Agency offers men’s support group

It’s no secret men grieve differently than women and that’s why Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County is offering an eight-week bereavement support group for men after the death of a loved one.

The group will meet Saturdays from noon until 1:30, Oct. 14 through Dec. 2, in the agency’s office at I-Park, 761 Main Avenue on the Norwalk/Wilton town line.

The ways in which men and women differ in their emotional responses is very much relevant to the way they process grief, according to Bonnie  Verses, a bereavement counselor with the nursing agency.

“It’s easier to get women to address pain and process their emotions,” Verses told The Bulletin. “With men it’s different. They respond differently.

“The thought is if they are brought together, that will make a difference.”

Men have been conditioned by society to keep their feelings hidden. “This is particularly obvious in experiencing a loss,” she said. For many, though, it helps to talk with other men, and the hope, Verses said, is to help them feel comfortable knowing those in the group will be in a similar position.

“For many men it helps to talk to other men,” she said. “It really helps to make them see there’s a common goal between them they can identify with.”

Denial, confusion, anxiety, pain, rage, sadness, and bitterness are all aspects of grief that will manifest in both men and women, but in different ways.

“Grief is a long journey,” Verses said. “In most cases it can be years. It can be painful. It is in many cases a change in your life that’s significant. You have to face that significant change. Men tend to avoid it. They’re silent about it. Sometimes there’s anger, but it’s all related to how they are feeling inside.”

Those at the agency felt this would be an opportune time to offer the support group since it will be right around the winter holidays, a time that can be particularly difficult for someone who has suffered a loss. If there is enough interest, Verses said, there could be more than one group, differentiated by age, type of loss or some other factor.

The support group is free and open to the public but  pre-registration is required. Call 203-834-6341, ext. 255.