Father’s Grief

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Fathers and partners often spend pregnancies looking forward to what they will be able to do with their new baby.  A miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, neonatal death, or similar losses represents a loss of those dreams.  

Men often grieve the loss of a pregnancy or baby in the shadows.  Many cultural and societal pressures can make partners feel like they must be strong for the mother or other family members or that he didn’t connect with the pregnancy as much as the mother did.  These myths can be devastating and may be perpetuated by differences in how men and women tend to grieve.  

Each person processes grief in a unique and personal way.  Common emotions of grief include sadness, anger, disbelief, frustration, and acceptance.  Physical symptoms can include sleeplessness, increased sleeping, increased or decreased appetite, nausea, lack of focus, or headaches.  Give yourself permission to feel the emotions you are experiencing and time the address your symptoms in a way that is right for you.  

Partners may feel resentment that the mother is receiving most of the attention.  It can be normal to feel this way.  In some situations, you may also have fears about your partner’s health, safety, and future fertility.  Don’t hesitate to tell others if you need support, too.  

Some men find it helpful to be busy during this time.  There may be tasks that need to be completed, phone calls to make, or projects that feel appropriate.  Fathers tend to return to work earlier than mothers, although this is not always the case.  Other things that can help include talking with friends or family, attending a support group, connecting with another father who has been through a similar experience, talking to your partner, writing down your thoughts, or engaging in activities you find calming and therapeutic.  Professional counseling is available and recommended if your emotions are interfering in daily activities, interfering with your relationships, are prolonged, or cause you to think about harming yourself.  

Recognizing if you and your partner are greiving different can be helpful in understanding and supporting each other.  Grief is hard work that takes a lot of energy.  Being a partner to someone who is grieving is equally hard work.  Be kind to yourselves as you both handle these new roles.  

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