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 features 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.
Guest post by Trevor Bowen
Nothing has left me feeling more helpless as a husband than the loss of our child through miscarriage. Nothing could have prepared me for the pain I felt, and the unbelievable grief and desperation my wife, Krystle, experienced. I had no words of comfort, no sense of understanding, and no relief from guilt.
This was by far the hardest thing for me to overcome. I took it very personally.
Even now, the haunting emotions come back to me: I must have dishonored or displeased God, and I was not worthy of being a dad. This guilt can be extremely debilitating, and for a time it even hindered my relationships with God and my wife.
We had lost a child, yes, but there was something to be said for the fact that we’d never met “her.” (In our case, though we lost her early in the process we were certain she was a girl.)
I’m certain this was different for my wife, but without a proper introduction to my child I didn’t feel the same kind of tie or loss that I expected. I felt loss, for sure, but mostly I struggled with the why questions:
Why did this happen?
Why did we lose her?
What did we do wrong?
What did I do wrong?
What was God trying to say to us?
How do we recover from this?
WILL WE recover from this?
What else will be taken from us?
Will we ever be able to have more children?
These questions and the accompanying emotions left me feeling isolated and despondent. I felt despondency in myself, and I sensed it deeply in Krystle.
I wish I had known some things. I wish I had known:
- This kind of thing happens a lot—to a lot of people.
- I wasn’t alone in my emotions.
- It was ok to not know how to comfort my wife.
- It was ok to grieve as a man.
- It was normal to not have answers.
- There were people I could talk to and should talk to.
- There were people Krystle could talk to and should talk to.
If I could have a heart-to-heart with a man experiencing miscarriage, this is what I’d say: Miscarriage has the very real potential to damage a marriage. I have discovered that when death hits—the death of anything—there’s a sense of separation and loneliness that follows.
In light of this, I would implore you in the following ways:
- It’s imperative you muster up the courage, humility, and vulnerability to seek counsel.
- It’s critical you take time to process, both individually and together.
- It’s normal for this process to take a very long time.
And finally, I’d like to leave you with some things I learned:
God really doesn’t hate me.
All of our stories—especially the ones with great doubt and grief—are ours to share. The loss we feel can, and will, be the source of a healing balm for someone else down the road if we are willing.
Marriage is hard and dealing with death is hard. We cannot do this alone.
People will say stupid things. They don’t mean it and they don’t know what they are saying.
God promises to restore—and he will. We just don’t know how and we may need to wait. Even, at times, for quite a while.
Trevor Bowen is Pastor of Worship Ministries at Medford First Church of the Nazarene in Southern Oregon. His passion is to grow teams and create environments where people can encounter the truth of God’s unfailing love. And he likes making music—that part is pretty cool too. Trevor has led worship in churches, schools, camps, and retreats for more than 20 years. He is married to his best friend, Krystle, Author of Edge of Wild: Encouragement for Foster Parents, and they enjoy adventuring with their three young boys. When he grows up, Trevor wants to work at Disneyland.
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.)
Miscarriage Stories and Resource page
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
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Featured photo by whoislimos on Unsplash
Martha Napoli30 July 2018 at 3:25 pm
You are just brilliant. I totally agree with you. I also think miscarriage is not a “women’s issue”—it’s a family issue, a human issue. Your article is really helpful to 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. Thanks for the sharing this encouraging article and I will must share it to others.