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Real Men Grieve

On July 12th, as part of the 2014 TCF National Conference in Chicago, a first-of-its-kind symposium will be held on the subject of men in grief. This special 3-hour program presented for-men-only will explore the challenges, issues and opportunities that many grieving men face.

The co-creators and presenters of Real Men Grieve have come together to open their hearts and share what is on their minds in an e ort to spark a national conversation and as an outreach to other men. When I was approached with the idea of helping to create this symposium within the Conference setting, I was excited at the opportunity for the men to have this unique opportunity to share a hope-filled and healing experience focused exclusively on them. I would like to introduce you to the men joining me in presenting Real Men Grieve.

Dr. Ken Druck, author, The Secrets Men Keep, has long been considered a pioneer in the Psychology of Men. In 1996, Ken’s life changed dramatically after the tragic death of his oldest daughter, Jenna. Ken put his career aside and founded The Jenna Druck Center to honor Jenna’s life and spirit. The Center’s award-winning Families Helping Families program has directly helped over bereaved 7000 families, including those who lost loved ones after 9-11, Columbine HS and Hurricane Katrina. Ken’s work in “grief literacy,” writings and innovative programs are sought by families, communities, national media outlets and organizations the world over. His latest book, The Real

Rules of Life, has been lauded as “One of the best books on healing after loss in the past 20 years” and is also published in China, Korea, the UK, Portugal, the Czech Republic and Australia.

Mitch Carmody has faced many losses in his life including his brother David, his sister Sandy, and the death of his son Kelly to cancer in 1987. Mitch is nationally recognized as an author and speaker on the subject of grief and hosts a monthly radio program in Hastings, Minnesota. Mitch travels extensively; his gentle spirit and wisdom have touched the lives of thousands of professionals caring for and individuals going through grief.

Kris Munsch spent a lifetime building things but was faced with his ultimate renovation project in December of 2005 when his son Blake was killed in a car accident just outside of Hays, Kansas. Kris is the creator of The Birdhouse Project, a reflective, tangible tool of self-discovery that can be used to identify the areas of life, grief or crisis that are not working for you. Kris who loves to refurbish houses and rebuild lives is also an Assistant Professor of Construction Management at Fort Hays State University.

Glen Lord is Noah’s dad and is currently serving on the National Board of Directors for The Compassionate Friends. Glen is one of the producers and creators of the Walking rough Grief series of educational DVD’s and is also the co-founder of The Grief Toolbox which offers a wide variety of grief-related resources and products.

So, what can one expect from attending this special event? Dr. Ken Druck says “I see this as a great opportunity to engage bereaved men across this country with a feeling of camaraderie and solidarity. Those attending can expect to see individual presenters and leaders working together with a common mission of making the world a safer, healthier, kinder and more compassionate place for men and boys grieving a loss.”

Kris Munsch wants those who participate to feel safe to embrace their own vulnerability. “My son’s death tore open a wound that will never completely heal, that is reality. To look at it any differently is simply false, but to live in fear of it, is making a decision to not understand it. As men we can choose to learn from our loss to walk-the-walk, to disarm it, to respect it, but to no longer let it negatively control us. Finding peace in our lives comes as we continue to openly share that message. It’s not easy work being a man in grief, yet we can encourage each other to continue.”

Mitch Carmody agrees that there is great power for men in our vulnerability. “Embracing our vulnerability allows us to overcome shame and face the dragon of our own perception that often sees grief as a weakness. I hope that all the men who attend walk away with the hope that they can begin embracing their grief as a strength which gives them the power to take emotional risks and being accessible.”

“When it comes to grieving in many ways men are an underserved population,” says Glen Lord. “The Real Men Grieve symposium is meant to shine a light on the fact that there is a lot more to a man’s grief than the stereotypical picture often portrayed. Some of us get angry, some of us do not. Some of us get quiet; some of us want to talk. Some of us engage in unhealthy behavior and some of us don’t. The real message we hope to send is that giving ourselves permission to grieve is a starting place from which healing can begin.”

The Real Men Grieve Symposium will also feature a guest contributor. Former Detroit Lions Quarterback Eric Hipple will join us to talk about men and depression and share from his personal experience grieving the death of his son Jeffrey.

The Compassionate Friends is proud to offer this very special event as part of our 2014 National Conference. Please join us on Friday, July 12th for the Real Men Grieve symposium.

 

Alan Pederson

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