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Gender Differences in Grieving

Everyone grieves the loss of a child differently. Feelings may be similar— sadness, helplessness, anger — but the way they are processed and expressed can be very different from person to person. There are many factors that affect how a person experiences and expresses grief. Coping strategies, life experiences, communication styles, personality, and support systems can all influence individual responses.

Gender and cultural influences can also play a role in how people grieve. These factors shape how people process and express emotions. Although generalizations are not true for everyone, men and women often differ in their grief responses. However, whether a response is more common to a man or woman is not as important as recognizing and supporting individual differences. Accepting differences can help family members give one another space to grieve in their own ways.

Finding Support

Everyone needs support in grief regardless of how they grieve. After losing a child, family members need validation that their responses are normal. Each person tries to cope in his or her own way. But, families also need to find ways to connect and come together in their grief.

It can help to remember that:

  • Expressing grief is important.
  • Listening to others may help you feel less alone and more normal in your own experience of grief.
  • Each person needs to feel acknowledged and accepted.
  • One person cannot provide all the support another person needs.
  • Grief after losing a child is a lifelong journey, and needs change over time.

A variety of resources are available to help family members in their grief. Some people find it helpful to read books from authors with a similar grief perspective. Support groups can help people find connection and sense of belonging in grief. Professional help is also available. Marriage and family counseling can be an important resource to help family members learn to accept differences in grieving and find ways to grieve together.

Reviewed: June 2018