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GriefNet Library: Articles & Manuscripts
SHE CRIES — HE SIGHS
by Buz Overbeck
A. MALE/FEMALE RELATIONSHIPS
  
    1. Most relationships are intrinsically difficult.
  
       HE: ``Big Picture''      ---   SHE: ``Details''
       HE: ``Thinks''           ---   SHE: ``Feels''
       HE: ``Logical''          ---   SHE: ``Intuitive''
       HE: ``Copes Internally'' ---   SHE: ``Copes Externally'' 
       HE: ``Sighs''            ---   SHE: ``Cries''
  
    2. Men, Women & Grief
  
       a. Myths of Parent's Grief
  
            1.  Men Grieve Differently Than Women
            2.  Men Need To Express Their Feelings
            3.  Both Parents Are Grieving Over The Same Event
  
       b. Five Facts of Parent's Grief
  
            1.  The intensity of His grief is dependent on his
                pre-death relationship with the fetus, baby or child. 
  
            2.  The intensity of Her grief is dependent on the place
                the pregnancy or child held in her hopes, dreams, future,
                self-esteem and self-worth.
  
            3.  Most fathers resolve (or make peace) with their grief in 
                3 to 6 months.
  
            4.  Most mothers need 9 to 24 months (or more!) to resolve their
                grief.
  
            5.  Most men truly feel their spouse need professional help after
                3 to 6 months.
  
  B. POTENTIAL RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS
  
    1. SHE needs to talk about the event.  She goes over it time and
          again trying to gather every possible detail to explain Why and How.
  
       HE feels uncomfortable dealing on such a feeling level and finds
          excuses to avoid such confrontations.
  
    2. SHE takes comfort in her faith.  ``God's Will'' may be the
       only explanation that gives any meaning to the event.
  
       HE is angry with God, feeling that the event invalidates his religion.
  
    3. SHE often wants to visit the grave.
  
       HE feels an aversion to visiting the cemetery.
  
    4. SHE withdraws, reads books on grief, and writes as a means of
       expressing her pain.
  
       HE throws himself into his work, hobby, or other activities
       to keep busy and avoid the pain.
  
    5. SHE expects him to grieve and behave the same as she
       does and thinks he doesn't care when he doesn't. 
  
       HE needs space to grieve in his own way and resents her for
       imposing her feelings on him.
  
    6. SHE seeks Support Groups as an outlet for her expression.
  
       HE wants to avoid showing his pain in front of other people;
       particularly strangers!
  
    7. SHE has no interest in Sex and resents his desire for it at
       this time.  
  
       HE wants to make love for the comfort and reassurance that
       comes through intimacy.
  
    8. SHE knows that her life is irrevocably changed and will
       never be the same again.
  
       HE wants her and their life back the way it was before the
       event.
  
    9. THEY can sometimes compete with each other to see who is
       grieving the hardest.
  
   10. THEY seek to escape the event by taking a vacation, moving,
       changing jobs, etc.
  
   11. THEY seek to numb their pain through Alcohol, Drugs,
       Shopping, Extramarital affairs, or Another Child.
  
   12. THEY are angry with the Doctor or other authority figures
       involved with the event and have, more than once, discussed
       legal action.
  
   13. THEY feel betrayed by their family and friends through their
       perceived lack of understanding and caring.
  
   14. THEY both feel the other person is, in some way, to blame for
       the event.
  
   15. THEY are both so caught up in their own grief that there is
       no recognition or understanding of the grief experienced by their
       children or extended family members.
  
  C. WHAT CAN BE DONE
  
    1.  Meet with the potentially, or newly, bereaved parents as soon
        as possible.
  
    2.  Explain to them the statistical potential for a negative

         marital outcome during the bereavement period.
  
    3.  Counsel them about the grieving needs and expectations of each
        other and the importance of recognizing and allowing each other the
        natural expression of their grief.
  
    4.  Explain the Potential Relationship Problems so that they can
        recognize patterns that may develop.
  
    5.  Encourage and help HER find a local Support Group where she can
        find others who will share her experiences with her.
  
    6.  Encourage HIM to go to a couple of meetings with her only as an
        observer.  Tell them both that there will be no pressure put on him
        whatsoever to actively participate. Most men will inevitably
        participate if you can just get them there!
  
    7.  Discourage the making of any decisions that will impact any
        important area of their life for one year!.
  
    8. If there are other children, encourage them to express and
       discuss their grief openly and honestly, give concern to how the
       child is coping with the experience, and recognize that the child is
       grieving too.
  
    9. Help move them towards an awareness and acceptance of each
       others grief using the following 3 step guide:
  
       1.  Compartmentalize The Event
  
            * List and discuss those elements of grief unique to Her.
            * List and discuss those elements of grief unique to Him.
            * List and discuss those elements of grief common to Both.
  
       2.  Encourage Individual Grief
  
            * Help her give him permission to express his grief in his own way.
            * Help him give her permission to express her grief in her own way.
  
       3.  Encourage Mutual Grief
  
            * Encourage them to establish periods during each week
              where they can express and share their common feelings.
  
            * Encourage them to establish periods during the week for
              intimacy and closeness were the loss is not discussed.
  
            * Encourage them to establish periods during the week or
              month for family activities which include the children, if any.

Buz Overbeck
TLC Group
PO Box 28551
Dallas, TX 75228

Publications For Transition
Loss and Change

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