Men and Pregnancy Loss also known as Miscarriage
Men During a Pregnancy Loss
When a pregnancy is lost, society as a whole gathers round the mother and supports her during a very difficult time. Sadly, the man is often ignored or placed solely into a support role for his partner during this time.
Men also feel deeply and painfully the loss of a pregnancy and the potential of what was being lost forever. It is important to provide support to men as well. It is important to learn how to be supportive of a man that has experienced pregnancy loss so that he may grieve and heal.
Ask Him How He is Doing
So many women will find support everywhere that they go. Family, friends, co-workers, religious worship friends and various support groups will rally around the woman and offer words and actions of support.
When you know that a man has experienced the loss of a pregnancy, ask how he is doing. He may start to answer by telling you that he is fine, or that his partner is fine. Ask again gently how he is doing. Don't interrupt, finish his sentences or offer words of support before he is done speaking. Let him finish. Even if there is a long pause, let the man have a chance to express how he feels. You may be the first person to ask him.
Don't cut his responses off. Let him express how this is making him feel.
Crying Over a Pregnancy Loss is Acceptable
When I asked the husband of a client how he was doing when they lost a pregnancy, he stared at me for a moment. Then the tears started to fall. His face became red, and pushing out the words was difficult for him. I stood there and placed my hand gently on his arm. He leaned over and cried on my shoulder for a long time. I did not ask him to stop crying. I let him cry for as long as he needed to cry, and it was a very long cry.
When men cry, they will often self comfort by saying things such as "I am okay. I am fine." Let them express how they feel, and let them know that they experienced a loss of the hope of a baby. Being sad is normal. Crying is normal. If they were reacting happy or joyful, that would be strange. Don't belittle a man for shedding tears.
Offer to Listen
A great statement is : "If you want to not share what happened, I understand and I will not ask questions. If you want to share what happened, I am here to listen to you. I can only imagine what you must be going through right now."
Listening means listening. To be clear: it is not offering stories of your situation and how it was far worse than what the man you are speaking to is going through. Not sharing stories to express that you have been through it, too.
Listening means giving your full attention to what is being said, not doing other things while you are listening.
If the man does open up to you, make good eye contact without staring, put away cell phones and other electronics and listen.
Don't Alienate Your Friends After a Pregnancy Loss
Something that the couple who lost the pregnancy shared with me stunned me.
People were very kind to the wife for a week or so after they lost their pregnancy. Then, it was as though they became invisible.They both said that they felt like shadows. That you could see them, but people did not interact with them. Emails stopped, invitations to things stopped, everything simply stopped. It was as though both of them were invisible. For the wife, it was a little easier. At her work, co-workers would still occasionally ask if she were well. For the husband, he was expected to be back to normal as soon as he returned to work.
After a man experiences the loss of a pregnancy due to a miscarriage or other factors, many things may be in his mind.
Without having a support place to express his feelings, a man may not feel as though he is normal, or wonder if his reactions to the loss are right.
There actually are many support groups for men and women who have experienced this loss. Often, we as friends and family are unaware, and therefore, we do not know to offer the support resources to our friends. A search online can point you in the right direction to find more resources and groups to share with the male partner.
It Does Not Matter How Far Along the Pregnancy Was
Sometimes, people will discard the notion of grief for a pregnancy that was not far along. The thought seems to be that since the loss was early, there was something wrong and "nature sorted it out".
This can sometimes push grief feelings further inward, as the man is led to believe that this pregnancy was not allowed to be grieved over. The loss over the potential of a child is a deep loss to some people, no matter how far along the pregnancy that it was lost at. Expressing sadness at the loss is normal and natural. It does not matter how far along the pregnancy progressed.
Be Careful of the Words You Choose for the Infertile Couple
No, infertile couples are not delicate little things made of gentle glass that will break at the slightest blow. Having to get help from medical personnel can be a huge invasion of privacy as well as a depletion of financial resources. Suggestions of adoption or being able to try again do not address the matter at hand, but instead make light of it. To the person or couple enduring pregnancy loss, the loss of the potential life can be devastating on many levels. Letting the male partner know that you share in the sadness for them as a couple can let him know that you care about him.
It is Okay to Not Know What to Say
My dear couple that lost their pregnancy shared something with me that I still recall. The best thing was when their pastor said "I do not know what to say beyond saying I am sorry for your loss. It somehow does not seem adequate."
Both husband and wife cherished that there did not seem to be words to express from others how deeply sad they felt.
Additionally, the husband said that these were the phrases that he winced when he heard:
- Well, it was probably deformed
- Nature has a way of sorting these things out
- You can always adopt.
- There are plenty of older kids that need good homes
- Just keep trying, it will happen
- Maybe you are not meant to be a parent
- God made such a perfect creation, He wanted it to Himself
- God wanted another flower for His garden
- It is a blessing in disguise
- Well, that was a waste of a fertility treatment
- Did you get to see the baby?
- Was the baby born dead?
- How is she holding up? (When the wife was sitting next to him)
- More time for sports/hobby/work
- You still have your health
- You still have your existing children
- You still have each other
Loss is Unique
People grieve differently. One man may cry while another yells. One man may pretend it never happened publicly while keeping a journal. No two people will experience the loss of a pregnancy in the same way. Simply offering support, following up on support and being a good friend are the most valuable gifts you can contribute to a man when this happens. Reading about grief is helpful, as it allows you to be compassionate.
Loss of Pregnancy
Have you experienced the loss of a pregnancy directly?
If you have experienced this event, my sincere condolences to you.