How men can experience the stages of grief differently

In this clip of the Family Care Learning Podcast, we hear from Garrett who discusses his experience of going through the stages of grief as a man. Garrett is a financial analyst. Him and his wife, Haley discuss how they were grieving at different times and in different ways after their foster kids were reunited with their bio families.

“I remember through our grief counseling, we were explained what the stages of grief were in the first one session,” Garrett recalled. “By session two I was like, I already finished all five,” he added.

It wasn’t until he had a conversation with a family member that he realized he was at a different stage of grief than he initially thought.

“I talked to my uncle actually, he asked me the same question everyone else had and it hit me in a different way and I just broke down and then talked with Haley and she got to see all of it and I’m like, okay, I was actually in stage one,” he said. “I was in denial the whole time,” he added. He shared how he thought the stages of grief were just five logical steps but he realized it can be a much more fluid process than one might think.

“Even for guys, even compartmentally, I could be well in my logical side; I can almost think I’m in acceptance, maybe it is still denial, but then you could get a memory that just hits you and it’s uncontrollable and then takes you all the way back to the depression or anger,” he shared.

Garrett described some of the stages of grief as coming in shockwaves at times. “I kind of had that understanding for Haley and I knew she’s better at her feelings than I am and even as we went through grief counseling, it’s like hearing her, I’m just in awe. I’m like, wow, how does she understand that?” Garrett said. He said that living through this grief experience, he learned a lot and continues to learn a lot. He said him and his wife definitely grieved in different ways. “At the start, I might’ve been like, oh, I need her to get to where I’m at when she’s fully healed, she should be where I’m at, but I think she was actually way further than me in processing through it and with much more awareness than I was,” he shared.

Brandon Jones, one of our therapists and family coaches at Arizona Family Counseling shared that he can relate to what Garrett was saying. “I think so many times as men and I thank you for saying that because even personally for grief experiences in my own life, I’ve compartmentalized,” Jones said. “There’s this sense of, I think this vulnerability as a man and I would rather just compartmentalize and kind of keep to the task and there is a tendency to kind of go, well, I’m doing it the good way because I’m less dysregulated and I’m just kind of keeping focused on it, but there is something I think soo powerful and beautiful about marriage relationships and our wives, oftentimes having more of a connection with their emotions and us being able to kind of learn from that,” Jones added. He also shared what he has noticed through counseling husbands and wives going through grief. “Sometimes wives might feel like the husband is just trying to protect, right and so it’s like, I’m compartmentalizing, I’m protecting, and yet, sometimes the wives can kind of interpret that as, ‘Do you not care?’ ‘Do you have a heart of stone right now?’ ‘How is this not bothering you?’ And we’re just going, let’s power through it and usually it’s out of a care concern of protection or just kind of moving forward and not wanting anyone in our family to hurt,” Jones explained. “I’m so thankful as you’re kind of acknowledging that because as compartmentalize as we try to be, that grief process is still there for us as men and we just sometimes try to avoid it as much as possible,” Jones said.

To watch the full podcast click here: Grieving In Foster Care With Your Spouse Part 2 – Family Care Learning Podcast #8