“Man Up”: Re-Defining How Men Grieve
There is a scene in a movie I wish to describe. Two men are walking on a baseball diamond towards home plate on a setting sun in Iowa. One of the men bends over and gathers his gear and wishes the other good night, then starts making his way towards the outfield. When the man gets to about the pitchers mound, the other says “Dad? Can we have a catch?” to which the other responds, “I would like that.” The two start playing catch, and continue to play catch until the sun goes down.
This movie scene, from Field of Dreams, is the only scene in which I have witnessed my father cry after it finished. When asking my mother why dad was so upset, a simple response of “It just reminds him of his daddy.” was enough for me. You see, my grandfather passed away at a very young age, my dad only being 20 years old. My father and my grandfather used to play catch in the yard often, and the scene I’m sure makes him wish that just one more time he could do it again.
I think it’s safe to say that men are expected not to cry. No mater how hard it hurts, society expects us to get up, dust ourselves off, and move on. Who cares if when sliding into second base, you scraped your knee. Who cares if while sorting through your files you get a paper cut. Put some ‘sporin on it and keep sorting! Unfortunately, these social stigmas have left us with no other choice but to “man-up” and move on.
My take: This needs to stop.
Pain is singular. I’ll agree on that. Everyone has a different pain tolerance and experience. That being said, our reaction to such pain needs to change. Fella’s, the loss of a loved one is not a paper cut or raspberry. There is no shame if when you feel the emptiness of life missing around you, to let it show. Crying is how we let it show. It makes our friends and family around us aware of the support and love we need from them and allows them to love and reach out to you. Opening ourselves up to others is incredibly healing and helpful for everyone involved.
I guess what I’m getting at is “Man Up” and cry – if that’s what you need. Open yourself up. Closed doors during the grieving process are only waiting to be opened again.
After learning more about my grandfather’s funeral, I found out that my father held a lot in. He closed multiple doors to his friends and family, and now lives with the repercussions of breaking down into tears when he receives a painful reminder. Maybe letting it show earlier would have helped? I don’t know. Everyone is different. But I do know this: allowing yourself to grieve the way you need to is the best thing you can do for yourself. Whatever way, shape, or form that takes throw yourself into it. It’s difficult, but that’s what makes it all the more courageous, important, and manly.