Grief is a normal and natural, though often deeply painful, response to loss. The death of a loved one is the most common way we think of loss, but many other significant changes in one’s life can involve loss and therefore grief.
Everyone experiences loss and grief at some time. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief is likely to be. Each individual experiences and expresses grief differently. No matter what the reaction, the grieving person needs the support of others and the opportunity to mourn this loss.
Why is grief important to males?
Grief creates an obstacle for our development as men. We lose so much as males that we often take these experiences and normalize them. Grief is an often misunderstood and neglected process in life. The complexity in responding to death or significant loss is often awkward, uncomfortable, even frightening, so we may try to avoid dealing with grief.
This can make the experience more lonely and unhappy than it might be otherwise. In Black male culture, accepting grief and not processing through it has been an accepted element within manhood. This develops a mental and emotional void within our development and functioning as men.
We have a cultural crisis within the Black community. In the middle of this crisis is the disparaging position that Black men are in.
It is dangerous for many of the Black males developing into men to be subject to this amount of grief. It leads to conscious and subconscious levels of helplessness and hopelessness. Once these emotional and mental conditions are introduced into the development of a man, they begin to create a ripple effect of dysfunction.
Ways to deal with grief
It is only natural to experience grief when losing something or someone significant to you. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself to grieve. There are many ways to cope effectively with your pain:
- Seek out caring people. Find understanding family and friends and/or join support groups.
- Express your feelings. It will help you to work through the grieving process. Crying offers a release.
- Use a method to document the healing process. It will help you get the feelings out and work through the process to document the healing process.
- Take care of your health. Maintain regular contact with a physician, and be sure to eat well and get plenty of sleep. Be aware of developing a dependence on medication, drugs or alcohol.
- Accept that life is for the living. It takes an effort to begin to live again in the present and not dwell on the past.
- Postpone major life changes. Try to hold off on making any major changes such as moving, changing jobs or having children. You should give yourself time to adjust to your loss before adding significant life responsibilities.
- Be patient. It can take months or even years to absorb a major loss and accept your changed life. Be sure to take the time you need, but do plan to move forward.
- Seek outside help when necessary. If the healing process becomes too overwhelming, seek professional help. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to seek help.
How grief is connected to Black masculinity
As Black men in America, our position is complex and often frustrating. We live in a world dominated by patriarchy. However, we may be the least powerful ethnic group of males, especially in the United States.
Whether one agrees with patriarchy or not, the fact of the matter is that in society as we know it today, having men in productive and organized systems leads to communities’ abilities to advance and maintain a position of stability.
However, when Black males have lost the ability to maintain a level of control over themselves, their families, and their communities, this leads to significant grief. Black males lose opportunities, relationships, connections to networks, and a concept of legacy. This is why accepting and processing grief is essential to the development of Black males.