Especially For Dads

What do you say to your wife:
There is nothing you can say to change things or make anything better but being there will mean the world.  Grieve with her, pray with her, and assure her of your love. Expect for your physician to offer and even suggest medication for depression before you leave the hospital.  Please do much research on this before just diving head first into this world.  This could possibly bring about a whole different set of issues. 

What to expect during the hospital stay:
Cry, go to "sleep" (whatever sleep means now), wake up, cry, pass out.   If you already have a child or children, you know what it feels like to experience the miracle of birth and hold a little girl and a little boy in your arms.  It is a miracle, how your heart can expand to love yet another child.  The miracle will occur.  Your heart will expand to include another child, yet there will be an unexplainable void.  You will have a new love to give at a level you never knew. There is a newly designed chamber in your heart to hold love only for your stillborn child.  The love designed to give is now held back. 

How do you tell your kids: 
Many times, this will be your job as dad. Pray and ask God to give you grace to speak. Get down on your knees, pull your children close, and tell them as unemotionally as possible that their brother/sister died. Try to use straight but tender language, not confusing them.  Some confusing comments might be: your brother/sister has passed away or we lost your brother/sister.  Their first response will be, "Where is mom?" Assure them that she is ok. You will need to make a decision before they get there if you want them to see their sibling.  This is beneficial in bringing closer and understanding.

Pull in your best friends.  You and your wife need them.  Hospital food stinks and someone bringing food even at the hospital helps. Close friends, visiting at the hospital, is good, but when they all leave, it gets seriously hard.    Let your friends keep well meaning people away.  Not everyone needs to see you at this time, during the hospital experience. Be very selective in who gets to come in the room, the fewer the better. Let the selfish, stupid comments come later.  The hospital is not the time or place. Examples of Stupid comments: How do you feel? Your going to get over this? We will get you through this? God will not put on you more than you can bear? Someone even said “I hope your marriage makes it”.  Idiots love tragedy and they always show up. 

Consent to Release Form – This form must be signed before the funeral home can take your child. The funeral home will need to come and pick up the body, deceased,  or remains.  These are all words that you will hear.  You have been created to protect and provide. Every ounce of you may want to fight but you can not. Fill out the forms and have a friend go on a walk with you. You will need to prepare yourself and understand that your wife may not be able to handle the details.  A suggestion would be to sign the forms and not make a big deal about it to your wife.  
Consent for Autopsy Form – This is a form that needs consideration. Do you plan on having other children? Is there a possible hereditary problem that has caused the death? You may never know the cause.  

Memorial, funeral arrangements, and burial:
If someone you trust and love is looking for something to do, this would be a good task. They can contact the funeral homes and find out options, then come back and report to you.  Bottom line is with these arrangements, go with the place you feel most comfortable and has a good reputation. With all the other pain, this is not a place for any problems.  
Consider the costs: body preparations, casket,  grave plot, grave marker, and even cremation.  All of these things are more expensive then you would think.  There are some cemeteries who offer free plots for infant deaths or neonatal deaths, but check on these first. They may be free for a reason because of bad drainage or no grass due to poor soil.  Cremation is an option. Some people choose this and then put the ashes of their child in a special location.  Either way, burial or cremation,  it sometimes brings comfort to be able to go to a place later (birthdays, special days).  
Consider where you will bury your child:  Many people will make suggestions but it is up to you and your wife. Think of you and your spouses job/jobs and the possibility of a move. It would be hard to move and leave your child in a place where you will never return. A possibility is where your family lives. This way someone can always look after the grave and hold the cemetery crew accountable.  Don’t think for a minute that most places will do much more than mow the grass. Many places are very difficult to get anyone on the phone or in person to do anything.


When you get home, talk to your wife.  Take a nap with your wife.  Help with whatever needs to be done. Guard how many people come in the first week, though a few close friends are needed.  Let your wife rest. Your main role is to protect her.  Do not worry about those pushy people that want to help.  Send these people to the store, even if you don’t need anything.  Just get them away from your wife.  Listen to your wife. As a man, we want to move on. If you go on, then you will leave your wife. She is not going anywhere. Don’t think for a minute that this sorrow will be temporary. Whatever you do, do not try and force your wife to stop crying. Bossing her around will only make things worse. Many dads have told us as sons to “walk it off”, "forget it and get over it". This will NOT be something that you EVER get over.  "It" was your child, your own flesh and blood.  God does not intend for you to "get over it". 

Going back to work: 
When you go back to work, make a rotation schedule of best friends to sit with your wife every week for at least the first month. Don’t leave your wife alone if at all possible.   Even if she feels like she wants to be alone, she needs people right now.  People that are dear to her.  

Helping your children during the first week: 
Your children are going to have feelings and questions that they need to reflect and ask.  As much as possible, during the first week, let them talk to you. They will want to talk about their sibling, sing songs about them, and ask questions, for many years to come. Take them on a drive, go for a walk, or play outside. Let them do all these sweet but heart-wrenching things away from mom as much as possible during the first week.  Mom will be able to "handle it" as the days move on.  Expect during the next numerous years for them to continual talk about their sibling to everyone.  Don’t try to keep them quiet.