When you lose someone you love, they remain lost, but eventually those left behind do find themselves again.

Men and showing emotions

It is often said that most men do not show their emotions – but this is not true. What is true is that most men do not show their emotions in the way most women do. Women seem, quite effortlessly, to have a way of showing, or rather, sharing their emotions, which for us men is a wonder, a mystery. Watch a group of women gathered around a table having a cup of tea together: one of them will be talking whilst the others are listening; then another will take up the conversation sharing their own feelings on the matter – it is intimate and honest. Most men cannot do that, or at least, not men of my generation, those of us in our sixties and seventies, who were brought-up with the ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality of our forebears.

Of course, this is a generalisation: some men, younger men perhaps, can and do share their feelings in this way – but it would seem, it is the act of conversation itself that is important. No-one is trying to ‘solve the problem’ – they just want to be heard, their feelings acknowledged. Women are supremely good at that.

A conversation about loneliness

Meanwhile, four men are in a bar. They are standing somewhat apart, laughing and joking, but something else is going on between them. One of them, John, is emotionally exhausted, as his wife passed away six months ago. He looks tired and he is quieter than usual, a little slumped. The other men have read his body language. They say nothing, but they are making sure he is included.

When he first arrived, Peter said, “Hi John. How’s it going?”

And John had said, “Not so good.”

There was a moment of silence as another of the men ordered the drinks. Then Peter somewhat awkwardly put his arm around John’s shoulder and changed the subject. “What did you think of the Arsenal game?”

John is a fan. “It was a shambles,” he said. “We were useless.”

The men laughed. “Well, at least you’re not a West Ham fan like me – we’re always useless!” said Peter, releasing John from his friendly embrace. They laughed again. Job done. John now feels more relaxed. He’s going to enjoy his evening.

Later, when the others have gone John and Peter agree to walk home together. They both live nearby. As they walk, Peter says to John, “You know, my brother’s wife died a couple of years ago? It’s a bugger, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is,” says John. “It’s the loneliness. I don’t seem to be able to get over it.”

“My brother felt the same,” says Peter. “You have to just take one day at a time.”

“I will,” says John. “Thanks.”

Two days later, Peter calls John and asks him if he would like to come to the West Ham game on Saturday. “We’re playing Tottenham at home,” he says.

“That sounds good,” says John.

“Just don’t mention you’re an Arsenal supporter,” says Peter. They laugh.

Men and sharing their thoughts

Again, I know this is a generalisation, but for most men, the process of sharing is less extensive than for most women. But friendship, the evident support of close mates, is important. Being included matters.

In fact, sometimes, just being with someone is all that matters; because the ‘problem’ itself cannot be solved. The point of all this is that there are no rules for bearing sorrow and hurt: some bear it in silence; some need to talk, some need to be heard.

The fact remains that when you lose someone you love, they remain lost, but eventually, those left behind do find themselves again. With the help of friends, men can and do find their own way through loss. They do not have to become like women to do that: they have to become like men: to be able to accept friendship and loving kindness.

About the author: William Blyghton is the author of The House by the Marsh, his first novel on the themes of loss, love and friendship, published by Panacea Books. He lives in Suffolk.

 

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