When my twin sons were stillborn over ten years ago, my grief was incredibly intense and lasted for a very long time. I don’t think I was feeling myself again for more than a year after their death. Daily tasks and even laughter were difficult. I have since learned that is very normal for a mother.
My husband had a different experience. I think because he didn’t form the attachment to the twins as I did early in my pregnancy, and because men for the most part grieve differently than women, he was able to “pull it together” within weeks after their death. He resolved his feelings by going back to work and taking care of me. He learned the words to the song “Tears In Heaven” by Eric Clapton and played it on his guitar. But that was for the most part the extent to which he showed his grief.
At first I was very hurt by the fact that he didn’t seem to want to talk about the babies as much as me. Nor did he want to visit their grave as often. We attended a support group together a couple of times, but he didn’t really want to go after that. I felt he wasn’t truly sharing the intense grief experience I was going through. At the time I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t seemingly feeling the same pain.
Through my experiences since, I have learned that what my husband exhibited was very normal for a grieving man. For the most part, men aren’t as emotional and tend to work out their feelings through doing, like going back to work or taking care of a grieving partner. Although this is not true of all men (everyone grieves differently), it was in my experience.
We were among the fortunate that our ordeal with the twins brought us much closer together as a couple. Through our lost children and grief we became stongly bonded forever. Unfortunately, not every couple ends up that way.
There are many resources for grieving fathers and their partners on the internet. The National Share office has a pamphlet on their website found under “Support Resources” that fathers might find helpful. The M.I.S.S. Foundation has a Father’s Page found in their “Family Resources” section. Both websites can be accessed on the side of this page.
Until next time both mothers and fathers…take care and hang in there.