Bereaved mothers tend to have more options when it comes to support, and their grief is often seen as the greater one. Her grief is generally more visible and therefore more supported.
Partners need support, too. They may not have carried the baby or been as connected to the pregnancy yet, but they are still very much affected. In today’s episode you will learn how to understand how grief can look different and what to do to help navigate life after loss with the men in your life.
If you are in a same sex couple or you don’t feel like you fit the stereotypical masculine/feminine responses, this episode is still for you. Each tool I teach for life after miscarriage, stillbirth or any kind of babyloss can be applied to your unique situation.
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Music by ZingDog on Pond5
Welcome to today’s episode. I am really excited to talk about men and miscarriage and stillbirth and grief and all of that. First, I gotta tell you really quickly, I have opened up for enrollment My Peace in My Pocket Program, and what this is, is it is voice and text messaging support that works around your schedule.
This. Summer, I have kids at home. You probably have kids at home. There’s vacations, there’s holidays, there’s all kind of stuff going on, and I wanted to make something that would be really, really flexible. Have you ever wished that you just had like a best friend who had all the perfect advice and was always there when you needed them and never judged you and just loved you unconditionally, and you could just talk about anything, anytime.
That’s what this program is for you. What you’re gonna do is get a free app. It has voice and text messaging. It’s kind of like a walkie-talkie. And anytime you need advice or you’re struggling or you just wanna talk something through, I will be there. We will meet once, uh, on Zoom and just get to know each other and get everything set up.
And then you have the whole summer to just reach out when you need me and I will reach out to and check on you. Cause I know sometimes it’s hard to reach out, but. This is a special opportunity. You don’t need to feel awkward reaching out. It’s for you. So I only have 10 spots open for this. It’s gonna be so good, and it is only $97.
You guys. I want this to be really simple, really easy, and really fun. Even though we talk about grief, we’re gonna have fun together. Just chatting back and forth. So go to smooth Stones coaching.com/peace. You will find all the information and you can sign up right there and get started. Let’s talk about men.
Now, the first thing I have to say is I try to be really inclusive on this podcast. Really have it be open to everyone. So when I say men, when I say husband, I understand that people identify differently. People have different types of relationships. There’s a lot of stereotypes, right about. Men or masculine people, I want you to feel included.
If you don’t have a man in your life, I still want you to listen and learn the concepts because I think they will be helpful no matter where you are and what kind of relationships you are in. So these could apply to other men in your life. Um, Fathers brothers, you know, anyone that you’re dealing with that is in a stereotypical male fashion of grieving.
So let’s get started. I hope that made sense. I just want everyone to feel welcome. But since I’m talking about men this week, I am gonna say, man, I am gonna say husband, I am gonna say partner. Um, please just fill in the blank for yourself. Let’s talk about those stereotypes. What do we think about men?
They are fixers a lot of times. You know, if you come to them with a problem, they’re gonna try to fix it. And a lot of people don’t like that. They can be unemotional, like they do not express very many emotions. Or a lot of times their emotion is anger. They tend to. Get angry easier or quicker. Another stereotype is they move on faster than we do in grief, that they don’t think about the baby as much, right?
They don’t show outwardly that they’re sad or that they’re grieving. A lot of times they have to go back to work or they’re just busy. They wanna stay busy, and it seems like. They’re not really grieving that they’re just fine and it’s not a big deal for them. I think especially if you had an earlier loss, a lot of times it can feel like maybe he didn’t even care.
Like he wasn’t even really connected to this baby the way you were. So I heard one time, I think I read it in an article on Still Standing Magazine, which I think that still exists, but it was a great resource when I first lost Lauren. But it talked about how men put their grief in a box on a shelf, so they have the grief, it’s there, but a lot of times what they want to do is put it in a box and put it on a shelf, and they only wanna look at it when they look at it.
Right. So they, they’re not like us. I would say that again, stereotypically women would have their grief, like a blanket, like they’re wrapped in it all the time. It’s affecting everything around them. Um, it’s, it’s a constant, but men like to put it in a box on a shelf. And I was gonna ask you about this subject, like what are people struggling with and their relationships, um, the men in their life and the grief.
