Grieving Like a Man
Men are different than women. We aren’t better. We don’t deserve to earn more. But… we’re different. Women speak (on average) approximately 20,000 words per day. We men speak around 7,000. Understandably, we also grieve differently. We don’t necessarily want to talk it out. When it comes to the loss of a child, we also process it differently.
Unlike most men, I am a talker. On a weekly basis, I speak in front of groups that range from 300-800 people at my church. Yet, when it came to our babies, I was at a loss for words. I really just wanted to hold my wife… and be held. People would ask how I was doing, and I would say, “I’m ok.” I returned to work within a week or two each time. I didn’t want to share how I was feeling because nothing I could say would bring my babies back, so I felt like it didn’t make a difference because it didn’t change anything. I might as well move on and get back to work.
For my wife, this was completely different. She literally could not go back to work (doctor’s orders). She needed to take time to recover physically. But she also got to have a bonding experience with each baby that I didn’t get to have. I got to feel our first son kick, but I never got to experience that with our daughter or our second boy. She felt everything though. She felt them moving. She felt her body changing. They had a bond I will never have—a bond that we, as men, will never know or get to experience. She had an experience to talk about.
As men, we mourn the memories that we had created in our head. We want to teach our boys how to throw a baseball and take our girls to daddy daughter dances. We want to hold their hands as we walk them to school. We had all these great memories all ready to go… and they were taken from us before we could make them realities. So while our wives mourn the life inside them, we mourn what could have been.
This is harder to talk about. If you want to see a grown man cry, ask me about the memories I had already formed in the hopes that they’d become realities. I’d prefer just not to talk about it though, and I am sure you wouldn’t either. However, even if we use almost two-thirds less words per day than our wives, it’s important to share these memories (and other feelings) with our wives… but also with guys… especially those who have gone through the same thing. We understand each other. We grieve like each other. And we know that sometimes, there are no words. So men, stop hiding. Stop pretending that you don’t hurt. And talk to someone about all those memories you wished were realities because we honor babies when we talk about them.