Tips for the Dad When Baby Dies

When a father loses a baby during pregnancy or afterwards, the grief is always hard. Whether their baby has died due to miscarriage, stillbirth or post natal death, men tend to react differently compared with the baby’s mother.


Over the years since our losses, Fred and I have met many bereaved couples. Fred used to run a support group for grieving dads…  So, Dad, this article is from Fred to you. We sure hope it helps…


When baby dies, it's natural to want to focus on taking care of your partner: giving her love and support, and trying to help ease some of her pain. But at the same time you, too, have sadness and grief. Try to let yourself express your feelings and get support from others.


You are likely exhausted and confused. You would have been looking forward to your baby’s birth; the kicks and heartbeat would have been exciting signs of the future. If your partner suffered a miscarriage, you could probably only experience the pregnancy and its loss through her, and I can assure you from personal experience that this it twice as hard. You may also feel more distant from the loss and less affected by it than your partner, which could inadvertently upset her.


Tip 1: Express your feelings. A common desire is to stay “strong”, and yet at the same time, you probably feel like crying. Your partner might need to talk about your baby more than you want to. As painful as it may be, you will likely feel better after talking about it. Sharing some of your feelings will also help her realize you are hurting too: as a result, she will not feel so alone. I remember when we lost Marcus: my wife was so upset with me, because I was trying so hard to be “strong” for her. Since she did not see me cry, etc she thought I did not care -- when nothing could have been further from the truth! So, please share your sadness: she'll realize you’re grieving too, and won’t feel so alone.


Tip 2: Don't act okay when you're not. It's also going to be tough facing other people at first. It won’t be easy for you to go back to work and face people so soon. They may want to know about what happened but are unsure how to ask. So you might have to bring up the topic, several times, in those first early days. But it’s really important to understand that you don’t have to always act as if you are okay when you are not. (I made this mistake, too, after losing Marcus). Here’s a tip: I urge you to permit yourself to let some people know how you are truly feeling. Remember: you are grieving, too. It’s only natural to be sad, angry, confused or not interested in your work at this time.


Tip 3: Reach out for support: your friends want to help. It might seem really unfair, but it's likely that some people will ask only about how your partner is feeling – as if they assume that you are fine, or that you don’t want to talk about it. When I ran the dads’ support group, the best response I heard to this situation was: “Physically my wife is fine; but emotionally we're both in bad shape.” As you can imagine, this ‘opened the door’ for others to listen to his pain, and also gave them the chance to support him, too.

Comments (1)

Said this on 03-02-11 At 06:03 pm

Thank you. I will forward this information to my partner. I hope he reads it!

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