Male vs female ways of grieving

September 2nd, 2011 by Pelle Billing

Blog reader Allan recommended this video to me, and since I found it valuable I’m recommending it too.

The video quality is not great but the sound is quite clear. The speaker is Tom Golden, an expert on male grief and gender differences.

Some of the topics are:

  • How men usually grieve through activity and not through talking or crying.
  • How traditional psychotherapy is modeled on women.
  • Fight or flight vs tend and befriend.
  • How sex hormones testosterone and estrogen regulate the effects of oxytocin and prolactin.
  • How school is not adapted to boys.

If you’re interested in more of the teachings of Tom Golden he’s written a book called Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing.

8 Responses to “Male vs female ways of grieving”

  1. David Marshall Says:

    Pelle, how much do you think the way men grieve is culturally created? It differs from culture to culture, doesn’t it? We have always been told that French men cry more often than American men, don’t know if it’s true.

    Has school always not been adapted to boys, or is this something new? Wasn’t there a time when boys did well in school?

  2. Pelle Billing Says:

    Regarding schools, at least in Sweden there was more competition, more discipline and more actual teaching being done in the past. This likely benefited boys, even though they still had to sit still all the time which wasn’t optimal for them.

    Regarding crying, I don’t know. My guess is that even though there is a biological component which make women more likely to cry more in all cultures, the cultural component can means that there are differences between men of different cultures.

  3. Allan Says:

    I’m having trouble getting through the book because my gf and other friends are all reading and borrowing the book on me! But I’ll get there. They like it.

    Tom (the author) talks a lot about different cultures, and yes, it’s highly cultural but with patterns. Yes, Pelle, there is talk of hormones (prolactin? idk) that falls with testosterone that makes tearing easier. So, yes, I think as is usually the case, there are biological differences that then get a cultural reflection (in all sorts of cultural ways. Or not too.). But the form of crying and relating to another is the emotive pair-bond root that women tend toward. (That 1 to 1 therapy is mirroring too). Men tend to find activities to grieve. They build the coffin, sing songs (in some African cultures), dig the grave, … I’ve done this a number of times, building erns for ashes of my partner’s father, and a very dear dog. It was very helpful to me. I don’t like to cry in front of anyone.

  4. Pelle Billing Says:


    Do you recommend the book? Is it worth buying?

  5. Allan Says:

    I’m only a third through but this is a very powerful book. So,

    yes, it’s worth buying!

    It’s helpful to read a chapter and allow it to sink in before reading the next chapter.

    It looks like there’s an active forum on the author’s site. I’d like to hear what other men and women have to say about all this in time.

  6. Rick Belden Says:

    I don’t have a thorough familiarity with Tom’s work, but I like a lot of what I’ve seen and I think he’s on to something. I have a couple of other examples from his work on my blog at for anyone who is interested.

  7. Pelle Billing Says:

    Great link Rick, thanks.

  8. الساحل الذهبي Says:

    الساحل الذهبي…

    استمتع بعروض السياحة والسفر المقدمة من الساحل الذهبي الساحل الذهبي لتنظيم الرحلات السياحيةالاول عربيا في حجوزات الفنادق وتنظيم الرحلات …