""The subject of death is taboo in our society. This situation contributes to the difficulties many have in accepting and coping with the death of a loved one, impeding the process of grief and bereavement. When people refer to death as “passing away”, “moving on”, or “going to a better place” they are disguising death through euphemistic language. Many people live by the myth that if death is not talked about; it will pass without the pain associated with the loss of a loved one. This only serves to prolong the grieving process, which can result in the stages of death not being resolved. How people mourn and grieve depends on many factors in their lives, including but not limited to the following: gender, beliefs about death, personality type, and perception of the loss.
Gender and Coping
The language of emotions is vulnerable to learning, but the physiology of feelings seems so firmly anchored that even gender differences have little impact. There is a growing body of evidence that the physiology of emotion is consistent across gender. We know that there is a distinct physiological profile for at least several emotions and that people may have these reactions whether or not they label them as feelings. People intuitively know that different emotions produce different physiological states. In the article Universality of Emotions (1992), it is stated that men are just as likely as women to respond physiologically and to say they feel an emotion. There are gender differences in more complex situations where women tend to talk more about feelings and to use more emotional expression. “We have to understand that when people are talking about their feelings, there is a great potential for miscommunication,” said Levenson. “People may willfully misrepresent their feelings or they may not know how they feel. They may not know how to describe the sensations going on in their bodies” (Universality of Emotions, 1992). Gender effects how a person copes with death. Women view death with more sadness, while men will view death with contentment.
In the article Gender Differences in Parental Coping Following Their Child’s Death (Cramer & Littlewood, 1991), Verbrugge states that men tend to prefer active styles of coping, while women tend to use more palliative, passive, comforting thoughts and emotionally expressive styles of coping. Men for example, tend to keep busy and take on additional workloads as a way of coping with their loss. They may also be more critical of social support, and have a hard time talking about the death. Men prefer problem-solving and tension-reducing ways of coping. If they are more likely to use a way of coping, which is perceived as potentially problematic, they may be less likely to be offered support and consequently feel avoided. Men’s goals are directed more toward autonomy and minimization of vulnerability. If having a private inner life lessens a sense of autonomy, men, who tend to perceive an emotional approach as indicating vulnerability, may use this approach less frequently and with less success. Young boys expect peers and parents to be less receptive to negative emotional displays, especially sadness, so they are more likely to endorse display rules favoring emotional containment.