Welcome to the Men & Miscarriage Series where we’re exploring how miscarriage impacts men, listening to their stories, and finding ways we can support them in their grief. Miscarriage is not a “women’s issue”—it’s a family issue, a human issue. When we minimize miscarriage as a women’s issue only, we reinforce the notion that women are the only ones affected by this type of loss, which simply isn’t true. The Men and Miscarriage Series will feature contributions by both men and women. I’m especially excited to help set the stage to give space to the voices often unheard in conversations surrounding fertility and pregnancy loss: the voices of men—fathers and grandfathers who have lost and learned to give expression to their grief, and have learned to grieve with hope, despite what cultural norms surrounding masculinity have instructed them. Together may we discover ways to normalize this grief and find our way forward.
Please note: If you’d like to read further, you can also pick up a copy my book, Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss, which includes a special section for dads written by my husband, Ryan.
Supporting men through miscarriage, pregnancy loss, and grief
How can wives and girlfriends help support the men in their lives after a miscarriage, especially knowing the expectations society places on them unfairly as if their grief is unwarranted or less important? (See: Do men and women grieve differently after miscarriage?) How can we ensure men have a place in the conversation and not minimize their perspective or experience? How can we help make this a whole family issue instead of just a women’s issue, and work toward slowly helping to shape culture around this deep pain and need?
1. Understand that men grieve too. Even if you don’t see evidence of it, believe this. Sometimes grief is hard to identify when you’re immersed in it, but as we grow forward we can begin to put language around our experiences. The man in your life may need more or less time to do this and that’s okay.
2. Invite conversation about his grief. Ask open-ended questions and then be gracious whether he chooses to respond or not. Do what you can to keep lines of communication open. Listen to what he says and try to notice what he’s not saying (resisting the temptation to put words in his mouth). Listen to understand.
3. Remember that everyone grieves differently. Give grace for this. Don’t judge the way he chooses to acknowledge or express his grief. Don’t ever accuse him of “not grieving enough” or “not caring enough” or any other kind of “enough” statements. These will never be helpful or productive, and in fact may be hurtful and damaging.
4. Give his grief dignity by not trying to make it look or sound like your own. Validate his experience by validating his feelings.
5. Include him in your updates to friends and help educate others that men’s experiences matter too. ( For example, “Ryan and I are devastated. Please remember to pray for him when you think of me. I know he would appreciate you reaching out to him just as I appreciate you reaching out to me. We’re so grateful for your support.”)
6. Lean in to your marriage or relationship. Don’t pull away. Grief can be incredibly isolating. Take intentional steps to lean in toward each other when it’s hard. Walking through loss and grief together can be one of the most bonding experiences of your life, or it can be something that creates a wedge. So even when it hurts, lean in, turn toward. You need each other and no one else will care as much as your partner does.
7. Try to notice the ways he’s supporting you in your grief. Acknowledge and thank him. I know this is hard when you’re hurting, but do your best to not take him for granted.
8. Write him a card or buy him flowers. Bring him his favorite coffee or buy him a voucher for a massage. Treat him the way you hope he will treat you, but in a way that communicates “I see you and I’m thinking of your needs (not only my own).” (See also: Care package and gift ideas for a friend after miscarriage.)
9. Ask him if there is something he’d like to do to help say goodbye to the baby—a ritual or memorial or something to remember your baby by. Don’t just tell him what you’re doing; include him and create something together based on mutual input. (See also: Memorial ideas for remembering your baby after miscarriage or loss.)
10. Remember him on Father’s Day or other significant days that may be particularly sensitive.
The Men & Miscarriage Series:
Do Men and Women Grieve Differently after Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss?
How to Support the Man You Love after Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss
Lima Beans and Hope in the Freezer Aisle: Miscarriage through the Eyes of a Grandfather
Marriage, Sex, and Intimacy after Miscarriage
From Man to Man after Miscarriage: Honest Talk about Marriage and Loss
(Find the whole series here: Men & Miscarriage Series.)
How to Support a Friend after Miscarriage and Loss
What Not to Say to a Friend after Miscarriage (And What to Say Instead)
How to Grieve with Hope Devotional—A free 7-day devotional on YouVersion Bible app based on Grace Like Scarlett
Book: Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss by Adriel Booker
Pregnancy Loss Community: Find supportive community, a packed resource library, in depth grief support groups, and more at Our Scarlett Stories pregnancy loss community hosted by author Adriel Booker.
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Featured image by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash.
Kat2 April 2020 at 3:39 am
Thank you for writing this. I’ve been trying to find ways to help my husband through our miscarriage and have found very little. There are a ton of articles on how to support your wife but VERY FEW on how to support your husband. It’s crazy to me.
Again, thank you.
Adriel Booker30 April 2020 at 10:54 am
You’re welcome. I’m glad to hear it was helpful. I also have an appendix in my book (Grace Like Scarlett) that my husband wrote for fathers. Truly, they do need more support——I wholeheartedly agree!
Jennifer12 March 2021 at 12:03 am
These are great. I wish I’d known and understood this better in the beginning. I still struggle though because I don’t understand his grief. He’s just starting to kind of talk at all. It’s hard to be patient. Some days I still want to talk about her with my husband but I know he’s not going to do that with me. More information, conversation about how to actually do this would be so helpful.