Experiencing the loss of a baby can wreak havoc on your relationships, especially your relationship with your spouse or significant other. Mostly, in my opinion, because everyone grieves so differently, even the person that you know the best and love the most can suddenly feel like a stranger. But the fact that we grieve differently than those around us, even those closest to us, is a truth that is easily forgotten when you’re in the middle of it. When you know how you are feeling but you are simply guessing at how the person standing across from you is feeling. And when their grief doesn’t look like yours, when it’s obviously different, it can create confusion and hurt and resentment and a plethora of other feelings and emotions. And communicating about such hard things can be incredibly difficult and overwhelming, not knowing what to say to each other and when would be the best time.
There are so many conflicting emotions and feelings in a moment that already feels hard and broken.
But I want to encourage you, it’s worth the fight. This relationship is worth fighting for and communicating even when its awkward, even when you say the wrong thing at the wrong time and even when you assume the worst when you should assume the best. It’s worth trying again and it’s worth saying I’m sorry and it’s worth putting aside all of your hurt to love the person who means the most to you. The one who, though they may show it differently, is hurting too.
I asked the women in The Morning Community to share their advice for a grieving couple, and it is SO helpful. I pray it blesses you and reminds you that you aren’t alone in this.
P.S. If you are looking for more Grief + Marriage Resources check out this post: 10 Tips for the Grieving Couple
20+ Real women who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss give their advice: “Tell us your best advice for a grieving couple.”
Our grief will look different & that is ok. @whitneyhoffmann
Often you may have a good day while the other has a bad day and vice versa – be patient and gentle and meet the other where they’re at. @pillowsofgrace
He may not show it but everything your needing to get through this, he’s going to need it too. He’ll need you to just sit with him in the dark/angry times, a way to honor and remember our baby that’ll be his own, encouragement to see a therapist, someone to pray over him when he can’t ask for it. Grace, comfort, and patience- He may not be able to say it but he needs it too. @justafulton
He may sometimes be the only other person who knows about your loss – the intimacy of that is glorious and hard and humbling, honor that. @haehnelfamily
Be real. Don’t hide your tears/anger about what happened.
Don’t be afraid to show happiness if you find it. I remember watching squirrels in our yard the day after our loss, and it felt both strange and wonderful to laugh with my husband for a second. @v.gaskill
Seek counseling early to help you both to feel supported and to help create a safe place to acknowledge feelings and learn how to support one another. Navigating loss is nothing anyone can be prepared for and I learned that there are just some things in life that one should be quick to seek counsel for in order to be as healthy as possible in the thick of it all. @artist_heatheressian
We had two miscarriages. We handled the first terribly and nearly divorced. The second was a vast improvement. Here’s what we learned: remember men and women grieve differently. To the guys: Don’t try to fix it. It’s not fixable. There’s power in being weak together. To the ladies: he’s grieving too. He can’t be everything you need him to be. Communicate your feelings and needs, give grace where needs aren’t met, and let God fill in what’s missing. @thissideofif
People will tell you that your spouse is the only person who will truly understand you and your pain, since you’re both experiencing it together. But personally I think that was a lie – my husband and I grieve very differently and I felt like I could barely relate to him. I had an easier time relating to other women who’ve had similar experiences. We needed to give each other room to grieve differently and lovingly accept that in each other. Easier said than done of course, and some days I would just wish my husband would grieve with me, my way. But unfortunately I don’t think it works like that. Showing love and acceptance is so so important. @laurenmklewis
Being firmly rooted in our separate personal relationships with Christ helped us cope together as a couple during our miscarriage. We knew that only Christ alone was all-sufficient to meet our every need as a couple grieving the loss of our child. We grieved differently, but God created us to handle things in different ways. My husband was a source of emotional strength, even though I knew he was hurting, too. But, only God can mend every broken heart, fill every gap, and supply us with the comfort, grace, and strength to make it through every devastating situation. @hgcady
For me, I cried a lot and I also needed to talk about it a lot. That helped me. My husband cried a little in front of me, but he tried to be so strong for me so he would hide a lot of his emotions. A couple times, I heard him crying in another room and as badly as I wanted to go comfort him, I knew the minute I did that, he would pull himself together for ME. So I had to let him grieve alone in those moments, and that was hard for me. Everything about it is just so hard but I feel as though our marriage is even stronger than it was pre-miscarriage. @morgan_baughman
