During the month of June we celebrate Father’s Day. Like Mother’s Day we set a day a part to honor our fathers in a very special way. This can be a very painful day for fathers who are grieving the death of a child to suicide. It is also a very painful day for those survivors who are grieving the death of a father or grandfather from suicide. As always, it is important to commemorate these days and to remember fathers and also to be aware that this day can be very painful for people who are grieving either for a deceased child or for a deceased father or grandfather. The lesson to be learned is to be sensitive to the feelings of people around us and to address the situation and not to try to make it better by attempting to put a positive spin to a painful situation. The world around us tries to cover over painful situations instead of addressing the elephant in the room. Members of the LOSS family are encouraged to identify the elephant and talk about it and not to pretend that the elephant is not there. It is there and it must be addressed.
Years ago I remember a few men who were part of the LOSS family talking about meeting people in stores or on the street and these people would inquire about how a wife was doing or other members of the family were doing since losing a loved one to suicide. These men were puzzled and hurt and angry, because these same people failed to ask the men how they were doing. The people might have passed over these men, because they just presumed that the men were doing alright. The puzzlement and the anger and the hurt stemmed from the fact that the people inquiring presumed that the men were doing alright when in fact they were hurting and were just as devastated from the suicide as the other members of the family were.
Some segments of society are under the false illusion that men do not feel pain or grief with the same intensity as women. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is that men feel pain and grief with the same intensity as women. Sometimes men might not be as expressive as women with their feelings, but it is false to conclude that because the feelings are not expressed that the feelings are not felt or are not present. I can see why men might be angry if someone inquires about a wife or other members of a family and ignores inquiring about how the father is doing. The fact of the matter is that men hurt as deeply as women do and also love as deeply as women do. The love of women has been extolled and written about in verse and song. What about the love that men experience? Why not write songs or poems about the love that men either express or feel?
It is time to address that the feelings of men are real and deep. Not all men personify the Marlboro Man. That image does a great disservice to the male population. Men have the same makeup as women in terms of feelings. Men get hurt. Men feel great pain. Sometimes men might project the “tough guy” image. Such men might be under the impression that to show feelings is a sign of weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is not a sign of weakness to either feel feelings or to admit that one is having some feelings. Sometimes people express that “they are getting stronger with the feelings of grief because they are not crying as often or as hard”. There again is a sign of a false illusion. Such an expression is equating the feelings with being weak. The expressing of feelings is not a sign of weakness. The expressing of feelings is nothing more than admitting that one is human. Feelings are signs of being human and having human emotions and feelings. Unfortunately, some in society are of the opinion that feelings are signs of weakness and maybe men don’t want to be perceived as being weak. We do men a disservice by perpetuating such a false image. Crying is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign that one has human emotions and when someone is sad or grieving tears are most appropriate and it is allowable and should be encouraged to be expressed. The Marlboro Man is dead and the image of the Marlboro Man is a false impression of the men in society. Allow the men in families the encouragement and the opportunity to express their true feelings with other members of the family.
The challenge will be for the men in the families to make use of the opportunity to be honest with their feelings and to shrug off the impression that feelings are a sign of weakness. It is more than acceptable to be tender and warm and loving. Such behavior should be encouraged. It is time to break down the barriers that prevent men from being able to express their feelings of warmth and tenderness. Men feel the same feelings as women and should be able to express them in the same fashion as women. No one should look askance if a man cries or shows signs of tenderness to other men. Men love deeply and men hurt deeply. Allow men the opportunity to express these feelings without the fear of being perceived as a “softie”. Feelings are not soft. They are a part of the makeup of every human being – male as well as female. Men should be accorded the same opportunities to express their feelings as women.
It would be nice to live in a society free of all stereotypes. To allow men the free rein to express their feelings of grief and sadness is a step in the right direction. Stereotypes categorize people and put them in categories that inhibit the freedom of expression of feelings. It is time to either eliminate the stereotypes or at least break them down because they hinder people and prevent them from truly expressing how they are feeling. Let’s be honest with our feelings.
As always I want to assure each member of the LOSS family of my thoughts and prayers on a daily basis during my quiet time and I encourage each of you to do the same for each other – especially for those who have recently joined our family. Let’s have a special remembrance for those members for whom Father’s Day is going to be particularly painful.
Keep On Keepin’ On,