“Funerals for Males 101″

These comments were from Archy and PursuitAce on the post “Five Important Things Women Don’t Know About Men
From Archy:

…Does society teach men how to handle their emotions? I feel shame when I cry EVEN AT A FUNERAL and try to hide it, last funeral I went to I noticed the men who cried were doing everything they could to hide it or stop it. Watching that internal battle of control for your emotions and trying to bury them is difficult, you feel like you can’t tell others because it’s not the manly thing to do and it feels WRONG…

From PursuitAce, in reply to Archy:

Funerals for Males 101.
  1. Cry before the funeral.
 2. During the funeral you completely focus on the care and nurturing of anyone else who might need your support.
  2a. Better yet make yourself integral to the planning, function, or operation of the funeral. (My military side is coming out here.)
 3. Cry after the funeral.  
4. Any questions?

Photo: markhillary / flickr

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Comments

  1. That sounds about right.

    Even in a time where crying is a fully acceptable way to express emotion, for women and children.

    No we are expected to not just set those feelings aside for everyone else supposedly. No we just are not supposed to have them in the first place because we are men.

    Would certain explain how with the 10 year anniversary of my mom’s death coming up next month I have still yet to shed a single tear over it.

    But just to make sure the pendulum doesn’t swing to far. I don’t want to give the impression that not feeling or expressing pain at time like this is a sign that something is wrong with a man. No what is wrong is that men are taught that something is wrong with them if they do feel or express pain. It’s entirely possible for a man to simply not feel anything or not have a need to express in ways such as crying.

    I just want to make sure that when a man doesn’t feel anything or does not express in an overt way like crying it’s because that is the way that HE feels, not because he is sitting there feeling those feelings but can’t express them because he has been taught that to do so makes him less of a man.

  2. Archy, we do a poor job of teaching men about emotions, period. Men are taught to ‘handle’ their emotions instead of being taught to ‘validate’ their emotions. Men need their feelings validated too. Unfortunately many men wind up burying their emotions and pretending everything is fine.

    PursuitAce, I saw too many military funerals myself and I noticed the same behavior: men would hide their tears in public and grieve later. However as a female at these funerals, I could naturally show my tears and grief publicly. I noticed my public grief allowed men the opportunity to comfort and reassure me or stay busy with the ‘operations’ of the funeral. But afterwards hundreds of men I barely even knew, would come to me one-on-one for their opportunity to grieve, cry, and be comforted…but more privately and intimately.

    Men have feelings, but that fact is often marginalized. The key is to find someone who is not going to judge or pity men for having feelings or emotions…hopefully our spouse, family, or friends help us FEEL better.

  3. Ah, funerals … where they are concerned, I’ve learned to ‘Expect nothing; anticipate anything.’ The great men in my life … When they cry, I melt. There is real beauty in a man who allows himself to soften into tears. Many men I’ve known, however, tend to clench themselves into ramrods at times of heightened emotion … and a few women I know, including myself, do it too. Old, old habit. ~ I was once married to a man who cried over the smallest, sweetest things … I cherished that about him.

  4. John Schtoll says:

    I have often wonderd if perhaps men not showing their emotions comes from a time when men were the ones paying the price of a free and just society. They were the ones expected to GRIN AND BEAR it when faced with almost certain death at your job or in a war.

    I can’t help but think , where would we be if men back 200 or so years ago had said “Screw this, I am making way more than I need for myself and I have to give some of it to someone else, well nuts to that, I am going to keep everything I make for me”.

    Right now, in our society men are still expected to do the dirty, dangerous and disgusting jobs, because who else is going to do them, WOMEN< sorry but NO they aren't. Not en masse anyway.

    I read the other day that women are now allowed in all combat units, so I can assume that NOW and other feminists orgs will start compaigning for selective service to include all women as well. I will be holding my breath till that happens, hopefully it won't be too long

  5. I wouldn’t say “buck up” but I would agree that it’s something that we learned from other men. I was an alter boy and served at a lot of funeral masses and my recollection is that men generally were the pillars of strength helping others who were grieving. Having buried my mom, dad, 4 brothers and a sister, I have experienced the inability to grieve in the open. Alone, behind closed doors is another story. Last year though, when I had to give the eulogy for one of my brothers, I struggled with my composure. I agree with the being an integral part of the planning … it always helped me deal with planning rather then the grief. Great response guys!

  6. The thing about it all is…I think women crying in public really show strength, strength to allow your vulnerability shown and I am jealous a bit of that ability. Hiding emotions like men often do is toxic, just bottle it up and one day let it explode? No thanks…

  7. Tom, I’m sorry about your losses, that’s a lot to bear. I know in my heart men and women are much more different then our gender-blender suggests. Grief and emotions are where I see the major differences. Generally speaking, men wear their emotions ‘on the inside’ and women wear them ‘on the outside.’ If that makes sense.

    We buried both parents and my grieving was vastly different than my brother’s. His behavior was very planful, pragmatic, and reassuring during the dying process of our parents. But his tears were very private and behind closed doors. All I could do for him, was just be available for him emotionally.

    I have dear friend who revealed that he cries in the shower. Another friend said he has always struggled with crying, tears do not come naturally for him. Tears and emotions are not sign of strength or weakness, they’re just human.

