Separating Men and Women in Grief

Excerpted from Swallowed by a Snake

Tom Golden LCSW

Another form of marking the griever is the separation of men and women in the grief rituals. By separating the grievers these cultures are honoring the differences in grieving between men and women and setting up different containers for healing. An example is the Bara people of southern Madagascar who designate two huts when a death occurs. One hut is the Tranadahy, which means "male house;" the other is the Trano Be Ranomaso, which means the "house of many tears." During the period of time after the death these huts are used for congregating and receiving condolences. The men's hut is the center of activity regarding the death. The men plan and initiate the rituals, receive condolences from the male guests, and take responsibility for the body. The women's hut is more the center of emotional expression, with the women keening, wailing, and crying as they receive condolences from the female guests. These people literally have different places for men and women to be following a death. In this way, men and women are among their own sex and are in a position to be healed by their same-sex community members. It also honors the difference in grieving styles between men and women by allowing the opportunity for each to be near those who grieve as they do.

Excerpted from Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing page 117.
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