Last week’s message about parents who have lost a child during pregnancy clearly hit a nerve. We received feedback from numerous dads who shared their stories and their pain. Here’s a sampling:
Over the course of their fourteen years of marriage, Eric and his wife have persevered through fertility treatments and numerous miscarriages. One son was born prematurely, but died after three weeks in the NICU. They have a daughter who is now five, but the struggles continue as they attempt to have more children. How do they cope? Eric writes, “We try to work all the stress points as best we can. We try to pray together as much as we can.”
Our staff has talked about some of these stories, and several have had experiences with this very issue. Ron and his wife lost triplet daughters in their fifth month and had two miscarriages after that. The best insight Ron received during that time was that husbands and wives often express their grief in different ways and work through the grieving process at different rates. He summed it up, “Do your best to be very understanding of your wife–and be patient.”
Bill, another staff member, has gone through four miscarriages. He offers these four suggestions for times of grief: 1) Support and love your spouse. 2) Depend on the support of others who have been through something like what you have experienced–and who are kind enough not to preach at you, but just be there. 3) Difficult times often cause people to ponder deep spiritual questions, and you should explore those. Sometimes, trusting God is the only thing that makes any sense. 4) Remember that time does heal wounds.
To Think About …
Don was overwhelmed when his first child was stillborn. His dreams of having a family were put on hold. Instead of going to a baby shower and finishing the decorating of his baby’s room, he had to make funeral arrangements. Then, he and his wife Sue suffered the loss of a second child and a third child by miscarriages. Their dream of having a family seemed like a mirage. He knew the statistics: 10% of women with no history of miscarriages will lose a child, 16% after one loss, 25% after two losses, and 45% after three miscarriages. Don and Sue adjusted their family plan and, after a decade of emotional pain and healing, they adopted their first child–then a second several years later. Caring for their adopted children brought healing and fulfillment. But there’s more to the story. As you might have guessed, later in life, Don and Sue conceived again. Sue was able to carry and deliver a healthy, full-term baby. Then, they added another child. This family of six is very familiar with both the pain and the joy of childbearing. Their life epitomizes the poetic truth, “Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy.”
ACTION POINTS for Committed Fathers
- If you are able, tell your children about the loss of a child in your extended family. Describe how that loss was processed in the family.
- Write a note or call a father who has experienced the loss of a child this past year. Ask him specifically, “How are you doing … really?” Be available to listen if he wants to talk more about his grief.
- Talk to your wife about the grieving process. Discuss how each of you grieve during a time of loss. Seek to understand her.
- There are no articles on our website on grieving the loss of a child. If you have experiences in this area and you’d like to tell your story and offer some practical suggestions for other grieving dads, please contact us. Visit http://www.fathers.com/feedback and send us an e-mail.
- Role-play a difficult problem with your kids. Talk through the available options and make sure you arrive at a positive solution.