Saturday, June 14, 2014

Why Men & Couples Coping With Prostate Cancer Grieve Alone

Grief is a multifaceted emotional response to loss,  Grief involves unwelcome and painful  feelings which may include: sorrow, misery, sadness, anguish, pain, distress, heartache, heartbreak, agony, torment, affliction, suffering, woe, desolation, dejection, or despair. 

Here's what typically happens when someone takes a risk to share their grief with other people. Unfortunately, this is a conversation taken from a thread  in an on-line prostate cancer support forum, where it's reasonable to expect your grief would be shared and understood. His grief wasn't understood and the advice he received was awful and unhealthy.

Man with cancer:
I have been thinking about mourning my loss of life as I knew it.

Responder#1
To not keep moving forward with excitement is to resign yourself to a rocking chair, and old memories.
Here's your "positive thinker" who says the way to get over grief is to think positively. This person has no tolerance to hear the sadness of others. Their solution to sadness involves thinking happy thoughts.


Responder#2
I have no doubt you "miss" your old self, some of us do. However "grieving" is not a term I would agree goes with your situation. 


Responder#2  (like most men),is disconnected with his emotional life. His experience of his life is filtered through his intellect. Men such as maybe gifted intellectually, but  they are totally disconnected from their emotional life. Their highest value is placed on rational thinking. These men are often highly intelligent,  successful in their job, make lots of money, and be a leader in their field,  yet they possess the emotional intelligence of a cow.They will discuss the philosophy of feelings but do not know how to deal with their own feelings or the feelings of others.

Here's what men and couples need to know: Grief is an emotionally HEALTHY response to loss. 

The God of this universe tells there are times in life we need to grieve:
Eccl 3:1
To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:............ 
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,

The God of this universe also tells us how to respond when we encounter someone who is grieving.

Rom 12:15
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

When someone is weeping or feeling profound sadness in response to loss, our job isn't to make them feel better or to tell them there's nothing to feel sad about. We are called to share in their grief- to weep with those who are weeping.

Sadly very few people have the emotional intelligence or willingness to share in the grief of others, so those who grieve often grieve alone. The next time you find yourself in a discussion with someone who is grieving, grieve with them rather than try to make them (our yourself) feel better.


There are many losses a man and/or couple experience after receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer.
More often than not whatever method of aggressive treatment that is chosen also brings on additional losses that need to be grieved. 

Unfortunately, most people want to say something "helpful" to take way your pain. That's not what people who are grieving need or want. They want some to listen. There will come a time in your life when someone you know will share their their grief  with you. 

Resist the temptation to give advice or say something to make you or the person grieving feel better.
The greatest gift you could give to someone who is grieving is your silence and your time. Listen to their pain without interrupting. Then you can say something to let them know you understand. Statements like:
"I'm sorry to hear you're in so much pain" or I'm sorry your going through this, or getting over the losses you've experienced will take time and I'll be here for you now and in the future.

If you or your partner need to grieve issues like the loss of good health, of expectations of the future, or how surgery or another forum of treatment has resulted in both temporary and/or permanent losses, my wife and I wrote a book where we share our experiences with grief in order to help other couples do the same. No one should grieve alone. Our book will help you and or couples process their grief.

The title of our awarding winning book is- I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours? Coping With The Emotional, Relational, Sexual & Spiritual Aspects of Prostate Cancer.

 If you care to share comments that helped or hurt you process your grief regarding prostate cancer visit our Facebook page at:I  Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Facebook or leave a comment here.
.