As funeral directors, you know that everyone has their own way of coping with grief. Many factors contribute to how someone grieve — from their personality, to their beliefs — but what about their gender?
Research shows that men and women have different ways of dealing with their grief. Of course, these results may not be true for all men and women, as people may find characteristics of themselves in ways both men and women typically grieve.
Let’s explore some of these findings and how funeral directors can use this information when communicating with grieving families.
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How Men and Women May Communicate Grief
According to an article from Psych Central, men want conversations to have a clear purpose, such as solving a problem quickly and efficiently. However, this can be difficult when it comes to grief because it takes time to process and cope with grief.
When it comes to women, Psych Central found that they want conversations to be intimate and they want to express their feelings. They see conversations as a way to show their emotions and let go of negative thoughts in their head. It’s also a way for them to organize their thoughts while trying to understand their feelings.
It’s beneficial for both men and women to communicate about their grief and emotions. Of course, everyone grieves differently, as people with introverted personalities may prefer to grieve privately, and that’s perfectly fine, too.
Society also often stereotypes women as being more emotional than men. But both genders show emotion in stressful and emotional situations, like when grieving a loss, and everyone deserves to express their grief free of judgment.
Other Contributing Factors
An article from Natural Parenting discusses other factors that contribute to how men and women communicate grief. When it comes to historical factors, men often are seen as protectors and providers, while women are seen as nurturers. Since men are historically viewed as these roles, it makes sense that they want to efficiently solve problems. Just as women’s nurturing nature fits with their desire to be intimate and share feelings.
A Huffington Post article discusses how men and women have slightly different brain structures, which may contribute to grieving techniques. Before the introduction of MRI technology in the 1970s and 1980s, male and female brains were assumed to be the same. But studies using MRI technology found several biological differences between male and female brains.
For example, the Huffington Post article mentions a study by Yale researchers that found men to be more left-brained versus right-brained, while it found women tend to go back and forth between the two sides.
Some of their other findings were:
- Women’s brains have more emotional activity, while men’s brains have more rational activity.
- Men tend to react better to stressful situations than women.
- Per day, women say up to 8,000 words and use as many as 10,000 gestures, while men use less than 4,000 words and less than 3,000 gestures.
In terms of grief, these findings support the different ways men and women typically grieve. Women want conversations to be expressive and tend to say everything on their mind, which may be why their daily word count is higher. Men want conversations to be as quick and efficient as possible, so they say only what’s necessary to the conversation.
Again, it’s important to note that not everyone fits these findings. Everyone grieves differently and there’s no right way for men and women to grieve.
How Funeral Directors Can Use This Information
Funeral directors can keep these findings in mind when communicating with families to get a better insight on how they’re feeling. The ways they communicate, such as their word choice and facial expressions, can show how they’re coping with their grief.
If they’re struggling with their grief, you can provide some grief resources, such as an informational blog or support group. Or, tell them about your funeral home’s grief program for providing healthy ways to cope with grief. As a funeral director, you know grief doesn’t end with the funeral, so you can continue to be there for families long after the funeral service.