“Never Show Weakness”
Men are often times programmed from a young age to believe that “big boys don’t cry” and that they should never show weakness. Because of this, it is sometimes difficult for men to “release” the emotions that build up. I often hear from dads that tell me that they can’t seem to cry. They feel the emotions welling up inside, but the release just doesn’t happen very easily. I try to provide ideas/tools that I have learned from dealing with my own emotions during the aftermath of losing my two children.
I am a firm believer that one needs to learn to be transparent and allow themselves to become vulnerable. This isn’t easy for men, but allowing yourself to seek professional counseling and participating in support groups can help with this process.
Another important part to the healing process is staying active, especially for men. Not as a tool to avoid dealing with your emotions, but quite the opposite. Using activities such as exercise allows you to not only burn anxiety, it can allow you to be in your own thoughts; processing what has happened to you.
I spent a lot of time riding my bike, jogging and taking on none time critical home projects. Early on, I would find myself breaking down and crying during these activities. Even years after their death, I still use these tools and from time to time I will push myself enough physically that I will feel the emotions build up and ultimately trigger a release.
I wish I could give each grieving parent the secret to surviving the death of their child, but I can’t. What I can do is share the things that helped me make it through the dark days and ultimately back to the path of healing.
Author of Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back