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Friday, June 18, 2010

Father's Day Thoughts After a Miscarriage

Father's Day is a wonderful holiday, although it usually doesn't receive as much fanfare as Mother's Day.

When speaking of miscarriage, infertility, or other babies and children gone too soon, we often refer to Mother's Day as the "dreaded holiday" full of memories of what could have been, stark reminders of empty arms. I hope that you can read a few of my other posts here on this blog and information in my book, Lost Children: Coping with Miscarriage to help with these feelings. I'm bringing up this subject because I want to shine a light on a holiday that can be just as hard for a man who also has empty arms--Father's Day.

In my book, I have a special chapter,  
Husbands Have a Right to Grieve.
Here is an excerpt from that chapter:

Whenever someone mentions miscarriage, our thoughts usually turn to the woman who is suffering. She has gone through a terrible experience and we try our best to help and comfort her. But what about her husband?

The husband also has the right and need to mourn. He may experience some of the same or different emotions as his spouse. From my own experience, I remember I was so overwhelmed by my initial grief and pain that I couldn’t focus on anything else. I am so grateful my husband was able to explain to me that he was hurting too. Because he was willing to confide in me, my perspective shifted significantly so I was able to see that the suffering was not just my own, but ours to endure together.

It helped me to know that not only was my husband concerned about me, but he too was grieving the loss of our baby. He was not always as verbal about his feelings as I was. There were days I would forget he was grieving because he mourned in such a quiet way.

Men are very different from women emotionally, and particularly in how those emotions are expressed. Women usually find it therapeutic to verbalize their thoughts and emotions, whereas men tend to resolve them by thinking them out and bringing them to a mental resolution. Our differences can and should complement each other instead of causing discord.

Many women shared with me that their husbands wished someone would acknowledge they were hurting too. During my research, I have learned that many husbands often felt overlooked and forgotten during the mourning and comforting process. One man said, “It was my baby too and I am hurting just as much as my wife. I know it’s different but I’m not only hurting for the loss of the baby. I’m hurting for the pain my wife is going through.”

Even though husbands do have a need and a right to grieve, most will grieve differently than their wife. Because the woman experiences all of the physical changes of pregnancy and miscarriage, it is often hard for the husband to identify with the same emotions. He will likely feel grief, but he may not express his feelings as openly.

I talked to many husbands who felt they needed to be strong for their wife and family. Some felt that if they could temper their hurt and disappointment it would help their wife deal with the situation better.

You can read more on this subject in my book. My hope is to create awareness that it is not only the woman who suffers after a miscarriage. We can be sensitive to both the husband and a wife in this case and remember that even though women are the emotional creatures, men have feelings too.

With Father's Day approaching, I hope that you will have a chance to make new happy memories. If there is sadness in your life right now because of loss, I hope you can take a moment to ponder how you can help a father who has suffered and how you can both walk the healing path together.

If you have questions, feel free to email me: RachellethewriterAT
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