Men's Health Week: Tips on men and grief

June 2020

To mark Men’s Health Week, WAY member Seth Williams encourages widowed men to reach out for support and to talk with others who “get it”…

Well, with all the stress of society today and social media interaction, do bereaved men need help when it comes to mental health awareness?

Absolutely yes. With brass knobs on and spinning flashing lights and sirens blaring!

Why, just why, are men so stubborn when it comes to asking for help?

Suffering in silence while going under.

Watching others help others and not asking for help themselves, saying ‘yeah, it’s all good.’ Then closing the door on the outside world and crumbling against the door with the weight of the world on their shoulders – barricading themselves against opening the door again.

Thinking it will just pass the silly phase of crying into the dark and screaming without noise for fear of someone actually hearing how they truly feel.

Battling on with the enormity of daily life struggles exactly the same as everyone else but not coping or dealing with it on any level and feeling like a failure.

Not able to communicate how they feel in words properly for fear of being seen as weak or unworthy on some level.

Not worthy of the MAN club in some way – like a secret membership card would be revoked and they would be cast aside into the abyss.

Well it is NOT that way at all. It is just perceived that way by so many men it’s scary.

Even through the peer support network WAY Widowed and Young, with all the help and advice available, it’s still a minority of men who take full advantage of what the charity has to offer.

It is amazing to talk.......I mean just TALK. Not even about what is frustrating you or making you feel like you’re going crazy, what is making you feel a failure or not worthy of your ‘man card’.

You have to start. To open a dialogue. To build a trust, a relationship of some meaning to be able to talk about how you feel.

With this in mind, WAY has a dedicated group just for the men so they can feel no pressure, no judgement and no backlash.

The group is in its infancy as far as Facebook groups go and is tentative. There’s the odd joke, the odd serious question from time to time and a few singular line replies and sometimes a more thought out response if it resonates with someone on a personal level.

It is growing in its membership and in its confidence – and along with the members’ confidence, the group will grow bigger and better.

Zoom chats are a fantastic modern communication tool that we have started using within the Man Cave with some success.

It’s a fantastic opportunity to mix socially with others without feeling pressured and an impressive way of getting to know others in a widow man’s world without worrying about needing to be vulnerable and listened to and not being made to feel like you are going crazy.

There’s an open invitation to WAY members to start joining the WAY Man Cave and open up discussion. And there’s an open invitation to any man who’s been widowed in the UK under the age of 50 to join WAY Widowed and Young, regardless of your marital status or sexual orientation.

You may just find that shoulder that gives you an extra boost when you thought everything was worthless.

You may just find the small interaction with people who understand what you’re going through is enough to stop you going under or feeling alone within these challenging times.

Please do consider reaching out for support. It could be the one thing you do that feels scary but actually isn’t and you will soon learn you are not alone or wrong and any less of a man for feeling ANY emotion or feeling down, wrong, desperate or unworthy of needing help, advice or just a chat about the weather.

Get involved. Help others and you may find that may in turn may help you.

We will be sharing more tips each day throughout Men's Health Week, including a takeover of footballing legend Neville Southall's Twitter feed on Thursday, 18 June from 7-9pm. Please do join us @NevilleSouthall and follow our social media platforms @WidowedandYoung this week.

Sakima's story

"The reality is that grief is the loneliest darkest place imaginable and reaching out is one of the hardest things to do... Talking has helped me survive. WAY has been a constant rock of support for me over the past 18 months."

WAY member Sakima, 28, shares how he coped after losing his partner Kinga to a traffic accident in 2018 in the video below...

Norman's story