
By Christopher P Hill

Grief is something that is usually associated with the loss of a loved one, and is widely recognized to be a healthy, normal and necessary reaction to such a difficult loss. Because everyone is built with a unique set of characteristics and emotions, and each person has a special relationship with any loved one who has passed, each person deals with grief in a different way.

This is particularly true when you break down the various ways grief is expressed among men, women and children. Even though a man, a woman, or a child cannot be expected to express grief in similar ways, they are all experiencing the similar feelings, and they are all attempting to find the best possible way to heal from within.

Men and Grief

Generally speaking, most men are not comfortable expressing their grief outwardly, publicly, or even verbally. Although the loss for a man is just as devastating as it is for a woman or a child, most men are very reluctant to express their feelings. The initial reaction for a man is to deal with grief physically or mentally rather than emotionally, or to stay in control versus display any strong outward expressions of emotion. Therefore, men tend to resort to focusing on tasks, goals, or accomplishments. This can include focusing on things like performing physical tasks or chores, writing a book or eulogy, creating a special memorial, or even attempting to shift the focus towards work or sports. However, whether it happens quickly or over a longer period of time, men are forced to face the reality and enormity of the situation, admit and accept the emotional effects of such a difficult loss, and express their emotions in order to truly heal.

Women and Grief

For the most part, women tend to be more emotional than men, which would logically explain why they are much more capable and willing to express their grief and emotions. For example, women are much more likely to show how they feel outwardly and publicly through expressions such as talking, crying, or displaying extended periods of severe sadness and loss. The main benefit here is that, because they are more willing to express and confront these emotions, this can make it much easier to find healing through joining associations, groups, and grief counseling. By sharing their feelings and emotions, as well as being surrounded by others who may have the same (or similar) experience of losing a dear loved one, this can often encourage a stronger passage through the healing process.

Children and Grief

Depending on their age, children can express grief in a wide variety of ways. Younger children can often mirror the emotions of the older people around them, and therefore tend to express similar emotions as their older siblings, parents or grandparents. A younger child can also choose to go right back into playtime, choosing to hide any grief through living in a "fantasy world". As children get older, they can become much more independent and choose to grieve through things such as games, art, music, or even sporting activities. This allows them to remain in close to their comfort zone, which is usually surrounded by positive influences such as music, scenery, competition, and fun. Most grief experts suggest that most children should be encouraged to experience their grief in whatever way makes them feel the most comfortable, since over time each child will eventually face the reality of the situation, the grieving process, and ultimately the healing.

How to Help Someone Dealing With Grief

The message here is that there is no right or wrong way to express grief, and that every man, woman and child tends to grieve differently. The most important things to focus on when someone you care about is grieving are making sure this person has as much love, support, and encouragement as possible. Also make sure you let them grieve and express their emotions at their pace, when the time is right for them. In time, expressing grief is a necessary part of healing, so just make sure you are there for them when this time is right.


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