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Shoulder to Shoulder: Building Resilience Through Men's Grief Support

Loss and grief are universal experiences, woven into the very fabric of human life. Yet, the reactions are anything but universal. It can strike in many forms, from the passing of a loved one to the loss of a cherished dream. The initial wave of grief can be overwhelming, a tidal force of emotions like sorrow, despair, and disbelief. Physical manifestations like fatigue, changes in appetite, and sleep disturbances are common companions. Anger, guilt, and even loneliness can also surface, leaving us feeling isolated and adrift.

Yet, within the depths of grief lies a hidden strength. It is a testament to the depth of our love and connection to what we’ve lost. Over time, the sharp edges of pain may soften, allowing us to begin the long journey of healing. We learn to carry the memory of our loss with love and acceptance. This helps with integrating it into the tapestry of our lives. The path of grief is unique to each individual. Grief is a winding journey with moments of both immense sadness and glimmers of hope.

It's Normal to Feel Grief after Loss

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It’s absolutely normal and healthy for men to feel grief when they experience loss. Often, societal expectations can create a misconception that men should be detached and unemotional in the face of hardship. However, grief is a natural human response to loss, and it shouldn’t be confined by gender norms. Here’s why expressing grief is healthy for men:

Grief is universal: Loss hits everyone hard, regardless of gender. It can be the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, a job loss, or any other significant change. Grieving is a natural way to process the pain and adjust to the new reality. Denying or suppressing these emotions can actually hinder healing and lead to more complex issues later.

Men experience complex emotions: Grief doesn’t just manifest as sadness. Men might also feel anger, confusion, guilt, even numbness. Each emotion is valid and deserves to be acknowledged and expressed. Bottling up these emotions can have negative consequences, like resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms or damaging relationships.

Healthy expression varies: Just because some men might not cry openly doesn’t mean they aren’t grieving. Men might express their grief through activities like spending time in nature, focusing on work, or connecting with friends and family in their own way. There’s no single “right” way to grieve, and finding healthy outlets for expression is crucial.

Seeking support is strength: Men shouldn’t feel pressured to navigate grief alone. Reaching out to therapists, support groups, or trusted friends and family can provide invaluable support and understanding. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help; it’s a sign of strength and self-awareness.

Healing takes time: There’s no set timeline for grief. Allow yourself the space and time to heal at your own pace. Some days will be harder than others, and that’s okay. Be patient with yourself and reach out for support when needed.

Remember, expressing grief is not just normal for men, it’s necessary. By acknowledging your emotions, finding healthy outlets for expression, and seeking support, you can navigate this challenging time and emerge stronger on the other side. You are not alone.

Counseling Solutions for Grief Concerns

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EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a therapeutic approach that can be helpful for clients recovering from grief. However, they work in different ways and address different aspects of the grieving process. Here’s how EMDR can contribute to healing:

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR):

  • Focuses on: Reprocessing traumatic memories to reduce their emotional impact.
  • For grief: EMDR can be particularly helpful for grief complicated by traumatic aspects of the loss. These traumatic aspects can include sudden death, witnessing the loss, or unresolved conflicts with the deceased. The bilateral stimulation (eye movements, tapping, or sounds) helps clients revisit emotionally charged memories in a safe space. A safe space allows them to process them in a healthier way and reduce their emotional intensity. This can lead to decreased anxiety, fear, and nightmares related to the loss, fostering a more peaceful acceptance.


Combined Approach:

  • Using EMDR in tandem can provide a comprehensive approach to grief recovery. EMDR builds essential emotional regulation skills. EMDR addresses specific traumatic memories associated with the loss. This combination can empower clients to manage their emotions, process difficult memories, and ultimately move forward with their lives.
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Two paragliders men standing on the top of mountain and drinking tea.
Stricken with grief. Shot of a grief-stricken man sitting on a sofa with his head in his hands.

Finding Strength and Hope through Counseling: A Message for Men

Grief counseling can be a powerful tool for men to find strength and hope after experiencing loss. Here are some ways it can help:

Providing a safe space to express emotions: Men are often conditioned to suppress their emotions, creating a barrier to healthy grieving. Grief counseling offers a safe and confidential space for men to express their unique emotions surrounding the loss. These unique emotions include sadness, anger, guilt, or confusion. This expression can be through talking, journaling, Expressive Arts Therapy, or other methods.

Challenging harmful societal expectations: Society often portrays men as needing to be stoic and emotionless, contributing to feelings of isolation and shame around grief. Grief counseling can help men challenge these expectations, allowing them to embrace their emotional needs and vulnerability as a sign of strength and self-awareness.

Developing healthy coping mechanisms: Grief can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms like isolation, or workaholism. Grief counseling equips men with healthier coping skills like mindfulness, stress management, and communication techniques to navigate their emotions effectively and avoid self-destructive behaviors.

Understanding grief as a process: Grief is not a linear process; it has ups and downs. Grief counseling helps men understand this journey and navigate the what  they might experience. This understanding can reduce frustration and self-blame, allowing them to be more patient with themselves and the process.

