October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. The grief of losing a child during pregnancy or after birth runs deep and hard for the person who is or was pregnant. It is important to also recognize that the nonpregnant person also has experienced a loss and has to deal with their own grief, as well as supporting the emotions of their partner. Today, Cara Terreri, Giving Birth With Confidence Community Manager shares some resources for grieving fathers. Some of these resources may also be suitable for parents who do not identify as male as well. - Sharon Muza, Science & Sensibility Community Manager.
When a child dies, fathers grieve. Culturally, men grieve in different ways, often because of how they are taught -- or not taught -- to show grief and sadness. Because of the perceived need to "stay strong" and hide emotions, it's imperative that fathers actively seek ways to process and deal with grief over the loss of a child. Fathers can seek comfort in other fathers, see a therapist or counselor, attend an in-person support group, become a member of an online support group, and share their story with others to help to heal by opening up.
Online resources specifically for fathers dealing with infant and child loss can be more difficult to find. The following list may help you or someone you know to begin the process of working through your grief and finding the path to continue everyday living.
Grieving Dads - This site is based on one father's experience of the loss of two children and his subsequent sharing and inviting other dads to share of their losses. Kelly Farley went on to write a book by the same name in which he shares the collected stories of grieving fathers. On the site, you can find blog entries (dating back since 2010) of his experience and those shared by others, an invitation to share your own story (anonymous if desired), and links to his book and one-on-one coaching and workshops.
A Blog for Fathers When a Baby Dies - Another helpful collective of personal grief stories (and sharing through comments) can be found on this blog. Author Tim Nelson began the blog as a way to deal with the loss of his full-term stillborn child, Kathleen.
Daddit Thread - While there isn't a Reddit specific for infant loss support for dads, there is an incredibly helpful thread that shares advice for a dad who has just lost a child. Reddit also has a general pregnancy/infancy/child loss support page.
General Resources - While these resources are not specific to fathers, they offer support and resources for both parents and can be immensely helpful. Find resources and in-person support groups at Pregnancy After Loss Support, Pregnancy Loss and Infant Death Directory, and Share. Find additional resources, and online and phone support at First Candle and on the list of websites shared at Healing Hearts.
Another great resource for friends or family of a father who has experienced loss and are wondering what to do and how to support that parent can check out the simple and to-the-point advice in this article on Huffington Post by author and co-founder of Reconceiving Loss, Tara Shafer.
Childbirth educators can be a significant resource for pregnant or postpartum people who have lost a baby, and also be aware that the nonpregnant person will benefit from resources customized for their needs. Sharing the resources listed here can help them to receive nonjudgmental support that addresses the needs of the father after a pregnancy or infant loss. Do you have additional resources that you would like to add? Let us know in the comments section below.