My practice is very much inclusive of the emotional and energetic aspect of illness and something I’ve noticed with the men I see, is the many ways grief manifests in their bodies. Women too, of course, but it feels different with the men. It’s much less acknowledged, less space held to explore the feelings, more uncharted territory and such an honor to support.
My greatest example of this is with an older gentleman I see who came to me with debilitating insomnia and anxiety. In the short term I really just wanted to get him sleeping, basically addressing his symptoms, so we could start looking at the deeper layers of what was going on. Keys to his story is insomnia started after a head injury that disabled him for a couple months (a grief in how this affected his quality of life) and that his insomnia worsened and came to a breaking point after his dog died (grief). The more we spoke another layer of his sadness around his grandchildren wanting to spent more time with their friends than coming to his house these days. This guy is salt-of-the-Earth, blue collar, hard-working, deep-sleeping (despite pots of coffee) his whole life and within months of some pretty significant losses, he had a major shift in his health. In addition to his insomnia, his atrial fibrillation and blood pressure were off. I’ve been treating him primarily for grief and fear and he is responding beautifully.
I’ve seen grief manifest as digestive issues, lung and heart problems and thyroid issues to name a few. In general, women tend to be better at supporting themselves and each other in grief and men, especially as they get older, often have fewer outlets to explore these feelings. The cultural norms around what it is to be a “man” has done no one any favors in this department. Somaticized grief can really be a part of so many health conditions and is such an important element to explore with men. To hold space for these conversations and allow them to be seen in their experience is a powerful step towards healing. Big love to all the men out there experiencing the full range of emotions that are a part of this beautiful and challenging human condition. - 10 hours ago