|Men & Family|
There is no real right or wrong way to approach the subject of pregnancy loss, but there are certainly some really important elements to bear in mind. If you don’t know what to say, keep your comments to a minimum and just listen.
The overwhelming opinion of many women of what helped is:
This is what the women thought did not help:
Men do feel as deeply as women, but they express their emotions differently.
Men are confronted with how society expects them to deal with grief and loss. It can a double edged sword, as men need to be strong and supportive, yet are judged for not showing enough emotion. For men this can be a minefield to navigate. If he is too silent, we think he doesn’t care or that he isn’t grieving. This quiet grief can be seen as cold, irritable or depressed.
Often a man will need to have time alone to grieve, this comes from the need to be independent. A man may try to find physical ways of dealing with his pain. Work can become an outlet and sometimes their only way of coping. Equally a man will recover and heal differently. The healing will be less visible and more subtle. Men need support too.
As a man it is important to appreciate that you grieve differently, influenced by who you are and how you grew up.
Many men will look for some kind of plan or process in order to deal with their loss. It is okay to look for some quiet and solitude, as long as you are still connecting with your partner in some way. It is important to acknowledge your experience and use it for your own growth. Some men find that they emotionally check out of their relationships for a while or even permanently. This type of loss puts a huge strain on a relationship and is going to be tough to survive. This can be due to our expectations of the other person. Why does she still cry all day? Why doesn’t he talk about this?
There are some behaviours which may help,
Finally a word on intimacy, a slogan to remember could be, in-to-me-I-see !
During the period of time leading up to the miscarriage your partner may have been advised no to have sexual intercourse. Then the miscarriage happens and your partner may have needed some medical intervention. She will have been advised to refrain from sexual intercourse for a time afterwards.
Many women link sex with how they feel as a woman. If she has miscarried this can bring into question who she is as a woman. Some can avoid sexual contact for fear of becoming pregnant again. She may also struggle to allow herself to feel good. For some women the arrival of her first monthly period after the miscarriage can act of a horrible reminder.
Intimacy comes in lots of forms, but starts with us first. It is not just about sex. A miscarriage in a family is in some ways a very intimate event. This can pull a family together, however some families don’t survive. This is often due to not talking about the loss and unresolved grief.
We need to try to give each other permission to love and be loved. Take time, this can be a steady journey of recovery. Ensure as a man you are saying what you need and are being heard. Take a look at the Walk With Jude Programme for some ideas.
For extended family members
You are powerless over the loss of your grandchild and also feel for your son or daughter. Watching our children experience the loss of their child can be incredibly hard. We have to standby and watch, there is nothing we can do to prevent this.
Support can be offered in small ways. Being there, saying what you need to but be honest rather than helpful. You can’t make this go away.
As the parent, your child will need to be heard and not judged. You can be a great support here. Remember what then happens next will be the decision of your son or daughter. You can’t control or influence their plans, the time will become right, when they decide.
Some families’ who experience miscarriage may already have children. One question on many parents’ minds will be how I explain this.
All children need honesty. Keeping the facts short and clear will help the child to understand. Using simple terms like, “the baby died, but we will always love and remember him/her” is good. The child may wan to know what that means, we can perhaps say, “the baby’s heart stopped beating and it died”. Children can often take what we say literally, so being honest should stop that from happening.
Perhaps if the child id of a school age, you may want to explain this to their teacher, so your message is reinforced.
Co-work or Work
Often many women don’t even tell their employer that they are pregnant at the time that they miscarry. With a second or third miscarriage many women wait until much later to let any one know. It is then increasingly difficult to first say that they are pregnant and now they are not. This will take a lot of understanding and compassion, which unfortunately many work places don’t have. This kind of understanding will make a huge difference to the recovery of this family.
Allowing time to grieve is important. The mother should be given time to set some limits. Getting back into the work routine can be helpful as long as the feelings are not being denied. Ensuring that they take their breaks and lunches also helps to keep the mother healthy. Perhaps accepting that for a while the productivity may be affected, but with time this will improve.