And if you don’t follow me on Instagram, I’m at Amy dot Smooth Stones Coaching, you gotta go follow me. Cause we have tons of conversations over there. Lots of good stuff. But, uh, someone responded to me and I, I thank her so much and said that kind of. In the busyness of life after their baby had died, it seemed like he didn’t care and what she really needed was for him to grieve beside her.
And this is really common. I was actually just coaching a client on this the other day, but as we do here, I want you to notice how this kind of thought affects you. So how do you feel? When you think I really need him to grieve beside me, how do you show up in your relationship and what is your result?
What I see most often is this desire for him to be exactly where you are so that you can be on the same page and feel like you’re connected is actually very disconnecting because you are giving all your power to him, all the power over your emotions, over your grieving process, all of it, and you are putting all these expectations on him.
And you are only allowing yourself to believe you are grieving beside each other if it looks the way you picture it in your head. So I want you to open up your mind and open up your heart. You have to question these things or you will stay stuck and continue trying to change him, feeling more and more disconnected and miserable, and I.
I think that this is the reason some relationships don’t make it is because we have this vision of how it’s supposed to be, how we’re supposed to be connected in our grief. And when he’s not doing that, um, and the more you try to make him do that, the more you just push each other apart and it, it can be really, really hard.
So anyone listening who has had that happen? I want you to know that I’m thinking about you for sure. I wanted to read this poem. And it is by Eileen Knight, Haga. Meister. It says, it must be very difficult to be a man in grief since men don’t cry and men are strong, no tears can bring relief. It must be very difficult to stand up to the test and field calls and visitors so she can get some rest.
They always ask if she’s all right and what she’s going through. But seldom take his hand and ask my friend, but how are you? He hears her crying in the night and thinks his heart will break. He dries her tears and comforts her, but stays strong for her sake. It must be very difficult to start each day anew and try to be so very brave.
He’d lost his baby too. Uh, that would always, I feel like I cry every time I read that. Um, it is. So true, right? Like he’s there trying to be strong and trying to deal with this thing. We know that none of us are equipped for this. Most of us are very surprised. We are just not expecting for grief to smack is in the face, in the middle of building our families, right?
And. And I think you gotta think about it from his perspective. And this was written by a mother about her son who was, um, grieving the loss of his baby. And I just think it’s so special and it’s always been really powerful to me, um, to give that perspective of what the men in her lives are dealing with.
So what if instead of wishing your man would grieve differently, you had complete compassion and love and admiration of them and their process, what would be different for you? What if you believed he’s doing the best he can? What if you took responsibility for your own emotions instead of expecting him to make you feel better?
He can’t make you feel better. He doesn’t have that power your. Feelings come from your thoughts. Your connection with him comes from your thoughts. You always have a choice. Two things I wanna make sure to touch on as I talk about this, because I know a lot of, you’re probably wondering, is this really true?
Like, does it really not matter what he does? And it’s all up to me? Well, it is true, but here’s the deal. First, when you are grieving, you have to recognize that you are extra sensitive. You are feeling like you don’t have an anchor, and you really want your partner to be that person because. They are the only one who has been through this with you, so it seems obvious that they should be the one to help you with your grief, and when it seems like they aren’t being that person, it feels really like a betrayal.
You have to recognize that you are thinking differently in grief brain. It’s like when you are feeling that time of the month where the way he breathes is just about to send you straight out the door and over the next hill never to return. If you pay attention to your cycle, you’re gonna start recognizing that, and when it comes up, you can see it for what it is.
It’s your brain on hormones. Well, your brain on grief is also so tender and easily hurt, and it doesn’t feel like it’s possible to take responsibility for your emotions, but I promise you, you can. Your grief brain is not weak. It just needs to be loved and understood. Notice where it desperately wants to be saved, like a damsel in distress.
