Some fathers respond to miscarriage with intense grief, while other fathers don’t seem to feel any grief at all. There is an extremely broad range of emotions that fathers experience and often they are more bereaved than they let on. Generally, it appears that the farther along in pregnancy when the miscarriage occurred, the more time and opportunity fathers had to become attached to their babies; the longer the pregnancy, the deeper their grief is. If they saw their baby’s image on ultrasound or heard the heartbeat, they may have connected with their baby in a more tangible way. Even fathers who didn’t have a deep attachment to their unborn babies and who don’t seem deeply affected over the miscarriage, feel an array of emotions and may have trouble coping.
Men may have more difficulty expressing their emotions and may not show disappointment or sadness in front of others, but instead hide their feelings and grieve alone in private. They may think they need to stay strong for their partners and those that need them and that they shouldn’t express their own grief and pain. Because of this, many fathers may busy themselves with work, sports or other activities in an effort to deal with their grief. Men tend to look for more physical ways to express and work through their pain. Keeping feelings bottled-up inside ultimately hinders the healing process.
Some fathers concern for their partner’s well-being outweighs their feelings of grief. If they were present when the miscarriage occurred, they may have seen their partner in distress and frightened, having to helplessly stand by as she went through the physical aspect of miscarriage. Many men feel as if they need to “fix” the problem and protect their partners from hurt and pain. They may feel as if they need to take care of their partners, but are sometimes at a loss as to what to say or do to ease the pain, which likely leads to feelings of inadequacy.
Men, just as the women experiencing a miscarriage, need to talk about their losses and their feelings and need someone to care and listen to them. Many times, fathers are overlooked in the midst of a miscarriage and all the sympathy is expressed towards the mother. It’s crucial that fathers get emotional support as well. It’s very important for parents to communicate their feelings to one another, as well as for the father to reach out to a close friend or even a counselor, if necessary. Fathers can get depressed, too, following a miscarriage and need support.