Using Action to Heal Grief

Excerpted from Swallowed by a Snake

Tom Golden LCSW

Another example of how this works is a man whose high school-age son died in a car accident. In the first month or two after the death the man started to put together a book about his son. This was not a book that he intended to publish, but basically a book of memories. He did this by coordinating many of his son's friends and teachers in bringing this product about. Many hours were spent working together, gathering items that would become a part of the book, planning and talking about what should go into it. Teachers were involved in the process, and the young man's coaches, ministers, girlfriends, and ex-girlfriends. It was a community affair, and during this process this man spent a great deal of time talking with others about his son's life and listening to the stories others had to tell. This interaction was very similar to what might have happened had the man gone into a therapy group, but it was different in some significant aspects. All of his interactions were connected with a product--the book. He was the editor and producer of this product, and in this way he maintained his independence. His interactions with others relating to his son's death were connected to the production of this book, but they were no less healing than someone who chose to relate their grief to another person without the accompanying action. The man found healing for his grief through action that was harmonious with his need for independence and his orientation towards producing a product.

When looking at a man's grief from this perspective, it is easier to see why men tend to grieve in a private and quiet manner. They don't want to be a burden to others, they want to maintain their independence, and they want to use their strength of action in dealing with a very powerful force such as grief. Much has been written about the pathology of a man's tendency to grieve alone but when seen in this vein it can be understood as a personal choice the man makes rather than a step into pathology.

Excerpted from Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing pages 81-82.
Tom Golden LCSW

Tom Golden is a professional speaker, author, and psychotherapist whose area of specialization is healing from loss and trauma. You can find out more about Ton's private practice here. Tom gives workshops across the country and in Canada on many aspects of this topic. His workshops are known to be both entertaining and informative. Contact Tom at the addresses below (email or snail mail) for inquiries about speaking or training for your group. You can also order his book Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing on this site or through


Tom Golden LCSW
 P.O. Box 83658
Gaithersburg, Maryland 20883
301 670-1027