Like any young couple, my wife and I were filled with excitement when we had the chance to announce to our friends, family and church that we were expecting another child. Our oldest son Titus was two years old, and my wife had no complications with that pregnancy, so we just assumed everything would go as planned.
Just a few days after our public announcement we experienced a nightmare that is unfortunately far too familiar to many families. My wife came to me sobbing, and I knew instinctively what the problem was. We had lost the child. The news felt like a tornado ripping through our home, wrecking everything in its path.
I knew what my job as the husband was – to love and comfort my wife as she processed what had happened. I knew that she was going to carry the brunt of this pain in a way I will never understand; so I pushed down whatever emotions I was feeling and tried to be there for her.
This is what many guys do. We can disconnect our emotions and just do the work that has to be done. In hindsight, I can see how that might have done more harm than good. But how was I to know what to do? The topic of miscarriage is talked about very little among women, and even less among men. This is unfortunate because it is unbelievably common. Some statistics say one in every four women will experience the loss of a child.
October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month so I wanted to share what I learned in hopes that it might help some other men who have lost a child.
- Now is not the time to suppress your emotions
As I said, it is easy for us to disconnect. It’s not as though we don’t feel anything, but we can push things down to a place where it is all but forgotten. We have a family to support and a job that demands our attention; we might feel as though we don’t have the time to fall apart emotionally. In my case, this left my wife feeling as though she was grieving alone. She needed to see my emotion and to hear that she was not hurting in isolation.
- Build something
Your wife is going to deal with the emotional pain for much longer than you will. She carried the child inside her and, unfortunately, often feels responsible for the loss of the child. Her wounds understandably take longer to heal when it comes to this issue. I took some time off work, and a few days later, while learning about the loss, I got out my table saw and some wood and started to build. Our Son Titus sat by me with his plastic hammer helping me measure and cut.
A few hours later I had a bench for our deck in the backyard. I called my wife out to see our creation and told her it was a bench made for two kids. She smiled as Titus sat on it and exclaimed, “It’s just the right size for me!” It was a way for me to show that there was still hope, and that we could move forward without forgetting. It still sits on our deck, and it’s still the right size for both our boys. You don’t have to build something but find a way to remember and give hope to your wife at the same time. You might find that it is healing for both of you.
- Answer their spiritual questions
We inherited death because of Adam and Eve’s sin, but we did not inherit their guilt. The child that was lost was innocent and has a home with God. 2 Sam. 12:23 is the only verse that deals specifically with this subject. David lost a child, and he knows that he will eventually be reunited with the child he never knew.
- Just be there
Lastly, I would encourage you to avoid trying to fix this. It can’t be fixed. You can’t understand what she has gone through, and nothing you say or do can undo the pain. But you can be there and simply be present. Don’t escape to work, hobbies or silence. Stay in the trenches with her and fight to reclaim any amount of joy that you can. In time, it gets better. It’s never the same but it does get better.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” Ps. 34:18