Building a support network: Grief can feel isolating, but men in grief counseling often form supportive connections with other men experiencing similar losses. Sharing experiences, listening to others, and offering mutual support can create a sense of community and belonging, fostering strength and hope.

Developing resilience and post-traumatic growth: Grief can be transformative. Grief counseling can help men identify the potential for personal growth and resilience that can emerge from the experience. This can lead to a renewed sense of purpose and meaning in life, even after loss.

Finding individual solutions: Men grieve differently. Grief counseling provides personalized support tailored to each man’s unique needs, preferences, and cultural background. This ensures a more effective and meaningful healing journey.

It’s important to remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you or someone you know is struggling with grief, consider reaching out to start your journey towards healing and finding hope again

I'm not Sure Grief Counseling Won't Make Things Worse

It’s important to remember that objections to grief counseling are not unique to men and can affect anyone dealing with loss. However, there are some specific concerns that men more commonly express due to societal expectations and gender norms. Here are some potential objections men might have:

Stigma and masculinity:

  • Fear of seeming weak or emotional: Men are often socialized to avoid expressing emotions openly, particularly vulnerability and sadness. Seeking help for grief can be seen as admitting weakness, which clashes with traditional notions of masculinity.
  • Concerns about judgment: Men might worry about being judged by others. This worry can be related to friends, family, or even therapists, for needing help with grief.
  • Belief that “real men” handle things on their own: Traditional views of masculinity emphasize self-reliance and stoicism, leading men to believe they should handle grief independently without seeking help.

Logistics and practicality:

  • Time commitment: Finding time for therapy sessions can be challenging, especially for men with busy schedules and work demands.
  • Finding a therapist: Men might feel uncomfortable discussing their emotions. Working with an experienced, compassionate therapist can make all the difference.

Concerns about therapy itself:

  • Skepticism about the effectiveness of therapy: Some men might question the value of therapy and how it can actually help them deal with grief.
  • Fear of reliving or worsening painful emotions: Talking about the loss can be emotionally difficult, and men might worry that therapy will only make them feel worse.
  • Concerns about confidentiality and privacy: Men might hesitate to share personal information and emotions with a stranger, fearing a lack of confidentiality.


It’s important to acknowledge these concerns and encourage open communication. Here are some helpful points to consider:

  • Grief counseling is not a sign of weakness: Seeking help is a sign of strength and self-awareness. It shows a willingness to invest in your well-being and emotional health.
  • Therapists are trained professionals: I understand the complexities of grief and can provide a safe, supportive space to explore your emotions and develop coping mechanisms.
  • Therapy is not one-size-fits-all: Different types of therapy exist, and you can find one that suits your needs and preferences.
  • It’s an investment in your future: Addressing grief effectively can improve your overall well-being, physical health, and relationships.

Remember, seeking help for grief is a courageous decision. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you feel overwhelmed or need support. Your mental and emotional health deserve attention and care

Grief Therapy Effectiveness: Navigating the Journey

While some individuals naturally adjust to grief over time, many struggle excessively. In these cases, grief therapy can offer a helping hand. However, its effectiveness varies depending on the type of grief you’re experiencing.

For normal grief: Research shows mixed results on symptom reduction through therapy. While some studies suggest modest improvements, others find less impact. However, therapy can potentially accelerate the adjustment process, helping you reach pre-loss levels of functioning faster.

For complicated grief: The picture becomes clearer with Complicated Grief Therapy (CGT). Studies demonstrate its strong effectiveness in reducing symptoms and boosting overall well-being. This specialized therapy addresses the unique challenges of complicated grief, going beyond symptom reduction to help you accept the loss and adapt to life without your loved one.

Remember: Grief therapy is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Individual needs and circumstances play a crucial role in its effectiveness. What works for one person might not work for another. This is where seeking professional guidance becomes essential. I can assess your specific situation and identify the most suitable approach.

No matter the path you choose: Remember, you are not alone in this journey. If you’re struggling with grief, reach out for support and guidance. There are resources available to help you navigate this challenging time.

Why Choose Revive Counseling?

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1. Different Perspective: I may offer a perspective that differs from traditional male therapists, potentially facilitating exploration of emotions and communication in ways that feel more relatable for some men.

2. Reduced Stigma: Some men might feel less stigma discussing certain issues with a female therapist, particularly those related to masculinity, vulnerability, or emotional expression.

3. Experience Treating Male Clients: Therapists with specific experience treating men’s issues, regardless of their gender, will likely be more attuned to their unique needs and challenges.

Building new relationships and identity: As individuals navigate their grief, counselors may also help them explore ways to build new relationships and develop a new sense of identity in the wake of their loss.

It’s important to note that grief is a unique and personal experience, and the specific techniques used will vary depending on the individual’s needs and preferences. If you are experiencing grief, seeking professional support from a qualified counselor can be incredibly helpful in navigating this challenging time.

As a Certified Grief Informed Professional, I have the knowledge and experience to help with grief and loss.