This episode was recorded at The Universal Man – Being Great Men weekend.
All 12 participants were involved in recording and the stars of the episode are:  Oliver Wightman, Bruce McGregor Brendan Hawes, David Graham, Luke Baker, Jimmy Purcell, Simon McDonald, James Kasch, Bruce Taylor, Liam McGuire, Greg Layton and Damien Price.
What is Grief?
Grief, at its simplest is the reaction to a loss, and in the face of that loss, adjusting to a new reality. It’s the absence of something in our life and how our life changes because of that loss. And it takes many, many forms. It could be, like I’m actually getting really old, so it’s the lost of my youth, it can be the loss of a particular relationship, it could be the loss of a particular dream. Loss takes a million forms. And that doesn’t make anyone of them, is any less, or more, important.
And there’s a beautiful piece in the poem “Desiderata”, which talks about, “Take kindly the council of youth, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit, to shield you in sudden misfortune.”
It’s important to acknowledge that grief isn’t something you can plan for. And it’s two o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon, or it’s the midnight phone call. It can be sprung on you … The time is not a think that grief controls. It just happens. And it is an internal process. But it’s not always visible from the outside on others. So, whilst people may be able to put on a steely exterior, they’re still grieving on the inside, as it is an internal process.

Sometimes we associate grief with a sense of weakness, or a sense of vulnerability, but as you experience grief, you sort of understand, it’s a natural thing. It’s something you can’t really avoid.

And everybody goes through grief in some way after a loss. Be it a loss of health, it could be a loss of a relationship, it could be a loss of a job, or a loss of friend. Everyone goes through some sort of grief after that loss. And it’s a totally normal thing to happen.
We cover:
1. What is grief
2. When do we get it wrong
3. Some steps to follow to help
4. How it relates in the context of Universal Man
FULL TRANSCRIPT:

Universal Man – Episode 24. Grief

Alright, everyone. Welcome to the debut Collective Universal Man podcast.
Today we’re gonna be going a little bit as a group. Getting some collective thoughts on the concept of grief. Grief, and how we deal with it ourselves, as men. But also as how we see it, and walk that journey through the grief of other people in our lives.

And, what is grief?

Grief, I guess, at its simplest is the reaction to a loss, and in the face of that loss, adjusting to a new reality. It’s the absence of something in our life and how our life changes because of that loss.

And you know loss is gonna take many, many forms. It could be, like I’m actually getting really old, so it’s the lost of my youth, it can be the loss of a particular relationship, it could be the loss of a particular dream. Loss takes a million forms. And that doesn’t make anyone of them, is any less, or more, important.

But it is not, Pricey, the loss of hair, with age. It’s not something like that.

And there’s a beautiful piece of desiderata, which talks about, “Take kindly the council of youth, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit, to shield you in sudden misfortune.”

And I think it’s important to acknowledge that grief isn’t something you can plan for. And it’s two o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon, or it’s the midnight phone call. It can be sprung on you … The time is not a think that grief controls. It just happens.

And grief is an internal process. And we’ll talk a bit more about that later on. But it’s not always visible from the outside on others. So, whilst people may be able to put on a steely exterior, they’re still grieving on the inside, as it is an internal process.

Sometimes we associate grief with a sense of weakness, or a sense of vulnerability, but I think an important thing … As you experience grief, you sort of understand, it’s a natural thing. It’s something you can’t really avoid.
And everybody goes through grief in some way after a loss. Be it a loss of health, it could be a loss of a relationship, it could be a loss of a job, or a loss of friend. Everyone goes through some sort of grief after that loss. And it’s a totally normal thing to happen.

And I think that’s such a real important point. I’ve been thinking recently that grief is all about a personal situation, but grief can be professional as well. So there’s a significant impact, or disruption, in your professional life, whatever that is. It’s a different type of grief, but I think it’s another form that’s sometimes just as important as when we’re trying to understand what grief is.
It’s many factors. It’s personal and professional.

 

And I think it’s important, because you can be grieving, and you may not even be aware of it, others may not be aware that you’re grieving, and as you’re going through that, to try and understand what it means to you, the impact, the impact on your life, the impact on others. And I think as you do that, for me, at some point in time, you can get a chance to try and understand the lesson in it.

What’s the thing of the pain, that you’ve gone through, that you can then look back and understand, and learn from? And that might take years. There’s no timeframe on that. But I think, when you do get a chance to come back and reflect on it, and learn from it, I think there’s some incredibly amazing important insights in that.

And why else would you say it’s important?

