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He Will Never Understand!
Written by Clara Hinton   |  Nov 28, 2001
Child loss is the most painful grief any couple will endure. Having a child die can place a great deal of stress on a marriage, especially when the marriage was already weak and a bit shaky.

Because men and women grieve so differently, there are many misunderstandings within the marriage when a spouse does not express grief over the loss of a child according to your expectations. Women, by nature, are more open with their grief and will work hard to build a support structure of friends. Often, a mother will expect her husband to be at the helm of her support. This places a great amount of tension on the father, and a heavy strain on the marriage.

While men do grieve, most do not show tears, disappointment, or great sadness in front of others. This burden of appearing to be the strong one has placed tremendous pressure on men to hide their feelings, or not to express their feelings of grief and pain at all.

A husband and wife can deeply grieve the loss of their child at the same time, but do so in totally different ways. To a woman, seeing a lack of outward emotion in her husband often leads a woman to believe that her husband will never understand her or the deep, intimate bond she shared with their child. In her lack of understanding of male grieving, a woman will often lash out in anger at her husband wrongly accusing him of never understanding the pain of child loss.

“He doesn’t care about me!” “He doesn’t care about our child.” “He doesn’t care what happens!” A mother commonly feels all of these things when she is in deep grief and is having difficulty communicating her sorrow to her husband.

A husband’s reaction to these unmerited judgments often leads him to become defensive of his actions. It is very easy for a couple to begin experiencing a great deal of communication breakdown during the process of grieving the loss of their child.

How can a couple stay close during this critical time in their lives? The easiest way is to simply talk. “In your anguish, do not push away from each other. Rather, cry together. Share your thoughts and feelings together.” (Silent Grief, chapter 3)

One of the biggest needs of a mother who has experienced child loss is to hear her husband say how much he hurts and misses their child. If he finds it too painful or uncomfortable to actually verbalize the words, writing his feelings down on paper is a great beginning point.

A father’s greatest need during his most difficult hours of grief is to simply allow him to grieve in his own way. Most often he will begin the hard task of grieving by working longer hours, or by creating a work project that might take months to complete. A man will look for very physical ways to express and work through his grief. A woman will spend hours upon hours crying, and has a strong desire to talk to her husband about the many emotions she is experiencing. While both are different grief experiences, neither is more right than the other.

When you feel like your husband will never understand your feelings of pain during child loss, it’s time to sit down and talk. Accept each other’s differences, and remind yourself often that every person has his or her own personal method of grieving. By allowing room for different ways to grieve, you promote a healthy atmosphere within your marriage for healing.
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