“Now tough blokes like us don’t have to worry about grief because we just get on with it, right?” Anthony suggested, to nods from thirty other men huddled in the man cave.
Wrong. (We weren’t exactly huddled, either. It was a balmy Sydney evening and the men were sitting in an open area as the sun slowly set to an orange glow in the west, eating steaks and drinking beer.)
Anthony was introducing a discussion about men and grief.
If men didn’t need to talk about grief, why were so many here? It was one of the largest gatherings ever in the ‘man cave’, the men’s group Anthony and a few of his mates had started.
Turned out the men did need to talk. Some told very sad and personal stories about their grief. One man spoke about the death of his wife the year before. It was the first time he’d talked to anybody about it and here he was, sharing many of the details with a large group. It was wonderful to see the men come up and shake his hand afterwards.
One man was quite angry. He was annoyed that men are expected to be able to switch from strong and stoic, handling their grief in silence to suddenly talking about it when society wants them to.
“We’re expected to go from being strong and silent to touchy-feely then back again. That’s very hard to do, especially when you’ve been trained from a young age not to share your emotions,” he said.
Food for thought indeed.
Gus Worland is an Aussie who says bottling up grief is dangerous. He links it to male suicide. See what he has to say at manup.org.au/ including these great bloke stories for You can learn about his Man Up campaign that challenges the stereotypes about men and grief.
And if you’re feeling like digging further watch Manup Episode 2 where he travels Australia and finds the men making a difference. It’s a no-holds barred look at men including a nude yoga session.
But the threat of suicide is not the only reason to talk about grief. Another might just be that it’ll feel better. And your mate might need it more than he’s letting on.
If you want to learn more on supporting your mates check out Gus Worland chatting with Margaret about suicide in men and Gotcha4Life.