Pregnancy/infant loss is a family event. The loss of this individual affects not just the parent, but siblings, cousins, aunts/uncles, grandparents and other loved ones. How each of them grieve can have an impact on the overall family’s mourning and choices in parenting (bonding, memory making, photography) and how we initially accept and integrate this experience into our lives Below is an overview of the affects this has on the family:
Supporting dad/non-birthing parents...
Often, after the loss of a pregnancy or baby, family and friends focus on the needs of the mother and overlook the needs and grief of the father/non-birthing parent (NBP) who lost the same baby/pregnancy. We recognize that unfortunate fact and are working hard to help change the way people think about and respond to loss. Men, in particular, tend to handle emotions much differently than their female counterparts and your grief is no different. For non-birthing parents, regardless of gender, there is still a need for specialized support in the aftermath to explore their grief, connect with others and find validation for their experience. Below are profiles of other loss dads who are seeking to support other dads at the nest.
Dad to Jimmie (stillbirth), Chloe (ectopic loss) and Beatrix (rainbow birth)
Please reach out if you don't know what to do with your feelings or need someone to talk to. You are not alone, friend!
Dad to Zara Frances (stillborn)
Even if you feel you don't need the support, you'd be shocked at how nice it is to be around people who can relate!
Dad to Bryan, Kristina Jane (stillborn) and Lucas (rainbow birth)
Three Little Birds bring so much comfort and support to families. It's the support we didn't' know we even needed. I am grateful for the community they have built.
Dad to Emerson Rae (stillbirth) and Elia Rae (rainbow birth)
Three Little Birds was a critical resource for my wife and I in our time of need. It is a great community of families that all truly care for each other.
Dad to Mila Kelly (early neonatal loss)
Three Little Birds has made the hardest time in my life bearable. Nothing can be soothe the pain of loosing a child. But, the support my wife and I receive here helps more than I could’ve imagined. Read more about Quinnzel's legacy project, the MFFL here!
Paul Jay Cohen
Dad to Izzy, River, Finn & Grace (miscarriages)
Southern Jersey Shore
Like many loss dads, I could barely whisper "I need help" after our losses. The Three Little Birds community was the first I found that could hear me and that made me feel at home. They gave me the support (and the space) that I needed to heal. I wish I would have reached out sooner!
Dad to Cade James (stillbirth) and
Odin James (rainbow birth)
When my son died, Three Little Birds stepped in and did something I didn’t know how to do. I didn’t know how to be that dad to my kid in this situation. This is why I want to help others in his memory because its hard to understand, unless you’ve been through it.
Dad to Stephen (neonatal/twin loss)
As a Dad in the military, I usually conform to the "adjust on the fly" mentality. When I lost my son Stephen to an illness seven days after birth I was lost. I didn't know who to turn to or how to ask for help as I was going through this all the while being strong to support my wife, daughter, and Stephen's twin, RJ, still being in the NICU. Along came Three Little Birds and they had all the resources I could have ever asked for. I am just getting into the swing of things and hope to return the favor to other parents going through something similar.
Resources for partners:
Join the MFFL! - Local loss dad Quinnzel created a fantasy football league in memory of his daughter, Mila. The winner of the fundraising league will receive a large flat screen TV!
Love Comma Dad - Care packages from perinatal loss dads to other loss dads.
Red Nose Grief & Loss Series - a video series of discussions by perinatal loss parents.
Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back - This book is a collection of candid stories from grieving dads that were interviewed over a two year period. It is a collection of survival stories by men who have survived the worst possible loss and lived to tell the tale. The core message of Grieving Dads is “you’re not alone.” It is a message that desperately needs to be delivered to grieving dads who often grieve in silence due to society’s expectations.”
Supporting siblings through loss...
Three Little Birds has authored a sibling grief book to gently explain perinatal loss to children. You can purchase a copy or request a free Kindle download. In addition to our original book, we offer it in three addition versions: Spanish, LGBTQ (moms) and LGBTQ (dads). Click here to purchase.
Local support for bereaved siblings
Uplift Philly - Uplift Center for Grieving Children (formerly The Center for Grieving Children) was founded in 1995 by the Bereavement Program at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and incorporated as an independent nonprofit in 2000.
Peter's Place - Peter’s Place was founded in 2001 in memory of Peter Morsbach. After Peter’s sudden death at the age of ten, his family and friends became aware that there were few support options for grieving families, especially for those who could not afford it. Friends of the Morsbach family created Peter’s Place, the first family grief support agency of its kind to serve our area. Originally designed after a nationally recognized program, Peter’s Place has since combined awareness of local community needs, professional experience, and extensive best practices research to produce a unique grieving center that is not replicated anywhere.
City of Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office - Free bereavement support services are available for people grieving the loss of a loved one in Philadelphia. To get support, call the MEO bereavement counselors at (215) 685-7408 or (215) 685-7411 during regular business hours and on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For sudden, unexpected deaths of most Philadelphia infants, children, and teens, the MEO offers counseling by phone or in your home. To learn more, call (215) 685-7402.
Supporting grandparents through loss...
Grandparents are grieving twice: first for their grandchild, but also for their children, for whom they cannot fix the situation. Often times, grandparents are the best support system and encouraging of parents in bonding, making memories and photography. Then there are times, where due to generational trauma/influence, grandparents are managing complex grief and can be a hindrance towards making the most of the time they have. Additionally, cultural and societal norms can leave grandparents feeling on edge or wanting to manage the outcome of the experience, without considering the wants/needs of their children for their grandchild. We encourage you to maintain an open dialogue with your elder loved ones as to your wishes and why and allow them an opportunity to help, if possible.
We also want to acknowledge not everyone has the support of parents or older loved ones through this experience which can further complicate feelings or thoughts on what is “right” or “wrong”. We encourage you to do what is best for you and your partner as it relates to your baby. You are their parent and know what is best.
Things not to say
“You are young – you can always have more.”
“What did you do wrong?”
“The child wouldn’t have been healthy.”
“It was not meant to be.”
“At least you have other children.”
“Life goes on.”
“Try to get pregnant as fast as you can.”
“You’ve got to be strong.”
“Don’t cry. Everything is going to be all right.”
“It is only a miscarriage.”
“I know just how you feel.”
“It won’t happen again.”
Things you can say
“I don’t know what to say, but I’ll be glad to listen.”
“You must feel devastated.”
“I’m here if you want to talk.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Help me to know how I can best be there for you.”
“What do you need me to do?”
“I’m so sorry this has happened.”
“I love you!”