Men Coping with Loss
The very awesome Brianna Donnelly has also put together this short piece on the experience of pregnancy loss for men. It might help shine a light on why it can feel like your grief is so different from your partner’s after loss.
Miscarriage occurs in approximately one in four pregnancies. The risk of miscarriage is up to 20% in early pregnancies, occurring before 12-weeks gestation. Miscarriage is emotionally stressful and can lead to immediate and long-term stress reactions including guilt, grief, and depressive symptoms.
Men experience miscarriage in the same way as their partners, however this is not taken into as deep consideration. Men specifically describe feelings of loss, sadness and helplessness, while women report higher distress and depression. Some men describe feeling little to no acknowledgment of their parental loss from healthcare professionals.
Men take on the ‘supporter’ role during these times and tend to deal with loss less openly than their partners. This is due to their social expectation to stay strong and stoic and put their emotional needs aside.
As a result, men tend to cope with this loss through employing distractions and active-avoidance behaviours. Common coping mechanisms reported by Australian men include:
- Distractions, such as increased alcohol use
- Memorials, such as momentos and anniversaries
- Focusing on other ways to have children, such as through adoption and IVF
The opportunity to share the experience of miscarriage can be cathartic and helpful for men, particularly for those who feel there is little to no support around them. This can involve talking with family, friends, online support networks, or talking to professionals such as a grief and loss counsellor. Telling others gives these close support networks the opportunity to provide help where they otherwise may have assumed it is not needed.
Tips for Bereaving Fathers
Give yourself permission to grieve.
Spend time with your partner.
Ask for support from trusted friends.
Seek counselling and Psychological services.
- MensLine: 1300 789 978
- Bereavement Information and Referral Service: 1300 664 786.
- Sands: Miscarriage, Stillbirth & Newborth Death Support for Fathers
Information about Miscarriage for Men
Due, C., Chiarolli, S., & Riggs, D. W. (2017). The impact of pregnancy loss on men’s health and wellbeing: a systematic review. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 17(1), 380–380. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-017-1560-9
Johnson, M. P. & Baker, S. R. (2004). Implications of coping repertoire as predictors of men’s stress, anxiety and depression following pregnancy, childbirth and miscarriage: a longitudinal study. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 25(2), 87–98. https://doi.org/10.1080/01674820412331282240
Julie L., & Rima A. (2017). Depressive Symptoms in Men Post-Miscarriage. Journal of Men’s Health, 11(5). Retrieved from https://jomh.org/index.php/JMH/article/view/12
Miller, E. J., Temple-Smith, M. J., & Bilardi, J. E. (2019). ‘There was just no-one there to acknowledge that it happened to me as well’: A qualitative study of male partner’s experience of miscarriage. PloS One, 14(5), e0217395–e0217395. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0217395Murphy, F. A. (1998). The experience of early miscarriage from a male perspective. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 7(4), 325–332. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2702.1998.00153.x
Rinehart, M. S., & Kiselica, M. S. (2010). HELPING MEN WITH THE TRAUMA OF MISCARRIAGE. Psychotherapy (Chicago, Ill.), 47(3), 288–295. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021160
Volgsten, H., Jansson, C., Svanberg, A. S., Darj, E., & Stavreus-Evers, A. (2018). Longitudinal study of emotional experiences, grief and depressive symptoms in women and men after miscarriage. Midwifery, 64, 23–28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.midw.2018.05.003
Williams, H. M., Topping, A., Coomarasamy, A., & Jones, L. L. (2019). Men and Miscarriage: A Systematic Review and Thematic Synthesis. Qualitative Health Research, 30(1), 104973231987027–104973231987145. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732319870270