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What Can I Say To My Wife?
Written by Clara Hinton   |  Feb 11, 2002
When child loss occurs, especially an early loss such as a miscarriage, stillbirth, or an ectopic pregnancy, a mother suffers a double blow. She not only has to work through the emotional grief of the loss, but she has to work through the physical grief—the grief she feels as her body changes back to a non-pregnant state. Often, this is a difficult thing for a father to understand.

Fathers grieve the loss of a baby, too, but their grief is somewhat different than that of the mother of the baby. This is not to say that fathers grieve “wrong” or that a father’s grief is any less painful. It simply means that a father will grieve in a masculine way. He does not have the physical “body grief” symptoms to work through that a mother will experience.

Fathers do not have to grieve the return of menstruation. They do not have to experience the symptoms of hormone levels returning to “normal”, which in this case means “not pregnant.” A father does not have to undergo a physical examination by a doctor. A woman often feels guilty, inferior, and somewhat of a failure following child loss. The last thing she wants is to have her body examined by a doctor, and yet, for health reasons, this must be done.

Fathers do not have to deal with tender, leaky breasts, or a swollen uterus that must now return to a normal, non-pregnant size. The physical grief for a woman following a miscarriage or other early child loss can complicate a mother’s grief. Even though the physical symptoms generally leave in 4 – 6 weeks, it could take a woman 6 months or longer to accept the reality of the loss.

In a husband’s desire to help his wife through this difficult journey of child loss that we call grief, he might enthusiastically say, “Honey, you should stop crying. Remember—you can always have more!” This phrase will many times do more harm than good to the mother.

When a woman is going through the double grief of losing a child—the physical and the emotional grief—it is often too much for her to handle the thoughts of going through trying to have a baby just yet. There are women who are consumed with the thoughts of having another baby, but to hear the words “You can always have more” only seems to bring tears.

What can a husband say that will help? It is always a good idea to tell your wife that you are hurting from this loss, too. She needs to hear those words. She also needs to hear the words “I love you” spoken to her. Child loss is a time of self-doubt for a woman. She feels like her body has failed, and she is in need of her husband’s loving affirmation that he still cares about her.

A husband can also say, “I wish I could take all of this pain away, but I can’t.” Ask her about the physical grief she is experiencing. Ask how her body feels. Has the nausea left? Is she real tired? Is she experiencing a lot of cramps with her menstrual period? Get involved with both the physical and the emotional aspects of grief.

As a husband walks through the grief of child loss together with his wife, the two will be drawn closer together. The marriage will grow stronger as communication skills improve. Soon, the hard work of grief will seem less difficult because both husband and wife are working together on this difficult journey we call grief.
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