We stopped delivery of “The New York Times” so the only newspaper that arrives in the mail is “Funeral Home & Cemetery News” Oddly, it does not have obituaries, which I miss, nor a crossword puzzle, but in the issue I received today there is an article by Herb Knoll, author of “The Widower’s Journey” and founder of the Widowers Support Network about grieving men who are misunderstood. That was relevant since two men I care about recently lost women they’d been married to for a long time.
In these, my golden years (mostly golden because I color my hair), I’ve observed the difference in how women and men respond to these crises. Typically, women are there to support those in need of attention. We are also not ashamed to say we’re hurting. This article addresses the fact that men may have been conditioned to appear to be stoic. It refers to the term “cocooning,” describing that widowed men often choose to tough it out on their own, isolating themselves. He includes some frightening statistics – that 65% of widowed men and women are likely to have a life-threatening illness within a year of their spouse’s death and that widowed men are 3-4 times more likely than married man to commit suicide.
The article advises us to connect more, whether we are the one in pain or the caring friend. Help may be obtained by going to a grief group. But I’ve been trying to reach out and have conversations with these males friends, who seem eager to talk about their feelings.