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 your female counterpart and your grief is no different. Your response to your child’s death, or lack of, may be very different than mom - and sometimes in a way that puzzles her.
What can be done to show support to a NBP who has experienced the deep pain of losing a child? Probably the most appreciated gesture of support would be to acknowledge the fact that the father is still a father/mom is still a mom, even though their child is no longer living on this earth. Refer to him as a dad/her as mom, and express your genuine sorrow for his loss. Partners who have lost a child as early as miscarriage should most certainly be included among the group of grieving parents.
Recognize the fact that NBPs go through emotional upheavals during the grief of child loss. Men often times outwardly grieve different than a mother would, so they might not want a lot of special treatment. They are generally less apt to talk about their feelings of hurt and loss, but those feelings are still there and need to be recognized. They are, by nature, “fixers” and the loss of a child is a loss that cannot be fixed. This fact is often very hard for a man to accept. By giving a card and a personal word, you will help validate to the NBP that they are still a Dad/Mom!
Lastly, on Father’s/Mother's Day, finding a card specifically for parents who have lost a child can be next to impossible. If you cannot find a card with an appropriate verse, choose a blank card and write your own message from the heart. “Sharing in your sorrow this Father’s/Mother's Day” or, if appropriate, “Blessings to you this year as God watches over your heavenly angel”, will show a tremendous amount of compassion and support to a NBP who is grieving the loss of a child on these days.
With help and support from family and friends, a NBP can move forward in his/her grief. By letting them know that they have not been forgotten, you will validate their identity as a dad/mpm.
To all grieving mothers: your partners lack of emotions to your pregnancy or infant loss may surprise, shock or confuse you. Please be aware that this is very common, not necessarily a need to worry, and can have many, often several causes.
Fathers often see themselves as providers, emotionally stronger, and take on the role of holding the "family ship" above water when everything else is falling apart.
Men are used to dealing with their emotions in an different way.
Many grieving fathers need to return to work soon after the sad event and function there. A fathers grieving sadly often doesn't find acceptance at work.
A fathers relationship to his child is often very different to a mother-child relationship. Especially, if the child died before birth, fathers have fewer and less tangible memories.
RESOURCES FOR DADS
RESOURCES FOR NON-BIRTHING PARENTS