The following was sent to me by Deb Kosmer. Deb is a published writer and social worker and works as a Hospice Bereavement Coordinator. She is also a bereaved parent, sibling, and daughter. She started a men’s only grief support group 5 years ago and wrote the following based on her observations after the first night. She was kind enough to share it with all of us.
Last night I sat in a room filled with grieving men.
Some missing a parent or sibling but most a spouse
For once not a minority sandwiched within a
group of women, but a part of a group connected to
one another by gender, death, and heartache.
This morning as I looked into the eyes of my
14 month old grandson I couldn`t help but think
of those men who once were little boys and who
still carry many of their little boy hurts in their
grown-up hearts and adult sized bodies.
The pain I heard and felt in that room last night
was real, as was their voiced confusion,
questions, and doubts about themselves
and their future. The tears they let fall
did not look any different than mine.
They spoke of losses both past and present
Many of which they`d never grieved
Of being told they must be strong
That big boys don`t cry, tears were for
the weak, the sissies, and the girls.
This morning I saw my smiling grandson
run and fall and tears start to come
I gathered him in my arms and gave
him a hug as I remembered last night’s
men who as boys were told not to cry.
And my heart ached for them then and now
Deb Kosmer (2006)
I have spoken to many grieving dads over the last year from the many seminars and workshops I have conducted as well as the many men that have either emailed or called me. I can assure you that the pain I have heard from these courageous men, that decided to make a conscious effort to tell their story, is very real.
I do believe as bereaved dads, we are all connected by the death of our children and by how society thinks we should respond after our child has died. We are all a part of a brotherhood of men that are trying to put the pieces of our lives back together after having them shattered. My mission as part of this Grieving Dads Project is to not only help other grieving dads, but to also educate society about how men are also impacted by the death of their child and that although we may not always show it externally, we are most certainly feeling internally.
It is certainly okay to cry. I tell many men in my workshops that “there is a time and place to be strong, dealing with the death of a child isn’t one of thsoe times, you have to truely feel the depths of the pain if you have any hope of recoverying”. Let it take you were it takes you, we are all here to help any way we can.
I find it refreshing that other men, such as yourself, have been willing to cry with me, hug me, and let me share my grieving with them. If I broke a bone, it would be ok to shed a tear, or if I burned myself badly, society might allow me a few more tears, but when my heart is ripped out and stomped to pieces, I am supposed to “suck it up” and “be a man about it”. That is a bunch of crap! The hole in my heart will never be filled, and the pain will never completely go away, an thanks to a few strong men in my life, it is ok to cry.