There’s no pain like kid pain.
For too many parents out there they know this to be true. Statistics indicate that one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage and for many when they hear that number it knocks them back. Think about it, if you are at dinner with three other couples it is highly likely that one of them have experienced this pain.
Now consider this – 1 in 4 men will experience grief as well but how often is it acknowledged? As men we often push through the hard times as we want to be strong for those around us. While that is noble there is tremendous value in understanding your feelings and processing them with your spouse. Remember, there’s no pain like kid pain.
In this episode, Chris unpacks the story of how he and his wife lost two babies in the recent years. How do you respond to God in your Job-like moments in life?Listen Now
Here are a few items to help with moving forward.
- Grieve with your wife – this sounds simple, but it can be the hardest area to embrace. She needs to see you grieve. Couples that grieve together grow together. This does not make you a weak man and is a necessary step in the healing process. You will find that taking the time to share the hurt will bring you closer as a couple. Talk about your feelings with her and listen when she talks. Being present and vulnerable are critical to remember.
- Name your baby – as Christian men we know that at the moment of conception God breathed life into our children. The world may not recognize them as a “person” until delivery, but we know better. God is knitting them together in the womb and sometimes His plan is to complete the knitting in Heaven. One item that will help as you talk about it in the future is to use your baby’s name. In the case where a child is lost prior to knowing the gender you have a few choices. You can go with a gender-neutral name or your wife may have a sense of what the sex was. In either case pick a name together and make sure you honor their name in the future.
- Protect your wife from others – as men we are wired to provide and protect. When child loss occurs be tuned in to the types of advice or counsel your spouse is getting from others. Often people simply do not understand and in those cases, they may cause more harm than good. Grieving timelines look different for everyone and as her husband be on the ready to step in to be the shield she needs during this difficult time.
- Existing kids process grief differently – children are resilient, and you will likely find that they are able to process a loss much easier than you. This is particularly true if they are younger and if the child is lost early in the pregnancy (1st trimester). However, you need to give them the time and attention necessary to move forward. Hear them out and see what they are struggling with the most. To them the lost hope of a baby brother or sister coming home could impact them greatly. Be intentional about showing up for them during this time.
- Extended family will grieve – when child loss occurs it impacts grandparents, aunts, and uncles as well. Just as with existing children, they were anticipating the arrival of a new member of the family, and it can be gut wrenching for them as well. The main thing to remember is to let them be part of the grieving process. It may help them tremendously to be with you during this time to share in the loss together. Some may want to do something like cook/clean. When possible, let them do these things and remember they are hurting with you.
- Set boundaries so you’re not grief counselor for others – as you work through processing the loss with your wife pay attention to other relationships that may cause you (or your wife) to struggle. While you want to respect others you do need to establish boundaries on what you will disclose and what you won’t. Loss like this can be difficult enough and getting those rules in place will set you up to head off potential headwinds down the road.
In 2008, Angie Smith and her husband Todd (lead singer of the group Selah) learned through ultrasound that their fourth daughter had conditions making her “incompatible with life.” Advised to terminate the pregnancy, the Smiths chose instead to carry this child and allow room for a miracle. That miracle came the day they met Audrey Caroline and got the chance to love her for the precious two-and-a-half hours she lived…Book of the Week
- Make tributes/memorial items – this can truly help the grieving process. TIP: do not do these items until you are ready. Great examples of this would be to plant trees, create art or build shadow boxes. Whatever the item you decide on be sure to do it with the family. Let them be part of this process as it will be yet another step towards healing in the future.
- Find a counselor to help – God has ordained everyone with different gifts and Christian counselors can provide guidance during this process. Cross reference the credentials and see if they have experience counseling others with your specific circumstances. Professional help could provide great value, insight, and tools to aide during this time. It is not showing weakness to get professional support and it could be a tremendous blessing.
- Share your grief and let others love on you – remember that during your time of loss that those around you are hurting too. You will be surprised at how many people will reveal to you they experienced similar losses when this occurs. Again, 1 in 4 means a tremendous amount of people are impacted. Churches, neighbors, and friends want to show love during these times. Keeping your story in your back pocket will not help others move forward. When the timing is right, and you are ready share what you feel is appropriate and always remember to honor your lost child.
- Trust God & pray – when child loss occurs the first question often asked is “Why God”? Truth be told that this side of heaven we will never understand. What we must do is trust in Him always. It is during trials that we can either run away from God or cling to Him. He is your Heavenly Father and take comfort in knowing that when your child opened their eyes, they saw Jesus. As you pray through circumstances like this do so with your spouse. Take your prayers to Him and find the comfort that only He can provide.
If you have experienced child loss it is our hope that something in this article brings comfort. We would love to pray for you and be an ear for support. Join the Lion’s Den and send us a message. As a Lion you do not have to grieve alone, and we would love to provide support and encouragement. Remember to take it one day at a time and let the Holy Spirit provide comfort that only comes from having a personal relationship with Jesus.