According to the American Foundation for Suicide prevention (AFSP.org) men die by suicide 3.53 times more than women. I am sure there are many factors behind that but one prominent factor that I noticed while going through this grieving process is society's expectations of males concerning expression of emotion.
When those close to me found out Zuka had passed away they would express things to me like, "I am a man and I am supposed to be strong" or "I'm a man, I'm not supposed to cry." Those statements made me incredibly sad for them. Gender has no baring on emotions, every human being has emotions and has the same need to express them. It is heartbreaking to me to think that a man would not feel comfortable expressing grief, sadness, pain and depression because they grew up in a society that told them men don't cry.
Not only is it incredibly sad but it's also incredibly dangerous to put expectations on males to not express their emotions. 3.53 times more men die by suicide, that's a huge number. We need to start teaching our sons that it's okay to cry, it's okay to express emotion. We need to explain that there is no gender/sex when it comes to emotion, no one should have to act "stronger" than anyone else.
We as women, and other men as well need to be a safe place for men to express their feelings. When we hear statements like "I am a man, I am not supposed to......" we need to tell to them that it's completely okay to express their emotions and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
We need to check in with men in our lives as much as we do women, we need to check on the "strong" people, the "happy" people. We need to check in with people in general and offer to be a safe, confidential, non-judgmental place to talk, or at least know where to refer them to.
I want all the men in my life, and any males reading this to understand that your emotions are okay, expressing your emotions is normal and healthy. Everyone needs to cry sometimes, every needs to grieve in whatever way works for them and there is absolutely no shame in that!
Lots of love to you!