Sometimes the action that helps the man to tell his story and to help connect him with his loss is a very practical matter. One of the most common is when the man uses his work as a means to tell his story. That’s what Michael Jordan did.
In August of 1993 Michael Jordan’s father was tragically murdered in rural North Carolina. Two months later Jordan announced to the world that he was leaving basketball. In another two months he announced he was going to make a huge switch and play professional baseball. People were shocked and saddened that Jordan would leave basketball and the thought of him playing pro baseball was even harder to fathom. Why would he do such a thing? What we now know is that Jordan’s father James, had always wanted him to be a professional baseball player. Before his death he had urged Jordan to drop basketball and move to baseball. Now just four months after his father’s death Jordan was announcing that he would be playing pro baseball. It seems clear that Jordan was following the masculine path of honoring through action. He may not have gone to a support group to “tell his story” but instead told his story through the actions he took. Jordan was close to his father as a child and as an adult. It seems clear that a part of his grief for his father was connected to his honoring of his father and his father’s wishes for him to play professional baseball. Michael Jordan offers us a beautiful example of how the mature masculine deals with the difficulties of a powerful grief: We honor.
Bob Greene quotes Jordan talking about his time in the minors in his book Rebound13. Jordan said, “So on my drive to practice in the morning, he’s with me, and I remember why I am doing this. I remember why I am here. I am here for him.”
Jordan was clear. He was there for his father, to honor his father’s wishes, to honor his father’s love for him and to honor their time together. It is through the honoring that his story is told. Not unlike someone going to a support group and relating their story but Jordan did it through his actions. Actions that honored his father. I can imagine him standing at the plate waiting for the pitch to come and having a conversation with his father in his head.
Jordan’s actions to honor his father were practical; in essence he was dedicating his work in honor of his father. This is grief. Mature masculine grief. There are numerous other types of practical healing actions; lets have a look at just a few.
Excerpt, The Way Men Heal page 27-28.