Are you looking for help when it comes to men and miscarriages? It’s important that in cases of miscarriage we do not forget to look at how men are emotionally impacted by this loss and to offer them the support they too, need. The focus will be more on the woman and the man’s experience will be seen as secondary. Their experience may well be different from their partner’s, and this may increase the sense that it is secondary. Guys are likely to see themselves as having to be strong in these situations and showing vulnerability and distress as failing in their role as supporters.
However, many men can experience an acute emotional response to the loss of a pregnancy, and it is important to create space for their own experience. When it comes to men and miscarraige, they also experience sadness, stress, anxiety, and depression after their partner miscarries. Men often choose to hide their emotions and do not necessarily present their grief in a way that others recognise. If a man is suffering from grief, he doesn’t necessarily cry, instead, he will stay silent, turning to work to cope or often alcohol.
Men and miscarriage: normalising feelings and emotions
What is normal and indeed healthy in this situation will in fact be a broad range of things, normalising is another tool that is very helpful. Knowing what we are experiencing is normal leads to us developing greater distress tolerance and reduces the likelihood of maladaptive acting out. We cope better by being able to tell ourselves that this is just part of the experience. If a man is suffering from grief, he doesn’t necessarily cry, the range of things that might occur are:
- Loss and loneliness
- Anger and sadness
- Numbing out through grief
- Loss of libido or the opposite hyper-sexual responses
- Feeling of guilt or the opposite displacement into blame
- Problems with sleep, mood, emotional regulation, appetite, motivation, having a general sense of dread, not seeing a hopeful future
- Struggles in the relationship as you seem to separate from each other in the hurt and loss
Build support networks outside of your relationship
Look for support networks outside of your relationship, it’s so important to have a range of support options. Whilst talking about the loss of a baby may seem an intensely private thing, we are social animals that need the support of others. Talking to someone who you trust can help you feel less alone, and it can sometimes help things feel easier to deal with. Without a doubt the best therapy in life is the company and support of other humans that we care about and who care about us. The herd is where we feel safe and where we get the most boosts from in terms of our health and wellbeing.
For men this is often the best approach, not dealing with the problem head-on but in a roundabout way by having a good social time with mates. Often guys will open up during these contacts but arranging to meet a mate to discuss their difficult feelings can often seem alien and indeed could be counterproductive. Activity-based support often works better for men, the distraction of the activity reduces the tension of dealing with challenging feelings, particularly if, as is likely the case with miscarriage, there may be significant feelings of failure and shame.
How to heal as a couple after miscarriage
Acceptance and forgiveness are key for getting through difficult times as a general rule and it’s only natural that a relationship can be under strain because of an event that was out of their control and the struggle is a response to that event, in this case, the miscarriage. Accept together that this is going to be a struggle and learn to listen to each other. It’s much better to listen than try to help or fix it. Active listening to someone validates them and lets them know you care enough to understand them. This is a skill that can be learned and practiced.
Honesty about how difficult the loss is for a man is often very helpful to his partner. Many men don’t intuit this because culturally they are not brought up so, but actually revealing that you are struggling will help your partner and can in fact potentially reduce their own sense of failure and isolation. Though this won’t be true in all cases, in general, this can be helpful. In this way, the likelihood of the relationship breaking up, which is the guy’s greatest fear, is reduced. Male psychology as culturally programmed, is to be of use, to be able to provide and do stuff, the more intangible support such as ‘being’ rather ‘doing’ can be experienced in an awkward manner. It’s an important skill in this though, as loss is more of a natural process that needs little actual intervention as such, and more of a support approach as we pass through its stages.
Article by Noel McDermott, psychotherapist
Noel McDermott is a psychotherapist with over 25 years of industry experience. Passionate about bringing high-quality care and support to vulnerable people, he is an advocate of community care and the power of a stepped care model within the community.