Mourning Men – Doing It Your Way

The grief of losing a child or young person suddenly and unexpectedly is something that most of the population will never have to experience. However, when you find yourself in this devastating situation, it is important to note that grief is a complex and deeply personal emotion that can manifest in a multitude of ways.

Yet, when it comes to men and grief, societal expectations dictate how this grief should be processed and expressed. Traditionally, men have been socialised to be strong, stoic, and unemotional, which can lead to a restrictive and limiting approach to mourning. At 2wish we know that it is time to challenge these outdated norms and allow men to grieve in a way that feels authentic and natural to them.

The Expectation of Men’s Grief

The expectation that men should be tough and unemotional in the face of loss can be damaging and isolating. It can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, and anxiety when they do exhibit emotions, which can further exacerbate their grief and result in greater levels of trauma that can feel impossible to face.

This cultural conditioning can make men feel like they are not allowed to grieve, or that their emotions are somehow less valid than those of women. In addition to the expectation of how men grieve, there is also an expectation that they will be the person who holds the rest of the family together, meaning that they must keep their own feelings at bay to be what everyone else needs. For many men, this expectation leads others to see them as being uncaring or unbothered about their child’s death – a fact that is far from the reality they are facing.

The Reality of Men’s Grief

The reality is that men do grieve, and they do it in a wide range of ways. Some may cry, some may get angry, some may become withdrawn, and others may throw themselves into work or hobbies to cope. There is no one “right” way to grieve, and men should be free to express their emotions in a way that feels authentic to them and ensures that others offer them the space and support they need to take.

One of the most significant barriers to men’s grief is the stigma surrounding emotional expression. From a young age, boys are often taught to suppress their emotions, with phrases like “boys don’t cry” and “toughen up” perpetuating the idea that emotional vulnerability is a weakness. This can lead to a sense of shame and embarrassment around emotional expression, making it difficult for men to open up and share their feelings.

The pressure to be strong can lead to a sense of isolation and disconnection from others. When men are expected to keep their emotions bottled up, they may struggle to form meaningful connections with others, including their loved ones, friends, and even their own children. This can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and disconnection, making the grieving process even more challenging, and can cause damage to the relationships that mean the most to them.

The Impact of Authenticity

In contrast, allowing men to grieve in a way that feels authentic to them can have a profoundly positive impact. When men are given the freedom to express their emotions, they are more likely to form deeper connections with their loved ones and feel that they have been authentic in handling their loss.

Some of the most authentic ways for men to grieve include:

  • Taking Time to Reflect – taking enough time to think about the child or young person that has died, recognising the impact it has had on every aspect of their life.
  • Accessing Support – from using peer support groups such as the 2wish men’s Facebook group to other support networks, reaching out to others who have been bereaved can make it easier to share feelings.
  • Maintaining a Healthy Diet – food can become a huge issue for men facing bereavement and it is important to work hard to keep diet and eating as healthy as possible. The better someone eats, the more able they are to physically cope with the bereavement they have suffered.
  • Finding Healthy Outlets – grief can create overwhelming feelings of anger and frustration, so it is important to find healthy outlets. Physical movement such as walking and running can be useful, but anything that provides a focused outlet can be useful.
  • Creating a Memorial – remembering the child or young person who has died is an important part of the grieving process and one that offers a way to keep their name being shared. Memorials can be as small or big as wanted and offer a clear route to remembering with love.
  • Talking to Others – it may feel alien, but one of the best ways to grieve is to share your thoughts and feelings with others. This includes friends, family, and colleagues but can also include counsellors and other therapists too. There is no right or wrong way to share, making it important to give men the space to speak to whomever feels right to them.

2wish’s Promise to Bereaved Men

The team at 2wish is focused on providing the absolute best support to anyone who has been affected by the sudden and unexpected death of a child or young person under the age of 25. Whether you are finding it hard to navigate your grief or want more advice or information about what we do, the 2wish team would love to hear from you.

However, we also have specific support available to men and are committed to providing the best help and guidance for any bereaved man. All you need to do is let our team know and we will be there for you. Find it hard to ask for help? Why not join our 2wish Men’s Community on Facebook and get support from other men?

You can call us on (01443) 853125 or email us at and we will do our utmost to provide you with the help you are looking for. Reach out today and talk to one of our team.