I guess there are many moments of grief through life, so be that big or small, it’s important to, in some ways, prepare ourselves for the inevitability of grief in our lives. Because whether it be now, whether it be later … Some of us go through it really early in life. It could be really formative to the way we see the world, but for others it may come later.

But the one certainty is that, in our life, there will always be moments of grief.

So realising that it is an important part of our journey as men, we’re gonna go through now a couple of tips, and processes, that we, together as a group, have come up with.

And the first is, if an event has happened, be aware every person involved is grieving. So, touched on it before, it’s an internal process that might not always be visible, but regardless of who you are, regardless of your background, regardless of your standing, if you’re tied to that event, then you are grieving in some capacity.

And some people might be more outward with it, some people might be more sheltered with theirs. But we have to understand that, if an event has happened, we have to be aware that everyone involved is grieving.

And I think that’s a really important point, too, because sometimes I think it’s natural to look at a couple of key people in certain situations, and maybe forget about yourself, maybe forget that you are also grieving in some ways. And that everyone does grieve differently, and impacts of different events impact everyone differently.

So I think it’s very important to make sure you acknowledge where you’re currently at, and your current feelings. And what you’re feeling in the moment, and acknowledge that.

And we all know that feelings are neither right, nor are feelings actually wrong. Feelings are just the way you are in that particular space.

A member of my own family, in the last month or so, was diagnosed, that person’s got a cancer. So when you say, everyone agrees, the person who’s been diagnosed, they’re really grieving badly, but the other family members, the particular person’s son, my own self, the whole family, we found, in all different ways, and all different levels, we’re caught up within that.

Just to reiterate what Pricey said there, for me, and I think most of us would agree that grief doesn’t have a set timeframe. And it is different for everybody.

I’ve got a mate who lost his wife many years ago. And I remember sitting around the table at the pub, and having a chat with him about the loss of his wife. And one of our mates piped up and said, “It’s about time, mate. You’ve gotta just put yourself back out there. Just get back on the horse. You’ll be alright.”

And my mate just looked up with a rye smile, and said to him, “Yep. My group said that some of my mates might say that.” And then we all had a laugh.

And he said, “Oh no. I can’t believe I’m that bloke who has said that to you.”

It was a reminder for me that you can’t rush these things. Everybody needs to take the time that they need to grieve, and go through each of those steps in the process. And there is not right time, there is no wrong time. And just be aware of the external pressures, and expectations on you to either grieve, or to get over grief, and be done with it. Your story is your story, and you need to value and recognise that.

I think that one of the tips to move through the grieving process is to not assume that by acknowledging it to your friends, or your partner, or your spouse that you are going to upset them. If it’s coming up to a birthday, it’s always a nice idea to acknowledge that to your, say, spouse that, “Honey, I’m thinking of your mother today on her birthday.” Don’t be afraid to raise that, refer to, those who going through grief in these ahead because they will always appreciate that moving forward.

Yeah. I think it’s tough from where we’re coming from, from that, but to understand that we need to grieve at times. And it’s easy to just kind of push it aside, and ignore the situation, and how heavy it can really be in our lives.

And what we really need to do, as men in a community, is to really give ourselves that permission to grieve. To really understand the importance that it does have in our lives. How it may suck for the meantime, but how it can also allow us to grow. That kind of light at the end of the tunnel. And that time to allow us to reflect, on the thing that we’re grieving on, but also on ourselves, and why they are such an important part in our lives.

And we can see the values that’s carried on through that grieving. And it can allow ourselves to grow from that, but it all starts with giving yourself that permission, to acknowledging that, and going through that process as a whole.

The insight for me, is I didn’t realise at the time, that I was grieving, so the crisis, or the catastrophe, for me, there were words around embarrassment, shame, because that grief was brought on by what I thought was myself.
And so I didn’t understand grief, then, in the moment. I thought it was many other things. And it had elements of it. But I took a very dim, and dark, view of that period of time, as to what happened. And blame came through that. And, “Woe is me.” And, “What are people gonna think?”,  So it took time to then actually come back around and understand what was actually really happening, which wasn’t embarrassment, shame, blame, etc, it was grief.  I didn’t expect it. And when it happened, I didn’t understand it, until a period of time after that.

One of the ways that we can help move through the grieving process is to honour the memory and the spirit of those that we’ve lost, with the way that we live.

I recently lost a good mate of mine about three weeks ago, leaving two young kids. So, for me, it’s important to share with his children how much they were loved by their father, what they meant to him, to share fond memories that I had with their father, and be there for them during that process, and for the rest of their lives.

One thing that is really important in that, is that some people that are grieving don’t really know what they need at that time. It’s so raw, it’s so fresh, they can’t think about what they need. So it’s about being there for them during that time, and waiting, and listening to them, and being there for when they do need you, and helping them at that time.

