Tips for Couples When Baby Dies
Fred and I wrote this together: from our personal experience as bereaved parents (of 5 babies who died), and of our experience helping other grieving couples. We hope you find this helpful.
When a baby dies, the mother and father can sometimes seem to be on different grieving timetables and have differing needs. Try not to be frustrated. This is very common, and I know (from personal experience) that this can actually work to your benefit. Difficulty can arise when one parent expects the other to feel or behave exactly the same way they do: e.g, if the mother is talking openly and crying, while the father tries to be calm and quiet, she might assume that he “does not care as much as I do”. We urge you both to remember: how a person expresses feelings does not always reflect how deep those feelings are.
Also, please take the time to talk about the differences and to find the similarities. And if your partner can’t meet a need of yours because it conflicts with their own, try to find someone else to help you with that need.
Personally, I sat at home day after day, alone, depressed and feeling sorry for myself. I tried to protect Fred by not telling him what was so heavy on my mind. But the burden grew heavier and heavier. When I finally broke down and told Fred what I’d been thinking, and how I’d been missing our baby, he said he’d been feeling the same way. We talked about it, which right away eased some of my burden. Please don’t wait like I did: tell your partner what you need today. Some days you might need to talk, cry, or be hugged; other days, you won’t need any of that. This is normal too.
Sometimes people measure grief by the quantity of tears or other outward signs. Don’t assume that just because your partner gets dressed or goes to work each day that they’ve stopped grieving; or that if your partner cries with deep sorrow and pain, he or she will be like this forever. You are each different people now. If you both let each other respond to the loss naturally, without pressure to change, you will discover some of your old selves returning. And in time it will all be less stressful.
Please use strategies like these to allow your relationship to grow and strengthen. Losing a baby is very stressful and a strong partnership is needed to recover and stay healthy. Many couples experience strain on their relationship. We urge you to seek professional help if there is undue tension or if you feel you cannot cope alone. Many couples have sought help and say it was most beneficial.
We hope this article has been of some help to you. Please take good care of yourselves.