[Editor's Note: We are so sorry if you've experienced the loss of a child. We pray that you will find encouragement for your marriage through this article and experience hope in your hurt through this article written by Gretchen, our founder, about her miscarriage.]
I never know how to start an article on miscarriage, because it is both painful and awkward. Because you're reading an article on how to support your husband, I assume you've experienced a miscarriage. I hate that. I’m sorry.
Every miscarriage is unique, and each person experiences it differently. So, I want to acknowledge how difficult it is for me, as a male, to enter a female space to offer advice. This is especially true when I know you are suffering. So thank you for inviting me into your space to speak to you in the midst of your suffering.
Miscarriage and Marriage
Miscarriage brings unique challenges for both mothers and fathers. As a mother, certain aspects of miscarriage are often (though not always) apparent. You were pregnant. Your body carried the baby. You experienced the physical changes, pains, and procedures that can accompany such loss. But your suffering is not limited to what’s going on in your body and mind.
You’re concerned for your husband. You don’t know how he’s doing with all this. You want to know: Is he sad, hurting, afraid? What's he thinking? Those questions leave you wondering, What does it look like to help my husband? That question is good, normal, and natural. You want him to grieve with you, to share the sorrow with you. But you don’t know what to say, what to ask. Allow me to offer a few ways to begin supporting your husband as he supports you.
Remember that talking about miscarriage is awkward
It's worth repeating: a miscarriage conversation can be an awkward conversation. One way to deal with that is to simply admit it. Embrace the awkwardness. Let him know that you don't know what to say or what to do. Tell him it's okay if he feels the same way.
Do what you can to ease the discomfort. Consider a setting that is comfortable for your husband. It’s not uncommon for a man to clam up when seated across from someone looking him in the eye and asking him to bare his soul. But the same man will begin to open his heart when he’s looking out the windshield of a car or walking side-by-side with a friend. There is something about not having someone staring into his soul that brings a sense of safety.
Observe his conversation patterns. Ask him his preferences. Likewise, don't be afraid to request a good setting for you when you’re sharing with him. Talking about miscarriage is awkward. It’s okay to grieve in different ways, at different paces, in different spaces.
Invite him to grieve the miscarriage with you
Few life events are as confusing for a man as navigating a miscarriage. It doesn’t come with an instruction manual (not that we’d read it if it did). Miscarriage, for obvious reasons, is understood as a mother’s loss. It is a mother’s loss. But too often, that develops into the unfortunate belief that miscarriage is solely a mother's loss, not the father's. Because of this, many fathers don’t feel permission to grieve.
Your husband, the father of your lost child, may need an invitation to weep. He needs to know that experiencing this as his loss is not an insult to you. In fact, it honors you. “This was our baby. This is our loss. It's okay for both of us to be sad.” Hearing that from you can bring needed relief. "It's okay to cry or to be alone. It's okay to take time off work to be at home with me this week.” Such acknowledgments offer him permission to experience the loss of your offspring.
Invite him to share with you
Regrettably, many men do not know how to process any grief, particularly the loss of a child in the womb. Miscarriage simply isn’t talked about among men. So, the first miscarriage that many men ever think about is that of their own child. He needs to share his grief, but he likely needs help.
You conceived this child together. You expected to raise this child together. So it's only fitting that you share the loss together. Ask him to listen as you share what’s going on inside you. Sometimes we learn how to do a thing by watching another do it. Give him permission to receive your words in silence. If he doesn't know what to say, that's okay. Your vulnerability helps him, even if you can't quite see how.
Ask questions to draw out his heart with no expectation of an immediate response. What were you looking forward to with this baby? How does it make you feel to think about that? Do you feel any embarrassment or shame? How are you thinking about going back to church or work? Are you hopeful or discouraged? Do you feel sad or weak? Even if such questions are met with silence, they offer a starting point for reflection. That will bear fruit in time.
Encourage him to seek help (or seek it for him)
A husband will feel a proper desire to protect and provide for his wife, especially in suffering. Often husbands approach miscarriage believing that their grief should not be as deep as their wives. He is responsible for caring for her. This is no time for him to need care for himself. To weep feels weak and selfish when she needs his strength and selflessness.
While fathers may be free to help their wives in many ways, it does not mean they need no help themselves. It's okay for him to pick up the slack for his wife, but not at the expense of experiencing the loss. It’s easy to hide and avoid the grieving process through busyness.
Encourage your husband to seek practical help from church, family, and friends. Let others bring and prepare meals, taxi the kids, and do the laundry. Ask him to sit and pray with you. Urge him to seek emotional support from men who understand the loss. Support him in seeking spiritual care from a pastor or trusted spiritual mentor. An emotionally healthy husband is good for you. So, when people ask what you need, don’t be afraid to say, “I need someone to talk to my husband.”
You can trust Jesus with your husband
Perhaps the most important thing you can do for your husband is to remember that you are not his savior. You’re concerned for your husband. You may even be worried about your marriage. It’s tempting to believe that it’s your responsibility to make everything okay. The last thing I want to do in an article for suffering women is lay another burden on your shoulders.
Jesus loves you both deeply. He knows what it is like to be where you are. After all, he became “like his brothers and sisters in every way” (Heb 2:17 CSB). Therefore, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15 CSB). Every pain we’ve felt, he’s endured. And every way we’ve failed in the temptations of suffering, he’s succeeded. He died on the cross and rose from the dead so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be transformed into his glorious image. Jesus is the only Savior sufficient to carry you and your husband.
You don’t need to save your husband, and you don’t need your husband to save you. You can trust Jesus to hold you, hold your husband, and hold your marriage. Remind yourself of that truth, and remind your husband. Put your grief journey and your husband’s in the hands of the One who catches every tear and will one day wipe them all away.
Meet the Author
Eric Schumacher is an author, podcaster, songwriter, and pastor. He co-hosts the Worthy podcast with Elyse Fitzpatrick, with whom he co-authored Worthy: Celebrating the Value of Women and Jesus & Gender: Living as Sisters and Brothers in Christ. He is also the author of My Last Name (a novella) and Ours: Biblical Comfort for Men Grieving Miscarriage. Eric and his wife Jenny live in Iowa with their five children.