The insight for me, is I didn’t realise at the time, that I was grieving, so the crisis, or the catastrophe, for me, there were words around embarrassment, shame, because that grief was brought on by what I thought was myself.
And so I didn’t understand grief, then, in the moment. I thought it was many other things. And it had elements of it. But I took a very dim, and dark, view of that period of time, as to what happened. And blame came through that. And, “Woe is me.” And, “What are people gonna think?”
So it took time to then actually come back around and understand what was actually really happening, which wasn’t embarrassment, shame, blame, etc, it was grief.
I didn’t expect it. And when it happened, I didn’t understand it, until a period of time after that.

We also spoke, as a group, around some of the pitfalls that come with grief. We also touched on the various stages, too. So we looked at shock, denial, bargaining, anger, acceptance, and resolution. And then as part of that, we identified some things that were a bit more specific for us, as a group.
And one of those was moving on too quickly. And another one was denying it, which I suppose go hand in hand.

And I sometimes think as men we do try and move on too quickly, because society says we need to. Quite often we feel we need to, because we’ve got family, we’ve got work. We’ve got other people who depend on us.

I think there’s also part of it, too, that there may be a group of mates that you don’t wanna let them down, and be sad around them, and not be the mate that you used to be. So if you’ve always been the funny guy of the group, you deny it, and you go back into that particular role, without truly going through the grief that you need to go through.

Doesn’t time just heal these things?

No. I think is what we spoke about. It’s a shame, but in many respects, it’s not necessarily. And we then spoke about, as a group, what it was like to be stuck, or what it was like to be sad. And there is a difference between, at times being sad, when the individual’s name is being mentioned, or there’s a situation that rekindles a memory of that particular person, or that situation.

And that’s okay.

Being stuck, though, is probably not the most positive position to be in, and the most positive head space. And if you’re still stuck, then there’s probably a few things that you need to work through. And I think a good example was, if an individual has passed away, you can be sad about that, and you’ve got rituals that acknowledge that. But if you haven’t, say, changed their rooms since they passed away, or you haven’t removed something that was theirs, since they passed away, the reality is that that may be a sign, or a symbol, that you are stuck.

As we talked about. Grief takes many forms. And one of the pitfalls can be, just assuming that because you can’t physically see someone crying, or in a certain state, that grief’s not there. It does impact people all differently, and that includes yourself. So just because you don’t necessarily have acknowledged that in yourself yet, doesn’t mean you’re not grieving. And doesn’t mean that you don’t need to take that time.

So it is important to not just take face value during these times as well.

And one of the final pitfalls we looked at, was creating unnecessary misery through the grieving process. And I’m sure all of us have a story about a time in our lives when we were grieving. And it might have been as part of a family, it might have been as part of friendship group, it might have been in a personal relationship.

I’m sure some of those stories are stories in which love shone through, and love found a way, but I’m sure for some of us, there are times when it fractured that relationship, or those relationships, those times, further.

So when, potentially, a family could grieve together, and maybe be drawn closer together, unnecessary misery was created. Of course misery will exist in the grieving process, but it is important not to get trapped in creating unnecessary misery, letting that stress take over, being overwhelmed by the situations, snapping at our friends or our family, and further fracturing the relationships we do have.

So within all of this, we’re moving from the old [inaudible 00:17:23] reality, from the way things were, we’re moving and we’re learning from the pain. We’re moving into something actually new. And that’s especially … Maybe that is part of it all.
As you move into something new, you’re setting yourself a new goal, a new thing you would like to be, and do so. The energy of the grief is going into a positive thing. You’re gonna grow from that pain. You’re gonna be a better, stronger man.

Bringing this to an end, about what is the universal man, and our pillars. And they should be a guideline for us, through this process. Know thyself. Grow thyself in brotherhood. Grieving takes a knowledge of self, and knowledge of the situation. There’s an opportunity for growth if you look at it closely. And god almighty, there’s an opportunity for brotherhood. Seeking it when you need it, and giving it when it’s needed, and being aware of it. Those three pillars ring very true for grief.

And when I think about the idea of grief, or the word grief, and I sit with that. The other words that spring to mind, are words like “catastrophe.” Words like “crisis.” And crisis is a really valuable idea, because the ancient Greek definition of crisis doesn’t relate to catastrophic change, it relates to a turning point, a period of choice, and the opportunity for renewal.
So in that moment of crisis, we do have a choice, and we have the opportunity to bring something new and different from that experience.

And that, men, if grief.

Stay Legendary