Everyone expects a mother to be devastated after the loss of a baby. Fewer people realise that so many dads hurt just as much. They may not have carried their baby inside but that doesn’t mean they love and miss them any less. Their babies were their future, their life, their heart, their child too.
It wasn’t just me that broke inside, my husband broke too. He desperately misses and grieves his son and often struggles just as much as I do. Men ache, hurt and yes even cry. They question and get angry. They can feel numb, empty, helpless and completely broken. They may appear ok which they might be, but you’ll often never know how someone feels behind closed doors.
It’s expected that women cry, talk and physically honour their baby whereas a man’s grief can be very internalised. Whether this is by choice or forced it doesn’t mean their grief isn’t there. The difficult thing is men don’t seem to have much of an opportunity to be honest with their feelings to others or to let down their guard. Society often tells boys that they need to be ‘strong’ and should hide emotions that make them feel vulnerable.
Care is also usually centred around the mother. I got messages, my husband got very few. People would ask him how I was but not many asked him how he was or offered a shoulder to him. He told me, “I don’t usually want to talk about it but I still want to be asked how I am, to know people care and understand he’s my son too”. Whenever someone sends him a message checking in on him, it helps greatly, acknowledging his pain and loss too. Whenever someone asks him “how are you doing?” not like a greeting but as a genuine question waiting to hear an honest answer, it’s healing. While he often just answers “I’m ok” or “thanks”, every caring person or offer to listen has always meant so much to him.
So this Father’s Day, please remember the fathers with children in their hearts too. Be sensitive to them and understand that it might be an incredibly painful day, even if they also have children in their arms. If you are close, ask them how they are, respecting if they do not want to talk but also be ready to listen if they do.