Ageing Dis-Masculinities: The Disenfranchised Grief of Ageing Veterans

Conference: The European Conference on Aging & Gerontology (EGen2022)
Title: Ageing Dis-Masculinities: The Disenfranchised Grief of Ageing Veterans
Stream: Loneliness
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Udi Lebel, Bar Ian University, Israel


In Israeli society, military commanders who lost soldiers in battle respond to the ‘emotional regime’ of 'hegemonic masculinity' and 'cultural militarism'. Their relationships with their "Brothers in Arms" – to whom they were committed in brotherhood and sometimes even in homoeroticism, are described as the height of intimacy. However, ‘death scenarios’ expected of these commanders are clear and long term: they are allocated no emotional space to morn. Even if over the years there is a growing legitimization of expressions of sadness and grief, the only ones required to perform ‘the work of mourning’ are the biological bereaved family. Meanwhile, commanders are meant to ‘be there’ for the families. There too they remain ‘on duty’, internalizing the demands of their social role and performing a ‘Loss Staging’. For years, since their time as young commanders until the end of their lives, these officers experience a ‘Disenfranchised Grief’. The study uses qualitative methodologies – conversations with ‘bereaved commanders’ in their third and fourth age, describing their methods of coping with their ‘Disenfranchised Grief’, its origins and how they coped with the grief they experienced and did not dare express, while trying to preserve their symbolic status. Finally, they describe their new way of thinking and the self-criticism they feel towards those years in which they sentenced themselves to a complicated grief, which led to a burden of familial, social and personal implications,– towards the end of their lives – are they able to express a critical discourse towards the political psychology

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