Bereavementby Judy Carole
Men and women react differently
Arguably, men often find bereavement more difficult to deal with than women.
It is a fact that there are more women Samaritan volunteers, yet more men call the service than women. When a man is asked by a Samaritan ‘Is there anyone you can talk to about this?’ the answer is inevitably ‘no’. Events that would have women burning the communication airways to their all friends will have the opposite reaction with men, who will rarely talk to their mates about the things that are upsetting them most.
So, men and women are different. Women may agonise over how to ease that female co-worker’s return: ‘Should we say something or should we pretend nothing has happened?’ or ‘How can we get over the initial awkwardness?’ Meanwhile, she herself may be dreading the first day and having people either say nothing or not knowing what to say.
Men, on the other hand, don’t generally have this concern: they either say nothing or just say ‘Sorry to hear your news’ and then get on with it, with relatively little thought or preparation for the event. If it is possible to do this, it is pretty acceptable to say ‘Sorry to hear your news, if you feel like a pint/meeting up/lunch...’ in a male environment. This can, of course, be adapted to your particular circumstances.
As stated above, it is quite significant that more women are Samaritans and yet more men than women access the service. Men also react differently to grief. This is not to say that they do not have the same depth of sorrow; it is that most men find it very difficult to share their emotions with friends and need to return to work as soon as possible. Many feel better if they are active and working or doing something physical.