Do men and women cope with grief differently?

We recently did a user survey, to find out more about all of you, and what you think of this site. Thanks very much to all who took part. One interesting result was that three quarters of our users are female. This got me wondering, is there a reason for this imbalance?

We do know that men can often find it harder to open up and talk about their emotions. For example, some research done by Sue Ryder showed that 1 in 4 bereaved men do not talk about grief, compared to 1 in 7 women.

However, I can think of quite a few very active male users of this site who are doing a great job sharing their experiences and supporting each other, so it is by no means always the case. And, with high profile men such as Prince Harry and Rio Ferdinand recently speaking publicly about grief, perhaps there are signs that attitudes might be starting to change?

What do you think? Do men and women cope with grief differently, or seek out different forms of support?

It seems like an easy question on the surface but there are so many facets to consider. Not only are there differences between men and women but there are also differences between members of the same gender that have an impact on how they deal with grief and/or seek help. It would be interesting to see the ratio of male to female members attending in-person support groups. Maybe a factor to the imbalance is also that women live longer than their male partner’s - not always of course but generally speaking. The great thing about online forums is that when we speak with someone we speak to someone as a fellow bereaved and not as a widow or widower.

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I think grief is a very personal experience that said it’s obvious that men do struggle with sharing there emotions but I do believe attitudes are changing in my group men come and go after a few sessions I think they felt they should have been able to master their emotions and not spend endless time discussing their feelings as on some level they don’t really think it will help I could be wrong but that’s the impression I got. I also think woman find discussing their feelings very healing and it helps them to make sense of their loss. Maybe it is purely down to vunerability men feel that their role in society do not permit them to expose themselves in such a vunerable way we as woman are equally stereotyped by being expected to be emotional creatures. Personally I think pain is pain and loss is the greatest pain we will ever experience and sharing how I feel allows me to release those feelings it also gives me comfort and makes me feel connected at a time when I feel very lost and adrift. xx


Hello Priscilla, I did wonder if the imbalance could be explained by men and women experiencing grief differently, but judging by the posts on this site that is not the case. Whether we have lost a parent, partner, sibling or child, and whether we are male or female, we all seem to express the same range of emotions so I think we all feel grief in much the same way.

At the last bereavement group I attended there were twice as many women as men, and while you’d expect more women than men not only because women live longer than men as Tina points out, but also because husbands are usually older than their wives, I don’t think this fully accounts for the imbalance on this site or in bereavement groups.

So the evidence suggests that men and women do use different coping mechanisms to deal with grief, with women attending groups and joining communities like this more than men do. I don’t know if it is genetic or cultural, but Aquarius is spot on in my view - men are far more reluctant to appear vulnerable, and openly express emotions that make them look weak than women. While women get it out of their systems by talking and crying when they need to, I think men tend to bottle up and bury their feelings. And perhaps it’s not surprising that it takes longer to get grief out of your system than it does to just cover it up, which is consistent with findings on grieving times for men and women.

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I so agree with you. At the moment I am numb. I am silent. I am speechless. I am unable to discuss. I am unable to say how I feel. I lost my brother July 2016. and my mother March 2017. How can this be. I know having put this out I so feel supported. So yes, I agree with you

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Yes do agree men find it harder to let it out as there say, I found it hard at first but now not so much, as I walk around house taking to ed and our daughter tanya, asking ed if I did this write doing washing and if anything goes missing tell tanya to put it back as she always borrowed my stuff, crying at the same time and when talking to my other 2 daughters telling how I feel,there going though the same thing as me but there also have to keep an eye on me so there have I harder, it really is the Pitts this being on your own cooking washing shopping for 1,especially the weekends, but my grandchildren stay most weekends always have 1 or 2, so we always talk about nanny or aunty, there to are having counselling to but I do worry what happens when there start to do there own thing and don’t come anymore, sleep is my biggest thing at the moment gp did give me some pills but there won’t carry on giving them, so the anxiety sets in and just lie there worrying and thinking, anybody any ideas have tried blue light, reading, staying up late going out walking, Micky.

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Thanks everyone, it is really interesting to hear your thoughts on this, and to get a perspective from some of our male users.

By opening up on this site, you are not only venting your own emotions, you are also helping others to see that what they are feeling is normal, and maybe encouraging them to do the same. So thank you to all our posters, you should be proud of yourselves.

Hi Micky and all, it seems we all feel the acute pain of loneliness having shared our days and nights, happy times and sad times with loved ones. It is becoming more difficult to share the pain with my daughter and son so chatting on this site has helped. Getting out of the house for a walk or gardening changes my mood and physical exercise is good too. I go to several classes each week, yoga, swimming etc and have found people so kind and willing to chat. Having said that all the grief is still there when on my own again but at least there has been some temporary respite. My lovely husband would not have been able to express his grief openly and he is the one man I know best. The pain is the same but how men and women express or suppress it is different. There is no time limit to this it is forever so we cannot ever think enough is enough. Be kind to yourselves and keep talking and sharing.

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As a stubborn bloke, we bottle it up and don’t talk about grief as much as we should

Yes you got it in one we just bottle it up I do any way why do we do it we know it’s nort good.