Resources for Grieving Men has been updated and I’ll continue to add notes as I read books and come across new information. If you work in the field or are a person with experience in bereavement and you have suggestions, please send them in.
I’ve got a book sitting in my research pile that I already know talks a great deal about men’s need to memorialize in some way the person they have lost. This darling video is proof of how some men live out that need. And you really feel what a loving man Fred is.
Still in pre-production and research. I’m very much enjoying, if that’s the right word, Widower, by Scott Campbell and Phyllis R. Silverman. It’s a great book for research for a film in that documents in interviews (just like a doc!) the experience of over twenty widowers in different phases of the grief. Some of the book’s subjects are speaking only months after their loss, others more than a decade afterwards. In the ten months that I’ve been working with my own bereavement group, I’ve had no clue what goes on with straight men when they lose a loved one. Widowers don’t come to group to sit around and talk with us ladies! My big takeaways so far:Men deal with many of the same bugaboos that drive women crazy after loss: The feeling that everything sets everything else off (especially early on) Useless advice, platitudes and indifference/impatience from family and friends (One widower in the book, Bill, specifically identifies his need to “re-people” his life with new acquaintances after being treated roughly by those upon whom he thought he could rely. As he says, “I know them for they are now. I call them friends but I know they are not. I forgive them for what went on but I don’t forget.”) Social isolation (Although men seem to experience this more in the physical sense as being untouchable) Some of the ways that men’s grief experience differs from women: They are more like to face the expectation from others that they will rise above their feelings in some regard Widowers are surprised that they are impotent for a period after their wife dies. …This one was kind of peculiar to me for a variety of reasons. The first being that pretty much ALL of the men who have lost their wives experience impotence but they are ALL a bit surprised when it happens to them. This points perhaps to how little they talk amongst themselves about these major life events and how slim the shared knowledge. (Hopefully, making a film and getting more men’s bereavement groups going can address this.) The other aspect that is interesting to me as a woman is that this is a thing at all. Death and the shock and grief of it kills a person’s sex drive. Period. Man or woman. Women who lose their husbands have no desire for another man when grieving either.
The sex-drive-in-grief thing was one of my complaints about Silver Linings Playbook. It was so right-on with so much of the depiction of bi-polarity that the fact that the Tiffany character became wildly promiscuous in her grief and slept with everyone in her office was a giveaway to me that the film was scripted by a man (even if it was simply a plot device needed to give her a “problem”.) I don’t know ANY women – and I now personally knows tens of women who have lost a spouse – who have turned to sex for comfort or acted out sexually in their grief. I’m not saying a widow who uses sex for comfort and/or distraction is like a unicorn but its very uncommon to turn to sex indiscriminately if you weren’t already a person who comforted yourself that way beforehand.
Anyway, still have about a third of Widower left. And a continually growing pile of other research.