Are you spending Mother’s Day wondering if you are, in fact, a mother? Are you a father dealing with grief as Father Day approaches? 900,000-1 million couples in the U.S. alone face this question every year after suffering pregnancy loss.
As you face the sadness of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, you can both give yourselves a very simple gift – acknowledge that you are a mother and father. You may not have a baby to hold in your arms, but you both have one to hold in your heart.
If you are grieving during this time that we celebrate parenthood, there are some tips that can help. Men and women handle grief very differently, so we have included separate help for each, adapted from the book Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death.
Nothing will lesson the pain of Mother’s Day, but with some planning you can make sure the day has meaning for you.
Here are some tips that can help:
– Let Your Family Know What You Need.
If you feel uncomfortable being recognized as a mother at a banquet or other function, substitute an activity you would feel good about. If you would rather not receive or wear a flower, then wear an item that helps you to connect with your baby, such as a piece of jewelry that includes the baby’s birthstone.
– Remember Your Baby.
Mother’s Day can be a great time for a husband and wife to talk about their baby and what the baby meant to them. Take a walk, have a quiet dinner, or just set aside some time to remember your baby together.
– Decide Ahead of Time.
The way you chose to spend Mother’s Day should be your decision- and one you make ahead of time. Setting time aside to remember and talk about your baby will make you “feel” more like a mom on the very day designed to do that. Remember that your spouse may experience similar feelings on Father’s Day, so be sure to ask how he would like to spend the day.
After the loss of a baby, Father’s Day can be a painful time for men that isn’t widely discussed or recognized. The lack of understanding and support offered to men makes grief a very complex and difficult situation. Be sure to let your family know how you would like to spend Father’s Day.
Here are some ways to handle your grief:
– Talk About It.
You may feel uncomfortable putting your feelings into words, but talking about your loss with trusted loved ones will help. Don’t be afraid to cry and express your emotions. Discuss any questions or concerns that surface about how you are handling your grief, and know that your process will be different, but equal to your wife.
– Ask for Space.
If you need space to experience grief in your own way without criticism, ask for it. Explain how the time alone can help, rather than giving the impression that you are “shutting out” your loved ones.
– Deal with Anger.
While women may tend to point anger inward, men often direct their anger outward. This can manifest as anger toward your spouse or even God. Remember that expressed anger is a normal and healthy response to grief, however hostile behavior is not. If you are feeling hostile, or having difficulty dealing with anger, get help.
Dealing with pregnancy loss is difficult for anyone; especially on a day designed to celebrate new life, that instead, brings sadness. Mothers and fathers can support one another and ensure the day has meaning for your both.