Memorial Keepsake Jewelry for Men
by J. Malec
A titanium cremation bracelet with a very masculine look.
In researching keepsake jewelry for men who are grieving in particular, I began by researching how people express themselves during the grieving process. Available information presents conflicting views on whether or not men and women grieve differently.
Do Men Grieve Differently than Women?
On cursory examination of our own experiences, most of us may conclude that yes, men do manifest their grief in ways dissimilar to their female counterparts. They may tend to be more stoic, and tend towards outward expressions of anger over sorrow. They may also spend a lot of time alone or try to be the ‘rock’ on which others can depend for stability and support.
However, some experts prefer to note that grieving is too complex a process to characterize by gender. They proffer that there are as many ways of expressing grief as there are individuals. The gifted writer Elizabeth Harper Neeld, Ph.D. is author of "Do Men Grieve Differently from Women," on Legacy.com. She starts her analysis on the subject by prefacing:
Before we talk about whether or not men grieve differently from women, let’s note this truth… No two people—no matter their gender—grieve alike. There is no right way to grieve. Someone once said that we grieve as we live. If someone is a reserved stoic in life in general, that person is likely to grieve as a reserved stoic. If someone else finds it easy to express emotion in life, then that person will be more likely to show grief by expressing emotion. What is important is that grief be expressed. What is not important is the specific manner in which that expression occurs.
In this same vein of thought, Dave Pierce, a decades-long grief counsellor, asserts in his article on Grief Toolbox that instead of imposing our own expectations on what grief should look like, we might consider another way. He states:
If you have a family member or friend who is in grief, and not acting the way you think he or she should, ask yourself: Why do I have an agenda for this person? Do I really know best about how someone should grieve? Even if it is my own husband or wife? Does my society even know? Is there another way I can support this person rather than by pushing my own views?
Wearing Emotions ‘On Our Sleeves’
It is undeniable that cultural pressures often dictate how we should behave when grief-stricken. Whether this is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ is beside the point. More importantly, it’s insightful to recognize underlying influences that propel grief – whether in a male or female. Powerful psychological and emotional forces are at work when we experience loss.
In a publication of Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro, Lou Wallace, M. DIV., D. MIN., summarizes a few of the characteristics of male grieving. In his publication “Do Men Grieve Differently,” he notes the following cultural expectations of men:
- Taking charge, problem solving
- Being “strong”, supporting others
- Less expression of feelings, more concerned with thinking than feeling
- Independent, self-contained
- Striving, moving, activity
- Seeing death/grief as a challenge to be overcome, a test of masculinity
Wallace further states that: “Because ‘being a man’ means avoiding his feelings and moving into thinking and activity, he is set up to move away from his grief instead of moving toward it. He is unable to do the work of mourning his loss.”
Cremation jewelry as an expression of love and loss
There are ways to counter the tendency to ‘move away from grief.’ To move toward an expression of grieving, consider wearing a piece of cremation jewelry that holds ashes. For some, keeping a loved one close in the form of memorial jewelry for ashes helps. The jewelry becomes an avenue to connection, despite the distance that death brings.
Titanium, gold, stainless steel and silver cremation jewelry are popular to wear as bracelets and pendants. There are many striking and bold designs, such as the titanium cremation bracelet, shown at the top of this article, or the large stainless steel ash pendant.
These objects perform an important function as a touchstone of reflection. They become a constant reminder that no one disappears entirely. Your loved one is still with you at all times.
J. Malec is a visual artist and writer whose work often deals with themes related to loss and healing. She lives in Minneapolis, and spends much of her time practicing permaculture in the city.