Coping With Father's Day After Pregnancy Loss

man and woman embracing

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There are plenty of emotional stumbling blocks you’ll encounter as you work through the difficult times after you and your partner suffer a pregnancy loss. One day you can feel like you're coping well, like life might actually go back to "normal." The next day, you might have a well-meaning friend who hasn’t heard the news ask how far along your partner is in her pregnancy, and the loss will be fresh again.

One event you might not have prepared for is Father's Day. Starting in May, stores tend to fill up with gift ideas for Dad, cards, and endless reminders of the approaching date. So how do you deal?

While there's no right or wrong way to spend the holiday after a miscarriage, here are some ideas for taking care of yourself during this emotional time.

Give Yourself a Break

First of all, there's no reason you shouldn't feel free to just ignore the holiday altogether. Friends and family may not be on the same page, so be straight with those close to you that you’d rather let the day pass. 

Just be mentally prepared that the day might be hard on you, or your partner, and give yourself a break if you need some time to grieve.

Express Yourself

If you don't feel comfortable talking to your friends and family right now, consider writing a letter or journaling to sort through and release the emotions you're feeling.

As difficult as the process can be, writing your feelings out on paper can be a cathartic and healing experience.

It can also be helpful to talk through your feelings with a mental health professional, like a therapist or counselor.

Surround Yourself With Loved Ones

Spending the day with loved ones can help you feel less alone and provide a safe outlet for you to express your feelings. It can also be a healthy distraction, as you focus on the dads in your own life, like your father, your brother, or brother-in-law.

Make Plans

Make plans for the holiday to do something else you enjoy. A trip to the ballpark or doing a project in the yard you’ve been meaning to tackle might be just the type of healthy distraction you need right now.

It may also be a good time for you and your partner to get away together and offer comfort to one another. Time together could also be as simple as going for coffee or getting a couple's massage.

Organize an Event or Activity

For some men, marking the event is helpful to the healing process. If you’ve joined a support group, organize an event for the members. Anything from an informal backyard barbecue to a more dedicated remembrance event like a walk or balloon release could be therapeutic.

This could also be a great time for the whole family to get into a special activity to honor your baby’s memory. For example, you can attend a religious service, light a candle, or ask for a special prayer. Planting a tree or garden is also a great way to memorialize the lost child together.

Help Others

Serve a meal at a soup kitchen, help out an animal shelter, or spend some time building a house for a family in need. No matter how you decide to spend your time, helping others can really give you a sense of purpose. It can also make you feel good about yourself and occupy your mind.

This can also be a good time to give to a non-profit charity or organization known for increasing awareness about pregnancy loss.

Be Sensitive to Your Other Children

If you have other children, no matter how fresh your grief may feel, remember your kids might be coping differently. They might need the chance to recognize Father’s Day like they usually do. Be sensitive to their needs, but don’t be afraid to be honest with them if you get emotional.

Support Your Partner

And of course, your partner is likely to be feeling stressed by the holiday too, since she likely just endured her first Mother's Day since the loss. Keep communicating with each other, and do the best you can to support each other on this day and every day.

1 Source
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  1. Human M, Green S, Groenewald C, Goldstein RD, Kinney HC, Odendaal HJ. Psychosocial implications of stillbirth for the mother and her family: A crisis-support approach. Social Work (Stellenbosch). 2014;50(4):392. doi:10.15270/50-4-392

By Elizabeth Czukas, RN, MSN
Elizabeth Czukas is a writer who who has worked as an RN in high-risk obstetrics, antepartum care, and with women undergoing pregnancy loss.