MOURNING MEN: A Journey Through Grief
by Clifford E. Denay, Jr.
PB, 370 pages
Over time, American culture has taught men not to show their pain except at the cost of their power and masculine merit. Men are supposed to be tough, powerful, wealthy, reserved, and, always in control. Clifford E. Denay, Jr.’s Mourning Men reveals the Achilles heel of this social falsehood. Death is a reality that everyone must face, and the only healthy way to engage in the pain is by grieving.
Mourning Men is almost more of a story than a daily reader: a tale of tears and rage; clenched teeth and open hands; holding on and letting go. Denay is recounting memories of his own relationship with loss. Written in response to the passing of his twenty-seven year old son, this book encapsulates all of the confusion and fear associated with the chaos of death. Lack of control and doubt is intermingled with feelings of hope and redemption. Mourning Men comes from the standpoint of a recovering man, holding out his hand in companionship to the recently deprived.
Themes of community, prayer, the afterlife, doubt, control, family and love are consistently discussed throughout the book. Often these notions are reflected by a story or an idea that helps to solidify the point. Each of these readings is coupled with a quote and a takeaway thought.
Clifford E. Denay, Jr. is a recently retired professional counselor at North Central Michigan College. His writing advocates entering into the world of grief wholeheartedly. He offers no pat answers. Grief is not the kind of sensation easily erased or manipulated by simple tips and tricks. In times of trouble, many men will be tempted to try these tactics, shutting up their sorrow in a box and pretending to be just fine. Mourning Men is not a book about cheap salvation, but of solace for the troubled mind: a friend to walk with along the shadowy path of grief and loss.
Joseph Duncan is a professional writing major at Taylor University and a freelance writer for WBCL radio, Church Libraries, and The Echo.