Miscarriages are one of the biggest mysteries that we all encounter. Sometimes, doctors can identify a reason for the unexpected loss of life, but more often than not, there is no explanation. The expectant couple is sent home without much at all--no information, no support and no baby to hold.
As a man, we do not understand the physical or mental pain that women endure when they experience a miscarriage. Doctors sometimes offer support group information to the mothers, but as a man, I have not encountered many resources for fathers that have walked down this road. I hope that this writing will be enlightening for both men and women as we navigate the pain of miscarriage.
My wife and I have experienced at least five miscarriages. Amongst all of the pain, we have one beautiful, amazing little girl. I say “we” experienced this because men experience pain, too, when there is a loss of life. When women experience a loss, men are usually clueless in how to help them. Their hearts are torn to pieces by their loss. A woman’s heart aches for the life that was once in their bellies and what that life could have been. A man is searching for the right words to give comfort and reassurance to his wife.
As a culture, we tend to measure women on how many children a woman has or doesn't have. If I had a dollar for every time folks asked us “You only have one?” or “When is the next one on its way?”, I could retire instantly. People might have good intentions by asking, but they do not see the big picture that God has painted for each individual family. Each family is different and created by God's divine plan.
The following are tips on how to help men in journeying through the valleys of miscarriage…
Don’t assume you know how a man is feeling about the loss. We do not always like to talk about our feelings, but we do need to process our grief. We are trying to find a balance between helping ourselves and helping the woman we love. Ask us how we are doing. We do not need a long conversation, but check in with us on occasion to make sure we are ok.
Do not state that “this was all part of God’s plan”. I think this is one of the most crippling statements that people hear when they experience a miscarriage. While we know this, we are just as upset about the sudden loss of our child. Try not to add to our trauma. Everything is blurry and nothing's making sense. We need faith (not fluff) more than ever during this place in our journey. Pray with and for us instead.
Give us some space. Everybody needs some time to get away and clear their mind. Whether a guy enjoys reading, writing, hunting, fishing, or golfing, it would benefit all parties involved to give him some space. It is in the time away that we can re-gather our thoughts and come back home with more strength and clarity.
Allow us to be transparent and vulnerable. This is very dangerous for us men. We want to be honest about all of our hopes, fears, dreams, and struggles but this is often frowned upon in society. We are often told to “suck it up”. This is a good mantra for when we have a slight headache and need to go to work. However, this does not work with any of our wounds. We are all wounded and we need to present these wounds to God for healing and to others for guidance. This is where confidentiality is key. If a man shares his pain about miscarriage to you, this is not something to discuss with your friends, your mother, or others. Respect our hearts and minds--especially if we are usually guarded.
Love us. We are called to love each other---especially the domestic family, regardless of how big or small, that we have been blessed with. Find our love language and continue to make an effort to reach out to us. Some men love encouraging notes while others would prefer to have quality time with their special lady. Don’t give up on us; we need you.
I am open to continuing this conversation. If you or someone you know has experienced a miscarriage and need a place to turn to, please feel free to comment on this blog or reach me at JavaAndJesus@yahoo.com.