Monday, April 09, 2007

Men and Women Grieve Differently

There are a number of reasons for this. Variations in your personalities and the way you've been raised, as well as how bonded you were with the baby, are primary factors.

Generally, women are more expressive about their loss, more emotional about it, and more likely to look for support from others. Since society expects men to be strong and unemotional, they most often grieve in more solitary and cognitive ways. Men also tend to be more oriented to fact-gathering and problem-solving and may, therefore, not choose to participate in support networks which are oriented toward talking and feeling. While women may cry and dwell on their memories of the baby, men may express their grief by burying themselves in their work. Keep in mind, though, that because grieving is such an individual experience, the opposite may also be true.

These differences in style may be misinterpreted. If you're a woman and your partner doesn't appear to be as upset as you are, you may believe that he doesn't care about the loss of the baby, and you may feel abandoned by him. If you're a man, on the other hand, you may feel that your wife will never get over her mourning. It's important to remember that how a person acts is not always a true indicator of his or her inner feelings.

There are differences, also, because parents experience different levels of bonding with a baby. The bond between a pregnant woman and the baby growing insider her is unique. Generally, it grows more intense as the pregnancy progresses. For the father, the baby may seem less "real." Although he may begin bonding during pregnancy as he experiences physical signs of the baby, like seeing an ultrasound picture or feeling the baby kicking, a father's real bonding may not develop until after the baby is born. For this reason, men may seem less affected when the loss of the baby occurs early in pregnancy.

These differences may cause conflict in a relationship as you struggle together and separately to come to terms with the loss of your baby. But there are things you can do to help your relationship survive:

* Be caring about each other and your feelings and needs.
* Keep an open line of communication and share your thoughts and emotions.
* Accept your differences and acknowledge each other's pain.
* Assure one another of your commitment to your relationship.
* Talk about your baby and find ways to remember him or her.


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