2021 - February - Gazette - Masculine and Feminine Grieving

By: Jackie Naginey Hook
Thursday, February 25, 2021

 Masculine and Feminine Grieving

HEART – Helping Empty Arms Recover Together – is a support group that Jenn Stubbs and I facilitate for individuals and couples who have experienced pregnancy and early infant loss. One night of our six-week, once-a-week group gathering is dedicated to masculine and feminine grieving. It is at this time that we have a conversation about how we are all a unique mix of masculine and feminine qualities and use both in our healing – males and females are both combinations of the masculine and the feminine.

This topic of masculine and feminine grieving is always of great interest to the group because these couples and individuals have already become acutely aware of differences in their grief journeys and they’re grateful for some context for those differences. For example, one night a wife said, “I get it. I was inside crying all winter while my husband was outside chopping wood. I thought he wasn’t grieving but I see now that he was.” Many other nights women have shared that although they expressed their feelings of loss to their partners before, it was only in this group that their partners shared more deeply.

As the couples begin to think about differences in their grieving styles, we discuss author and social worker Thomas R. Golden’s work on what aids the different qualities. For example, the masculine heals in an active mode whereas the feminine heals in an interactive one - the masculine likes to do something with the pain while the feminine likes to express and verbally share it.  In the documentary, “Voices of Grief: Honoring the Sacred Journey,” a father who lost his infant son speaks about going out and pushing himself on bike ride after bike ride while his wife shares about connecting with a supportive church community.

Sadly, in our culture, we often judge the feminine ways as better and the masculine as not doing the work of grief. The masculine way is more quiet and less visible than the feminine. However, this is not the same throughout the world. In some cultures, tasks are separated by males and females and they work together to enact the rituals of grief.

Another thing that aids the masculine is being connected with the future while the feminine wants to be connected to the past. On the feminine side, I remember a mother in one group grieving the loss of her adult son. This woman couldn’t see the next step she wanted to take because any step felt like it was taking her farther away from her son. And on the masculine side, I think of a couple who created a scholarship and yearly fundraiser to honor their daughter into the future.

It’s helpful to respect the differences in the masculine and feminine ways of healing in yourself and in others. It enables you to more fully allow your grief, and companion others in theirs.

To learn more about masculine and feminine grieving, we invite you to visit the March blog posts on the Koch Funeral Home website. We also invite you to the following upcoming gatherings.

For more information, please visit the Bereavement Gatherings and Events page on the Koch Funeral Home website. To reserve your spot and receive the invitation links, email Jackie@JackieHook.com, call 814-404-0546 or visit the Koch Funeral Home Facebook page @kochFH.

As the Spanish poet Antonio Machado wrote, “Traveler, there is no path. The path is made by walking.” We encourage you to walk your path of grief with the masculine and feminine qualities that make you who you are.

Jackie Naginey Hook, MA, is a spiritual director, celebrant and end-of-life doula.  She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College.  For more information, please call 814-237-2712 or visit www.kochfuneralhome.com.

 

           

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