It’s like you’re waiting miserable in a tower for your prints to come and fix your life, but you’re not a helpless damsel. And guess what? There’s a set of stairs right outside that you can walk down any time you want to find freedom. Even when you’re grieving, it looks a little bit like this. We’re totally in this together.
We don’t grieve the same, but I know he’s always there for me. We don’t even have to talk about this ever. That’s how connected we are. I love my husband exactly as he is. I have needs in my grief, and I’m the one who can take care of them. Right? That’s one of my favorite. I mean, look at the difference. We don’t even have to talk about this ever.
That’s how connected we are because so many people have the story that we never talk about this. We’re so disconnected, right? He doesn’t care. He doesn’t think about it. He never thinks about our baby. He doesn’t understand me. We have this whole painful story we’ve built. But what if you are like proud of yourselves?
Cuz look at you. You’re so connected. You just both understand that you’re both grieving in your own way and you love each other. And it’s totally fine. The second thing I want you to know is that just because you are going to take responsibility for your feelings doesn’t mean that you don’t make requests of your partner.
You absolutely can, but first you need to clean up your thinking, so get to the point where you don’t need him to do anything, but you can want him to. You also need to be clean in the fact that you can make requests and he might not do them. He might not want to, or he might not be able to, or he might try to do what you asked and then go back to his old habits.
You have to be okay with all of that. For example, he might not like going to the Remembrance walk in October. You go alone one year and you feel awful, abandoned, unsupported, and heartbroken. You’re holding back your tears the entire time. You make it mean all kinds of things about your relationship.
Where it is, where it’s going, and why he won’t come with you When you have told him how important it is that he’d be there, you feel sad about your baby, sad about your marriage, and totally disconnected, and you carry that pain with you for a long, long time afterwards. But now you have learned about managing your mind.
You know that you get to choose your emotions. You know that his actions are your circumstances. You have let go of the pain and have forgiven him because it feels so much lighter to you, even though he never apologized. But you really want him to come this time. You do some self coaching before bringing it up.
You look at the reasons you want him to be there with you. You get clean on believing that he just gets to make his choices. You come into this conversation confident and loving, and he still doesn’t want to go. Being there makes him sad and he doesn’t know that it’s his thoughts that make him sad yet, but that is okay.
He doesn’t like being at the Remembrance walk. But he has another idea of taking the family out for ice cream. Afterwards, you have a great conversation and get more understanding of each other, and you text your support group friends and make plans to meet up with them. You have some clean pain, missing your husband and missing your baby, and clean pain is just that natural pain.
We are not trying to get rid of all pain, especially when we’re grieving. We are learning to just keep the pain. Clean and useful clean pain moves you forward. And the opposite is dirty pain, which is all the pain of what you’re making it mean and about you and your husband and your relationship. Okay? So you can have that pain.
You can be sad he’s not there. Totally fine, but there’s no drama. Can you see the difference? And you both have a beautiful day honoring your baby in your own way. You get some delicious triple chocolate ice cream after and you gently end your day together. You wake up the next day feeling even closer to your partner.
Can you see that? Even though the circumstance actually stays the same, which is your husband won’t go to the remembrance walk with you. How different this all feels when you take care of yourself, and he will probably notice a difference in you too. He’s, there’s no cold shoulder, there’s no blame, there’s no like crying yourself to sleep mad at him.
Just support for him. And his grieving process. It’s not easy to say no. When you love someone, you can be proud of him for owning his experience and expressing what he wants. It’s a sign of how connected you are, not the opposite. If you choose on purpose to take it that way. So as we wrap this up, I want to just give you a few more tips on how to honor the men in your life and how they grieve on Father’s Day and every day.
Number one, respect the way they grieve. They are dealing with a lot of socialization that takes away so many tools that we have as women. Now our way isn’t better than theirs. Both ways are valid. Both ways are good. Let him grieve how he wants. Number two, listen more than you talk. I think this is good advice always, but especially with men in grief, they may not wanna talk as much, but if and when they do, be the kind of partner who makes that safe for them, just like you don’t wanna be fixed.
