A very silent grief: How miscarriage feels for the father
Sadly, not all pregnancies result in a baby, and a significant number (between 15 and 20 percent) of pregnancies end due to miscarriage.
Making a horrible situation even worse, some parents-to-be still find that miscarriage is viewed as a medical event or something that was 'just not meant to be' and not necessarily as a bereavement. Although women's loss is often acknowledged, very little is said about the opposite sex.
What kind of emotional impact does miscarriage have on men?
There has been surprisingly little published psychological research looking at the emotional impact and consequences of miscarriage on men. Unfortunately, there still appears to be a strong assumption that men do not grieve for the loss of their baby. This assumption is largely due to two factors which are closely linked. Firstly, guys are usually not openly demonstrative about their loss and, often, do not communicate it well to their partners or others. Secondly, men are often just not asked (or spoken to) about their loss, with most questions about emotional well-being directed at their partner.
After a miscarriage men often report feeling that they have let their partner and baby down in some way, even though the situation is obviously beyond anyone's control. It is also very common for women to experience a feeling of 'failure'.
Many couples experience conflict in their relationship after a miscarriage.
Studies have shown that men don't grieve in the same way as women and sometimes women do not even appreciate that their partner is grieving at all.
It is important for people to be aware that, generally speaking, men grieve silently and with more activity, busying themselves with work or something else to 'distract' from their emotions. Simply put, miscarriage is not only the woman's experience. The Miscarriage Association of Ireland highlights this issue, stating:
"It is generally assumed that men will take care of their partners. Sadly, it is often forgotten that they have suffered a loss too. Their hopes and dreams for the future have also been shattered."
The factors which help women deal with their loss are helpful to men too:
- Many men say that they don't want to further 'burden' their partners. Talk to your GP or seek out professional counselling if you feel you can't lean on your partner.
- Mark your loss if you would like to. Plant a tree or a flower. Or don't, it is an individual choice, and you should not feel pressurised one way or another.
- Allow yourself to grieve, throwing yourself straight back into reality is unlikely to benefit anyone in the long run. Grief is not time-limited.