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How Does a Man Deal With Losing His Father?

by Scott Thompson

Grieving the loss of a parent is an experience you can't prepare for, because there's no way to predict how grief will affect you. To deal with the loss of your father, you'll need to open up to whatever happens. Grief can take you in unexpected directions, and the best way to adapt to the change is to accept it without judging it.

Disregard Expectations

When it comes to grief, other people can have a lot of expectations about how you should deal with your emotions. Some people will expect you to be stoic and unemotional no matter what, because that's a traditional masculine way of handling loss. Other people will expect you to open up and share your feelings even if that's not something you're comfortable with. Whether people expect you to be the strong and silent type or the sensitive modern man, it isn't up to them to decide how you should feel or how you should process it. Set aside the expectations of other people in your life and go through this process in your own way, whatever that means to you. There is no such thing as an incorrect way to grieve.

Expect Surprises

Some men believe they will be devastated when their father dies and are surprised to find themselves not reacting much when it actually happens. Some men think they won't react very strongly and then break down as soon as they get the news. Some don't react on the surface but start engaging in self-medicating or self-destructive behaviors such as drinking too much. Some men feel disconnected and unemotional for months but are suddenly struck by intense grief later. No matter how you think you'll react and no matter how you're reacting now, expect surprises. Try not to think ahead too much or make assumptions about how you will feel later on. Instead, just focus on how you feel right now. The more you can engage with and accept the emotions you're currently experiencing, the less likely you are to engage in potentially unhealthy coping behaviors.

Accept Your Sorrow

The sorrow you feel for the loss of your father can be anything from a warm glow of nostalgia for the great times you shared together to a raw emotional wound that makes it hard for you to even function. Whatever you're actually feeling and whatever form your sadness takes, you don't have to get over it or try to erase it from your mind. If you feel intense sadness and loss, that's how you feel. If you're mostly the same as you have always been but you suddenly miss him at random moments, that's how you feel. If you can accept that your feelings are appropriate to your own personality and your own relationship with your father, you can make room for those feelings in your life in a healthy way.

Honor Him With Honesty

Like a lot of men, you may have ambivalent feelings about your relationship with your father. Perhaps you don't agree with all of his parenting choices or behaviors even though you know he loved you. Just like everything else, the best way to handle this is by accepting the reality of your own feelings no matter how complicated or uncomfortable. If you and your father had some unfinished business, you can tell him the things you always wanted to say by writing him a letter or talking to his photo. You don't have to think he was perfect to miss him or to honor his memory.

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