They don’t wanna be either number three. If you’re wondering what to do for your man on Father’s Day, ask him. I’ve seen so many people asking in Facebook groups what they should do, and if you’ve been listening for a while, you know how I feel about crowdsourcing answers on Facebook groups. Just don’t do it.
But why not talk to him? We have some sort of belief that it’s more meaningful if you surprise someone with exactly the right thing by reading their mind, but I don’t agree. Just ask. It’s so much easier. Also, steak and apple pie usually work too. At least at my house. I know that that’s always gonna be a winner.
Number four, don’t put the burden of your emotions on them. You need to create your own village, someone you have fun with, someone you cry with. Someone who will drop off your favorite beverage when you’re having a bad day, someone who knows grief and can help you the way you wish your husband would.
That is what I’m here for. When you have a coach, you get that person who listens, loves unconditionally and never judges you. And helps you feel better by showing you how. Then when you’re with your spouse, you just get to love him. How much lighter would your relationship be if you didn’t expect him to be everything for you?
And if you’re in a place where you feel like your grief is really affecting your relationship, I highly encourage you to go in the show notes. Sign up for a connection call, come and talk to me, and I will show you how taking care of yourself is going to improve your relationship like so quickly. It’s amazing what happens when you start taking responsibility for your own emo.
And number five. Finally, if you feel like your husband is over it already and he wants you to be there too, it’s okay. Learn to love being wrong. We talked about this last week. Always question your thoughts. He’s probably not over it. He just doesn’t show it in the same way. And if he seems like he wants you to be better, again, it’s because he lives in the same society We do.
We are not comfortable with uncomfortable emotions. He wants you to be happy because he believes that that would be better and that it would be better for him. Everything we do is because of how it will make us feel. And that goes for your husband too. He wants you to feel better so he can feel better.
But a lot of us, we don’t even realize that’s why we’re doing it. But that is why we do anything is because how we think it will make us feel. So you can show him that you are handling your grief just fine when you take back control, get the right kind of support, and are confident even in the messiness of it all.
Even if you feel lost, know that you’re going to live your life. It’s all going the way it’s supposed to be. Have radical empathy for the men in your life. Believe they’re doing the best they can, even on the bad days, and especially on the bad days. And remember that you both will evolve. For me, I love when partners.
Of any kind, get to support each other and take turns being more emotional or less, more able to get things done or more needing to stay in bed all day, more talkative or less talkative. It’s all part of learning to live with another human and it is a beautiful thing, so let it be beautiful. Let it be how it’s supposed to be and stop telling yourself the story that everything is going wrong.
Now, I know there are some of you listening who don’t have a partner or who feel like grief broke you apart to you. I send so much love again. I’m so sorry. I promise you that if you do the work to really take care of yourself and you find peace around what’s happened in your life, you can find love again.
It might be with you, with someone else or for your ex, but love is the most beautiful emotion and it’s one worth working towards. It’s okay to let go of that pain you’ve been carrying. Your partner is grieving beside you. Always choose to believe it. Make requests when you need to take care of you.
Listen more than you speak, even when he doesn’t talk much. Allow this to be an experience that bonds you as much as grief can be difficult on a marriage, and there’s a lot of messaging out there that will tell you that you don’t have to believe it. Grief can also be like a welding together if you let it.
And if that isn’t the case for, you, know that you always have options to repair or let the relationship go, but do your work First, I have to tell you, I love men. I respect men. I’m so grateful for the men in my life, and none of them are perfect and I am not perfect. But when we can just love each other in all of our differences and our similarities and our imperfectness and in our strengths, life is just so much better.
I’m sending love to all the incredible fathers out there and love to you. I hope you have a really special day this weekend, and. I hope you’ll come and talk to me. If this episode has really touched you, please take a second and leave a review. It means so much to me and it really helps people find the podcast.
I’ll see you next time. Are you tired of feeling like your baby dad was somehow your fault? Go to Smooth Stones coaching.com and get my free mini course. How to Stop Blaming Yourself After Loss.