How to deal with the pain of losing your baby on Father’s Day
More often than not, fathers are forgotten in their grief after pregnancy loss. But fathers grieve the loss of a baby too. And Father’s Day after miscarriage can feel lonely, painful, and confusing for a fathers-at-heart.
You were expecting to be a dad, planning all the ways it would change your life. You were ready to tickle your baby’s tummy and be rewarded with his squeals. Later, you wanted to teach him or her to climb a tree or swing on the monkey bars. The two of you were going to be best buds and get into lots of mischief together.
Then all of that was pulled out from underneath you.
The miscarriage left you reeling emotionally, like you were stumbling about in a world that didn’t make sense. It hadn’t followed the plan. Just when you thought you were a dad, it turned out you weren’t?
It was confusing. And it hurt.
But then you saw your partner in despair, and maybe you tucked that hurt away to help her cope with hers.
Or maybe no one thought to ask you about your grief. They didn’t realize how much you wanted this baby, how much you wanted to be a dad.
Now, it’s almost Father’s Day and you should have been able to celebrate.
What are you supposed to do now? No one is going to wish you Happy Father’s Day, but you were a dad. Are a dad at heart.
Even though Father’s Day after miscarriage is difficult, maybe even excruciating, acknowledging your emotions and finding connection with your partner will help you through.
On Father’s Day after miscarriage you may be feeling:
Marginalized or Forgotten
While people may have recognized your partner after the miscarriage, you may not feel seen in your grief. And now that a short (or long) time has passed, no one even mentions it. No one calls you “dad” or sees you out in public and recognizes that part of you.
If people are showing up to support your partner (which is wonderful!), they’re not showing up for you. Some of them may not even send a glance your way.
You have to be strong
Especially if your partner is still struggling, you may feel like you have to be strong to support her.
The approaching holiday may be hovering at the edges of your mind, threatening to pull you down into confusion or even despair, but you try not to think about it.
After miscarriage, you might be confused about what to do with your complicated feelings.
Not so long ago, you were filled with excitement and anticipation. In your mind, you had begun to alter your ideas about yourself and add “father” to your internal identity.
Now, you’re grieving your child and maybe disappointed that this new chapter of your life has been put on hold.
It’s lonely in this space. Even if you and your partner told lots of people about the pregnancy, social norms and taboos keep them from discussing the loss. And stereotypes may keep men from talking to each other about it at all.
So what are you supposed to do with these feelings, especially on Father’s Day after miscarriage?
What to do on Father’s Day after miscarriage:
Allow space for your feelings
Acknowledge your feelings—whatever they are.
First and foremost, there is the grief for your child. And it can feel as big as a gaping, jagged hole in your center or as subtle as a nagging unease.
Then, there is probably the disappointment and confusion you feel about your unrecognized fatherhood.
Additionally, you may feel sad or angry at others for how they’re treating (or not treating) you, or what they’re saying or not saying. That’s fine.
Allow yourself to be angry or sad or disappointed, or all three.
Finally, Father’s Day may trigger memories about what happened. It’s hard to have to relive a terrible moment, but it’s a normal part of the grieving process. Allow the memories to come, and let them pass.
Connect with your partner
You’re both hurting. Although she doesn’t know exactly what it feels like for you to grieve as the father, she can relate what you’re going through.
Your partner may also be triggered by Father’s Day, and you may spend the whole day crying and holding each other. If that’s the case, take comfort in the connection. Allow yourselves to ride the waves of grief together.
Put your feelings into words
Whether it’s with your partner or to yourself, putting your feelings into words can help you “tame” them (Lieberman et al., 2007). When you name the emotion, it holds less power over you.
Not only that, maintaining connection with your partner can help solidify your relationship after pregnancy loss. Having a good connection has been shown to improve both partners’ ability to cope, bounce back, and it even lowers stress (Feuerman, 2020; Johnson, 2008; Lieberman et al., 2007).
Couples Can Heal Together After Miscarriage
You don’t have to struggle through every Father’s Day after miscarriage alone. You and your partner can heal together.
Research has shown that the physical presence and touch of a loved one lessen our perception of pain (Coan et al., 2006; Cohut, 2019; Sandoiu, 2018).
Emotionally, your partner can also act as a life-preserver, helping you hold your head above the dark waters of grief. They remind you that you’re not alone, and together you can find glimpses of hope and what life will be like in the future.
Couples Therapy Can Help
Couples therapy can help you through Father’s Day after miscarriage, and every other day too.
Evidence-based counseling modalities like Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) help couples connect and process their grief together. The American Psychological Association reported that 75% of couples who use EFT see improvement in the quality of their relationships, which can be especially important during the stress of something as significant as miscarriage.
If you’re struggling with a pregnancy loss, counseling can help you untangle and identify the emotions you’re experiencing. A trained counselor can be an additional source of support—one that knows fathers hurt after miscarriage too and isn’t afraid to talk about it.
About Dr. Irena
Dr. Irena has over 20 years of experience of working with couples around infertility and pregnancy loss. With her compassionate expertise and certification in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), she has helped many couples strengthen their connection and heal together.
Coan, J. A., Schaefer, H. S., & Davidson, R. J. (2006). Lending a hand: social regulation of the neural response to threat. Psychological Science, 17(12), 1032-1039. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01832.x
Cohut, M. (2019). Simply being with someone you love can lessen physical pain. Medical News Today.
Feuerman, M. (2020). Emotionally Focused Therapy: Effective Treatment for Distressed Couples. VeryWellMind.com.
Johnson, S. (2008). Hold Me Tight. Little, Brown Spark.
Lieberman, M. D., Eisenberger, N. I., Crockett, M. J., Tom, S. M., Pfeifer, J. H., & Way, B. M. (2007). Putting Feelings Into Words: Affect Labeling Disrupts Amygdala Activity in Response to Affective Stimuli. . Psychological Science, 18(5), 421-428.
Sandoiu, A. (2018). Hold my hand: Touching may ease pain by syncing brainwaves. Medical News Today.