Dear Husbands of Grieving Wives...
I would like to take a moment to be candid with you. I know you are in so much pain. You probably feel like you are stuck in a nightmare that you cannot seem to wake from. I know you feel lost and uncertain of the road ahead. I know you look at your wife and you want to fix her. I know you fear you have lost her too and wonder if she will ever return. I promise she will one day, but you just need to be patient. I know you want to be strong for her, but part of that strength is being able to share your weaknesses and your pain with her. She is going to cry - a lot. She is going to be engulfed in sorrow. A bond is forged between a mother and child that is indescribable, and now she is trying to figure out how to continue when a piece of her is literally missing. She feels as though she can’t go on. Like she can't breathe. So be patient with her. Don’t rush her healing. Understand it is ok if she seems to grieve more intensity or deeply than you. It is because God designed her to have that passion and zeal in all capacities of her life and that is exactly why she is able to love and nurture you so well. Remember, she grieves fiercely because she loves fiercely.
Don’t try to fix her - because even on your best day you can’t. But you can pray for her - earnestly. Pray for God to comfort her, heal her, bring supportive people into her life, quicken you to her needs, and give you the strength you need even in the middle of your own pain to provide for her. Encourage her to see a counselor - reassure her there is nothing wrong with needing help. If she is hesitant to go, offer to take her or go with her … it would be good for you too.
Talk to her about your child - and do it often. Say their name out loud. There are times when she will feel like all have forgotten except her. She may begin to believe that she is the only one who thought of them or said their name that day. Remind her that is not the case. When your heart is hurting and your arms are longing to hold your baby - tell her. Let her share that moment with you. Share your feelings with her. If you don’t let her see that you too are hurting, she will feel alone in her grief, and it is a very desolate place to be.
Tell her how proud you are of her and how perfectly she loved your beautiful child. Remind her it was NOT her fault ... she did NOT fail ... her body DID NOT FAIL. Even though deep down she knows the circumstances were out of her control, she is constantly fighting the thought that she somehow was to blame. That maybe, just maybe, she could have done something differently and your child would still be here. If your child passed after birth, the same still applies. Maybe you are feeling responsible too. Remember, neither of you chose this. You both loved your baby so perfectly, and I know had you been given the chance, you would have traded your life for theirs in an instant. The love of a parent is truly beyond compare.
Don't be naive about the strain the death of a child puts on a a marriage. Emotions are raw, unfiltered and easily riled. Be patient with each other and always forgive. Truth is, who you were has changed in certain ways and now you need to relearn how to navigate each other and become a healthy couple once again. Remember you promised in both sickness and in health that you would never leave her side. Keep true to that promise and do everything you can to protect it.
Take care of yourself - I know society as a whole does not affirm to you that it is ok for you to grieve. I'm sure those around you ask how your wife is doing and seem to forget altogether that you too lost a child. I am so very sorry if you have been left on the sidelines. It's not right and it's not ok. But believe me when I say, your measure as a man is not lessened by showing your heart . In fact, I would argue that it is the complete opposite. It takes a very strong man to share his weakness and his pain. You are the leader of your household and I know you take that job seriously, but understand this - unless you find a healthy way to work through your grief, that ordained position is left open and vulnerable. So please, take care of yourself so you may also take care of her.
Lastly, thank God everyday for the woman He gave you. God entrusted you to take care of her heart and He will equip you with what you need to do so - you need only ask.