Men in Mourning: What every woman should know

Even in the face of a tragic loss, men in mourning often feel they need to be self-contained, stoic and express little or no outward emotion. Research suggests men rarely cry in front of others because they fear judgement or ridicule. So, for many men in mourning, this means crying alone. Only when men feel ‘safe’ will they shed tears.

Key points

  • Men rarely cry in front of others unless they feel ‘safe’ from judgement
  • Those who hide their tears  express loss in other ways
  • Long-term problems can arise if grief is not dealt with
  • To help men in mourning, women need to use different strategies
  • Sympathy gifts can be used as grief devices for men

Grief symptoms – men in mourning

Most think of grief as sadness and crying. But there are many more symptoms.  For men who hide their tears, other grief symptoms include:

  • Withdrawal — Many men withdraw physically and emotionally from family and friends.
  • Irritability — When processing a loss, small annoyances irritate men.
  • Anger — Frequent overreacting and exploding at minor issues
  • Substance abuse — Some men in mourning mask their emotional pain with alcohol, medications or recreational drugs.

It is common for men in mourning who perceive themselves as leaders not to show any emotional vulnerability in front of family, spouses and colleagues. So,  if you notice any of these signs in a male loved one, suggest he talk to a close male friend, grief counsellor or visit his doctor. Try not to feel hurt if you are not the one he opens up to about his grief.

How to help men grieve 

While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, men process grief differently. Women like to talk and cry out their feelings. Men, on the other hand, prefer to stay active. So asking your male loved one to ‘talk out’ his feelings could be met with resistance. Instead, try the following.

  • Encourage him to stay active and maintain his physical routines.
  • Offer alone time so he can think through his loss.
  • Provide privacy so he can face his emotions without fear of judgment.
  • Ask “What do you need?” rather than “What are you thinking?”
  • Check-in often and ask “How are you going?”
  • Listen without interruption.

Grief recovery sympathy gifts

In the face of grief, men prefer to stay active. Keeping busy is acceptable so long as men aren’t avoiding their feelings. That’s why grief sympathy gifts make smart grief recovery tools. Great comfort comes from keeping a loved one’s memory close during the intial stages of processing grief. Popular choices for urn jewlery includes urn bracelets, necklaces and urn keychain charms. All hold a token amount of a loved one’s cremains.

Ashes bracelets for men

The modern mourning ritual of wearing ashes jewelry brings comfort to many. Like an emotional touchstone, the physical presence of the bracelet is a constant reminder their departed loved one is close in spirit.

Ashes necklaces for men

Another thoughtful sympathy gift is an ashes pendant. Easily tucked under their shirt, the urn necklace becomes a grief barometer. On show it means ‘I want to talk’.  When hidden, it signals ‘give me space’.

Ashes keychains for men

Keychain urns make a wise ashes jewelry gift for men who don’t like attracting attention to their grief.

Grief warning signs in men

Giving an ashes jewellery gift is a lovely way to check-in on a man’s grieving process. Asking if the urn jewellery is comfortable is a great way to ask ‘are you okay?’ without saying it. Plus, the question opens the door to a conversation about feelings where you can gauge the depth of bereavement. For men, denying grief may result in serious long-term problems. So, among the signs to watch for are:

  • Chronic depression, withdrawal and low self-esteem
  • Deterioration in relationships with others
  • Physical complaints such as headaches, fatigue and backaches
  • Anxiety, agitation and restlessness
  • Substance abuse or dependence (drugs or alcohol)
  • Indifference towards others, insensitivity and workaholism.
If you or anyone you know needs help try:
  • Lifeline Crisis Chat (Online live messaging)
  • TREVOR Crisis Hotline: 1-866-488-7386
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Crisis Text Line: Text “DESERVE” TO 741-741
Helpful and trustworthy reading 

If you notice one or more of these symptoms, suggest your bereaved loved one seeks help from his doctor, a bereavement support group, or grief counsellor.

Good news for grief

The good news is research shows most people navigate their way through grief without medical intervention. Similarly, healthy grief recovery relies on the unconditional support of family, friends and work colleagues.

(Visit  Eulogy Help for super useful tips when writing a memorial speach to honor a loved one’s memory.)