How to Support a Man Who is Grieving

Grief affects us all. Unfortunately, it is something we will all face numerous times throughout our lives. It's part of the inescapable fabric of the human condition. Social and cultural norms have emphasized gender roles in terms of how they are expected to observe grief. Passed down from generation to generation, the responses to loss have become entrenched in our DNA. We take our cues on how to grieve through observation and experience: it isn’t something we are taught. In the United States, mediums such as film and television have played a significant role in how we learn, accept, and respond to grief. Although a loss is a loss, men and women have been expected to manage grief differently. In many ways, men have been expected to ignore their grief and have been socially and culturally shunned from embracing it. Knowing how to cope with loss can be difficult for men and equally challenging for family and friends looking to support them in their experience, which is why Ecorial has created a guide to knowing how to support a man who is grieving.

Male vs. Female Grief

We’ve all seen the movies. Stoicism has been a hallmark of many of the most iconic male characters on the big screen. For over 50 years, Clint Eastwood has single handly taught generations of boys how to “act like a man.” In his spaghetti westerns, his characters are nameless. Being so tough, he is simply known as “the man with no name.” For ages, men have been expected to keep their grief at bay while in the presence of others. Today, it is still difficult for society to embrace outwardly emotional men. They are still expected to “keep it together.” Otherwise, it could be seen as a sign of weakness. Women, on the other hand, are expected–and in some ways encouraged–to show emotion outwardly in their grief. If not, society will typically view them as “cold-hearted.” Our culture is comfortable accepting both reactions as normal. In both cases, there is no right or wrong way to mourn. It’s about what is genuine and authentic to the person experiencing loss. Only in the last few years has society begun to come to grips with these outdated rules and release its expectations of male grief. As the challenges of the times we live in continue to compound, it has become more critical than ever to address mental health concerns, offering support for men in their grief.

How Do You Support a Man Who is Grieving

It can be quite challenging to tell if a man suffers from grief—this is true even of his family and closest male friends. As much as they may want to share their struggles with you, it may go against the grain of their personal views and perceptions of the world. Admitting that they are in despair could make them feel like they are a failure and less of a man. Besides, if generations of men could bear it, why can’t they? It can take a sharp eye to notice the subtleties of their grief right after a tragic event. Words might be difficult for them to find when they are processing their experience. How to behave in general is a new language that they are quickly trying to learn. The best thing you can do at this moment is be open and available to any door they open to you. Here are some tips on how best to support them when this occurs:


If they want to talk, let them. Giving them a space to feel safe, supported, and heard will encourage them to release their thoughts and feelings more readily. There is no wrong way for them to express themselves, and your support in this will help validate their emotions. This is a healthy way for them to work through their grief and move closer to healing.


If they seem open to it, ask them how they are feeling. Sometimes a simple invitation is all it takes to get a conversation going. You may be surprised to learn that perhaps no one has asked. As a man, it’s not uncommon for them to be isolated when experiencing grief. You don’t have to worry about having the right words because there rarely are any. The fact that you’ve shown up makes all the difference.

Offer Your Company:

When experiencing loss, it may be difficult for a man to work through regular, everyday routines–mainly if their departed loved one is a spouse. Making sense of their home or simply clearing their head to manage paperwork or errands can be overwhelming. Being support in this can help ease the burden of their to-do box.  

Feed Them:

It’s pretty common with grief to forgo eating. A person suffering from a devastating loss can lose their appetite. Also, the task of shopping for groceries and preparing a meal is simply too much. They are racked with despair. Sending them a gift card or ordering takeout from their favorite restaurant is a great way to take one extra burden off their mind. Also, you’ll be helping them to keep their strength up while reminding them that even if they don’t want to talk, you still care.

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