By Kelly Jones, LPCC
Men that are grieving often have a difficult time following the death of their spouse. Our culture emphasizes the need for men to be strong and silent in their grief. Consequently, men have difficulty reaching out for grief support. Grief does not discriminate between genders. Therefore, men need to be equally supported in their grief, just as we support women.
Through in-home personalized grief counseling, Family Hospice and Palliative Care give hope to men following the death of a spouse. As a bereavement counselor, I have had the pleasure of working with a group of men who are inspirational in their own grief. All are World War II veterans, all have lost spouses after 50 to 60 years of marriage, and all are now experiencing their own physical ailments limiting their independence. Often times we hear stories or know someone who is elderly and gives up their will to live, after the death of their spouse. Not this group of spirited, resilient men.
One bereaved gentleman suffered a back injury caring for his wife. Confined to a wheelchair for three months, he looks forward to getting back to driving, once he is medically cleared to do so. Working through his grief, he shares that simple pleasures and memories of times with his wife are what bring him a sense of fulfillment.
These men have healed through their losses by sharing their stories. They have shed tears and understood the normalcy and therapeutic importance of expressing their emotion. All of these men have successfully maneuvered through the grieving process and they became survivors.
Dedicating necessary time needed to reflect on their own personal grief journeys, they all have created a new found identity for themselves and still continue to find enjoyment pursuing their interests: cooking, gardening, bird watching, model car collecting, and reuniting with family.
Men can be successful in their grief, but the proper grief intervention for each individual must be initiated to begin the healing process. Successful interventions include seeking refuge in a safe place for emotional expression, creating rituals of remembrance, reading to relax emotional anxieties and participating in support groups with other men experiencing grief.
Hospice organizations have recognized the importance to counsel and support men through the grief process and offer personalized counseling services, remembrance ceremonies, and support groups for grieving spouses. For more information on this type of support, visit www.familyhospice.com, click on “Patients and Caregivers,” and then on “Bereavement & Support Groups.”
Kelly Jones, LPCC (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor), conducts individual and group bereavement support sessions for children and adults whose loved ones were under Family Hospice care. Ms. Jones also facilitates anticipatory grief support to children and families. She is active in the planning and presentation of Camp Healing Hearts, an annual one-day summer bereavement camp for kids 6-12, coping with the loss of a loved one, and is instrumental in Family Hospice’s memorial services, held several times each year for families and friends of those who have passed away. She earned her Bachelor Degree in Psychology, and her Masters in Education from the University of Toledo, the latter in the Community and Agency Counseling Program. A native of Toledo, Ohio, Ms. Jones worked with Hospice of Northwest Ohio as a bereavement counselor for six years, specializing in pediatric patients and their families, before arriving in Pittsburgh. She also contributed to the development of a “Kids Care Kit” for children who were experiencing the impending death of a loved one on hospice..