Guerilla Grief

Excerpted from Swallowed by a Snake

Tom Golden LCSW


Our culture is not a safe place to grieve. With the massive denial of death that occurs, there is a resulting disdain for grief. Both men and women are forced into a situation where their grief is not honored by the culture or the people around them. With our complete lack of grief rituals we have to practice what I call guerrilla grief. That is, grieving like a group might practice guerrilla warfare, outnumbered by the opposition, shooting from behind rocks, using hit and run tactics, and only coming out at night. One might say that the rocks are a little bit bigger for the women than they are for the men.

Excerpted from Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing page 105.
Tom Golden LCSW

Our Culture

I sometimes think that if our culture could be pictured as a human body, the resulting image would have a giant mouth and hands and a tiny colon. We purchase and consume tremendous amounts of material goods. It is odd that with this tremendous desire and gratification our culture is one of the weakest when it comes to grief. It seems that we are lopsided; our mouth and hands far outweigh our colon. The shadow side of our consumer culture is that we don't know what to do with our psychological "waste," i.e., our grief. One would expect a great deal of grief from all of this desire, but our culture doesn't honor it. Where does all that grief go? It goes underground and into our collective shadow. Just as an individual has a shadow side of things that are not conscious, our culture also has a shadow side, a part of which is grief. This can be seen by the names we call people when we don't like them, names like asshole or shithead. Many of the insults that we toss at those we don't like are related to waste and the end of our digestive tract. In my mind this parallels our cultural situation with grief.

Excerpted from Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing pages 106-107.
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