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Bereavement Support Services

Impact of Death on Parents

Impact on Parents

Gender and Grief

Gender differences may also lead to conflict and misunderstanding between parents.

There is a wealth of research exploring gender differences regarding grieving and bereavement. Men are reported as more likely to contain their emotions, grieve alone and use physical activities as an expression of grief. Women are more likely to openly-express their feelings and want to talk about the death.

It is important to note that current literature acknowledges that some women do not grieve like most women and some men do not grieve like most men. The following information points out some of the differences between not just male/female grief but mother/father grief.

Feminine grief may include:

  • Tears, crying, uncontrollable weeping
  • Deep depression, listlessness
  • Extreme irritability, physical complaints
  • Abandonment, loneliness
  • Loss of identity (motherhood)
  • Social isolation, altered relationships
  • Guilt, blame and search for what went wrong
  • Problems with decision-making

Masculine grief may include:

  • Loss of hopes and dreams, loss of control
  • Loss of role as protector and one who fixes
  • Expected to show strong exterior, take action, move on quickly
  • May tend to work more, reluctance to talk
  • More permission to be angry and cover depression with outbursts
  • “How is your wife doing?”

Couples will have different styles, timetables and meaning in dealing with the death and loss. Giving permission to each other (partners, family members) to grieve individually, as is appropriate and most useful for them, is key to not only the survival of the relationship but the health of it. Current research findings do not demonstrate that there are higher divorce or separation rates in couples that experience the death of a child. Relationships with family and spouses may strengthen or weaken over time.9

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