how a baby born stillborn effects dads too
some dads try to be strong for the sake of their wife or partner but inside emotionally they are also grieving too.When babies are born still, it is hard on Dads in a different way than it is on Moms. Dads I have worked with say things like "I had to be strong for my wife" "I had to hold it together to organise the funeral", "I didn't feel old enough to be a Dad, not to mind a bereaved Dad", "All I kept thinking was I had to go back to work because my wife just couldn't", "I was really afraid that my wife would go mad and I couldn't tell anyone" "I had always depended on my wife to sort things out and all of a sudden I was the one she was depending on. I was afraid to feel anything in case I fell apart." The pressure Dads feel is enormous. They feel that once their baby is born still they are on duty 24/7 with no end in sight.
It is no surprise then that a lot of Dads simply shut down emotionally Every ounce of their energy is poured into "keeping it together" and "keeping the show on the road." This is further compounded when everybody asks you how your wife is and very few people ask you how are you. Dads try to be strong, to be in control and along the way they "forget" how to feel their feelings. They forget that they need to grieve too. Often the Moms then end up feeling shut out and unheard. A silence can grow between the couple, a chasm without a bridge in sight.
If you are a Dad who can recognise yourself in what I have written, I want you to know there is a way to build a bridge. The following are some suggestions about what you can do. Start with small steps. Acknowledge aloud to your wife that you do feel sad but that you can't talk about your feelings just yet. When you are ready maybe you can tell her that you are trying to protect her. Further on again, maybe you can begin to tell her how afraid you are, how you don't want to let her down. Even a little opening on your part will be met with so much love. And even if your wife becomes angry at first, please know that she is angry because she cares. She is angry because she does not know how else to be. She is angry because life has dealt you both a cruel blow. So just listen and love her. Don't get angry back. Together you created your baby out of your love for each other and together you mourn your baby's death. Watch out for the crossroads of your grief where you can meet up and hold each other up. Though you grieve differently your grief is for that same beloved baby. Allow your love for your baby to unite you both together.
Martine Brennan Counselor, Psychotherapist and bereaved Mom