Our loss brought us even closer because we are the only two people on earth chosen to be Millie’s parents. I took 3 months off of work following our 2nd trimester loss so I often didn’t talk to many people during the day and needed to verbally process when he got home. He never seemed to want to talk about it. He finally explained that he was talking about her all day at work answering questions about us that he was mentally exhausted by the time he got home. Our counselor recommended a “Millie board”, a marker board in a common area where whenever we feel/think something we write it down so the other person can see how we are feeling/thinking that day or week. It was instrumental in helping us communicate about our loss. I would also recommend counseling even for a healthy marriage. It helped us to communicate better and see where the other person was coming from. @moriahclifton
I’m so thankful for my husband and his strength while dealing with our miscarriage. We leaned on each other. He held me and just let me cry. He didn’t try to rush my grieving process either. He was kind, and gentle with my heart. To this day he is still encouraging and faithful that God will bless us with a rainbow baby! @camariemcbride
My husband was the one who brought up wanting to try. I was hesitant as we’d lost a baby once before but I knew that I did want to try and trust God with the outcome. We were so excited to get pregnant….and so heartbroken to miscarry again. Going home from the doctor and telling him was the HARDEST thing I’ve ever done because I knew how much he wanted that baby. We had a really special time together in that moment, as hard as it was. He has grieved pretty quietly but I’ve told him how glad I am that we did try. I’ve thanked him for being brave enough to bring it up again (after the last loss 12 yrs ago) and I make sure he knows how important he is to me and that this loss does not lessen that at all. @trim.true
Do things together that remind you that you are more than just a grieving couple. Being able to travel and try new things together after infertility and multiple miscarriages helped save our marriage, we feel. It reminded us that we were more than just two people grieving together. @breetolly
Men and women grieve differently. Women talk about what they feel and want to get their feelings out but men often internalize their pain and often suffer silently or by keeping busy and trying to be a fixer. My husband admitted that the hardest part of the miscarriage for him was not the actual loss of our baby but watching me go through it all. It’s okay that you grieve differently. Support each other where you are at and just because he seems to be doing fine, doesn’t mean he is…he might just be pretending to be strong for you. @jennwilp
Just because he isn’t grieving the same as you- doesn’t mean he isn’t grieving. Men typically “seem” to “move on” much quicker because they usually have to get back to work and back to providing, etc. but that doesn’t mean that they have healed already. @raisingupeight
This is a simple thing that I think was important for us: When people would reach out to us, they usually did it through me. When other families wanted to check on us or see how we were doing, it was usually through the wife reaching out to me, though I know their husbands were thinking of us and praying as well. It became important for me to share the messages and caring words I was receiving with my husband– because I realized the men around us were less vocal. If I didn’t tell him, he would miss out on a lot of the support and love we were receiving.
And when a friend would say that their husband was praying for mine, I would encourage them to contact him, and just affirm that it would mean so much to him although it may be uncomfortable. Im not sure this is universal- but it was our experience that our male friends had a harder time with talking about our daughter and our grief. @devutter
Don’t bottle it up. Talk about what you’re feeling and be vulnerable. We are deep into grief and only 3 weeks from our loss, but I do feel closer to my husband than ever before even though we are going through it differently. I find when I am willing to open up with him, we can lean on each other so much better. @mindyhopper
It is so hard to grieve differently than your spouse: it can truly pit you against one another. A sweet friend reminded me that “he is your Sam.” She was referring to Sam in Lord of the Rings, Frodo’s best friend. They have this unbelievable experience together- literally forged in the fires of Mordor. And they just know that they are the only ones who truly can share that experience. It was a helpful reminder that he and I are on the same team. We are fighting for our marriage, rather than fighting each other over who is grieving more. @misswyolene
Allow grief and joy to coexist. Be real and raw with one another and remind each other of the truth that God is still good. @jasminevans_
I grieved differently than my husband. And that’s okay. We didn’t push each other away but instead we ran to God together. But there came a point that I needed help from other women who had been in my place before. We aren’t meant to always be everything for our spouse. We need friends too. @britsuszko
What doesn’t work: hiding your emotions. It makes them think you’re upset over something else when you truly aren’t. I just spent all night with my husband thinking I was upset over a flat tire but truly I was upset over the fact that my 30th birthday was supposed to be spent celebrating the halfway point of our pregnancy when I just lay here with an empty belly crying but unable to say why. @veronicaberriebaird