Loss happens to everyone at some point. Some people experience loss by going to therapy and working out the issues, turning inwards, or externalizing the stress and challenges of losing someone, a job, a relationship, or an actual person in their life who dies. Substance use is, also, unfortunately, common for people who experience loss. If someone is in addiction recovery, this may also be a huge trigger for them to feel the pain of loss and not be able to cope without using substances. Men may struggle to deal with the emotional vulnerability of grief and loss, needing extra support to get through.
Symptoms of Loss
When men cope with grief and loss, they sometimes find they are not able to handle their outward emotions easily. They express externally and sometimes that means they might come across as anger or ruminating on thoughts over and over. Guys can become irritable and exhibit irascible behavior.
They might not be much fun to be around, grumpy, and lethargic. If they seem withdrawn, they may become isolated or desiring more quiet space than normal. Depending on the guy, they will exhibit their feelings differently. When men struggle with grief and loss, they also turn to substances like alcohol or drugs to deal with the loss and residual feelings.
How to Heal
Emotional processing is not easy for anyone, especially men. They often learn for the first time how to identify their emotions and accept them. Coping with grief and loss can be challenging. It is important to offer emotional based and activity-based opportunities. Men may want to hide away and not acknowledge their feelings.
If they can stay connected to loved ones, they are less likely to separate and isolate themselves from their feelings and other people. The more distance they have from their feelings and other people, the more likely they are to start using substances or relapse in recovery. Healing is a community journey. There are some key practices to try to help men better deal with grief and loss:
- Don’t push them into feeling their feelings
- Let them know they have support
- Encourage positive, healthy outlets and hobbies
- Show up and be consistent when they ask for help
- Listen but don’t judge or try to fix
Men need lots of support from their loved ones, partners, and friends. They need male friends and female friends because they all provide different levels and kinds of support. Don’t ever assume a guy is fine because men can deal with hard things easier. That’s a falsehood that lets men slip through the cracks unnoticed when it comes to handling grief and loss.
It may be hard to feel a loss but it is even harder to feel all alone walking through the residual feelings. Don’t give up on someone who is having a hard time coping. They likely need more than they say and just are waiting for an opportunity to feel heard and validated. Offer support and practice patience. If they need help, support them in reaching out for treatment spaces that will provide what they need to heal and grow in recovery.
At Alta Loma Transformational Living, our compassionate support team will help you deal with addiction and mental health issues in a positive, healthy way. We are here to help you learn how to cope with addiction in a loved one or support your own healing journey. Call us to find out how we can partner with you: 866-457-3843.