  8. Gary Mundy says:

    Cry. Dammit, Cry. Who cares what you think that others will think of you.
    Yet I feel a deep sense of shame whenever I cry, even in private. I’m at a place in my life that it feels like there isn’t much left to lose and yet what is important?
    The words of my dead father from back when my mother left us in 1966. “Men don’t cry, no matter what”.
    But now I can’t stop it any more. So in the eyes of my father I am not a man.
    It makes me ashamed to recall the times years ago I’d said to my son “Be a man, stop that crying”.
    I think, I hope that I haven’t perpetuated the myth. My son has told me that all is good but then what did I tell my father before he passed. All is good.

    • Gary—I’ve heard that same mantra “men don’t cry.” Later in life I heard the opposite that “a strong man can cry and know that it doesn’t make him less of a man.” That’s something I believe, because tears are a great emotional release, whether it’s tears of sadness, pain, or tears of joy. Tears: just a good old fashioned emotional release.

      As far as your son, I’m sure all IS good. The mere fact that you question your instruction means you’ve been raising him right the whole time. Decent parents always second guess themselves. It the parents who don’t question themselves, those are the ones we need to worry about.

    • Gary, I appreciate the thought. I’m okay with not crying or should I say, crying in the open. When my daughter was born, she was the light of my life, my little “punkin.” I dreaded the day she would get married. And when she did get married, I managed to make it through the ceremony, giving her hand in marriage, walking her down the isle but then came the reception.

      When she was small, she would fall asleep in my arms watching Mary Poppins. When I was home, it was a routine. By the time the movie got to the song “Feed the Birds” she would be asleep in my arms. At the reception it was time for the father daughter dance. She came over to me and took my hand as I followed her to the dance floor. With all eyes on us, the music began. It was “Feed the Bird.” She laid her head on my shoulder and said, “I remember daddy … thank you.” I LOST IT! With over 200 guests looking at me, I didn’t care. I held her very tight and cried on her shoulder. I remember the photographer making a comment on how beautiful it was.

      A little over three years ago on Fathers day, My daughter gave me a card to “Grandpa” …. Yeah, I broke down.

      Why did I mention these? Because even though some of us men resist crying in front of others and are okay with it, there are times that it’s really okay.

  9. “Grief and emotions are where I see the major differences. Generally speaking, men wear their emotions ‘on the inside’ and women wear them ‘on the outside.’ If that makes sense.”

    Sorry, Joan, but that’s learned behaviour, not something you’re born with depending on which private parts you have. I’m surrounded by children every day and it takes awhile before cultural conditioning has its way. Ever been around male/female toddlers? Children? They express the same range of emotions in the same ways, with inevitable variation in temperament and depending on how their parents express themselves. It takes time, and negative reinforcement and sometimes even punishment before boys and men are trained to be that way.
    I agree with you that tears and displays of emotion are not signs of weakness. However, passing on stereotypes like “men stuff it in, women let it out”, while seemingly harmless, only serve to reinforce the notion that it’s not manly to cry.

    • K says–I totally agree much of it is learned behavior and it varies from family to family, but some of it may not be learned behavior. It’s the nature vs. nurture argument. I’m not leaning on one side or the other; nor am I’m suggesting that we should completely rule out nature over nurture, or vice versa.

      In the last 20-30 years we’ve androgynized our population and we’ve tried to socialize males and females to be the same. At this point in our gender-blender, it’s difficult to generalize or assume that both sexes are the same, because we start noticing differences after the pre-sexual ages. Even adult and early childhood studies with 3-6 year olds from as recent as 2010-2012 are suggesting sex differences in behaviors.

      I do not want to derail this topic on funerals to a feminist discussion, so I will leave it with peace.
      I think we both respectfully agree, boys and men have feelings, and their feelings tend to get marginalized, for many reasons.

    • K, I agree much of it is learned behavior and it varies from family to family, but some of it may not be learned behavior. It’s the nature vs. nurture argument. I’m not leaning on one side or the other; nor am I’m suggesting that we should completely rule out nature over nurture, or vice versa.

      In the last 20-30 years we’ve androgynized our population and we’ve tried to socialize males and females to be the same. At this point in our gender-blender, it’s difficult to generalize or assume that both sexes are the same. Even adult and early childhood studies from as recent as 2010-2012 suggest sex differences in behaviors.

      I’m not going to derail this topic on funerals and emotions to a feminist discussion, so I will leave it with peace.

  10. paul kidwell says:

    I have no problem with men not showing their emotions by crying; wheter in public or private. Their loss. Please do not; however, equate crying with weakness. Just the opposite, in fact. A man who can give into the emotional freefall that may elicit tears is nothing short of Bunyan-esque. I cry when I am happy and when I am sad; and at the risk of being a bit boastful, am one of the strongest men I know. Or maybe you’d like to take this outside. (just kidding)

  11. wellokaythen says:

    There are many ways of expressing grief. Shedding tears and crying are perhaps the most obvious ways, but they aren’t the only ways. Don’t assume that just because a man isn’t crying therefore he’s suppressing his grief or he’s just not letting himself cry. There are plenty of women out there who very rarely cry, even at times of great sadness, and they still express grief in their own ways. Sally Field in _Steel Magnolias_ is all grim determination in the face of tragedy, and no one thinks of her character as repressed.

    Furthermore, a formal funeral isn’t the only opportunity one has to express grief over someone’s death. Just because you don’t cry at a funeral doesn’t mean you never cry. Let’s not go to the other extreme and prescribe some conformist rules about when you’re supposed to cry and how you’re supposed to grieve.

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