A beautiful, yet difficult, time of year for many....

Kathleen was born the end of September, so we were barely functioning by the time Christmas came upon us. I recall wanting to just hide until it was over, but because we had a two-year-old who was just realizing what Christmas was about, that was not an option. Obviously, we wanted to enjoy that time with Emily, but to say that our hearts were not in it like we wished they could be, would be an understatement.

To make matters worse, Christmas would also be the first time we saw many of our family members for the first time. While that was the result of making the choice not to have a memorial service that they could have attended, it nevertheless was a big stress.

I wish I could tell you that in the end it all went extremely well and that we had a wonderful time that holiday, but that would be a lie. Many of our interactions with family were strained, not because they didn't care, but because they did not know what to say or if they should say anything. I recall mentioning Kathleen's name in a conversation with my aunt, and she said, "who in the world is Kathleen?" Every time we were expected to sing a song in church about a Baby in a manger, or a star shining down in the East, I wanted to run and never look back. All in all, it was a nightmare that we survived. But, it was not the first nightmare we had experienced, so it all started to feel sort of like that is what our lives would be like from then on.

I'm happy to say that I was wrong. But you would not have convinced me of that at the time.

For those of you whose loss is recent, just know that you will make it through like so many of us have before you. But give yourselves the right to take care of yourselves and not be forced to do things to make someone else feel comfortable or put up a false front for the benefit of others. Your reality may be that this is going to be a tough Christmas -- and that's OK.

That being said, don't fall into the trap of thinking that you don't have the right to feel good, smile, and enjoy this season. While tears, sadness, and a sense of hopelessness are very normal emotions at a time like this, they are not the only ways to honor the memory of your baby.

Try and think of something that will help you get through the celebrations and chaos of the season. Going to a concert or attending a pageant may help you recall your own childhood and the joy and excitement you felt. Volunteering somewhere where you can feel like you are helping another child find happiness, can also feel good. Or, it might be something as simple as bringing a candle to your celebration, lighting it, and letting it shine throughout your day -- even if you are the only ones who know its significance. Sometimes sharing a poem or prayer before dinner, while sad, can help break the ice and let others know its ok to talk about your baby and that the tears are OK. Once that has been done, it often is a lot easier to relax and let yourself smile and laugh.

Whatever you decide to do or not do, know that each year the season will likely get easier. I can honestly say that now when I sit in church on Christmas Eve, look at that Baby in the manger, and think of that star shining down on the world -- I find a sense of calm in knowing that those things hold a little different significance for me than they do for many of those around me.

May we all find peace.

Maintaining Old Friendhips in the "New Normal"

I received the following post from a dad who recently experienced a loss. He correctly suggested this topic should be a new thread.

I think it's an excellent question and one that I struggled with a lot. For some reason, it is also one I often forget to address, so I am grateful for how beautifully he articulated it. I will comment after I get it posted -- I hope you will too. Thanks everyone.


Hi Tim,
I'm new to the blog. Our daughter Selah was stillborn on September 22. I apologize for commenting off topic, but I'm wondering if you'd be interested in starting a thread about how to maintain friendships during the early stages of grief. More specifically, I'm finding that I'm surprised at the friends (who have been truly good friends to me in the past) either 1)avoiding me or 2) pretending nothing has happened because their wife sent a sympathy card in the mail, so let's all just get on with life. I really understand that the whole thing is awkward for friends who have never suffered this kind of loss, and I don't want to label (most of) them as just too shallow to handle real friendship...i.e. I want to maintain the friendships, but I feel that my ability to connect meaningfully with them anymore is severely hampered by their response (or non-response?) to my loss and grief. Obviously, if they're true friends, starting an honest conversation with them is going to be a good place to start. But the catch-22 is that right when I'm most needing the friendship, I don't have the emotional energy to be the one doing the reaching out...I don't feel like I have the energy to be in the "teaching" role (i.e. 'teaching' friends how to be good friends to me--or anyone--who has lost a baby). I'd love to hear yours and others' comments, suggestions, etc., regarding this.

Seasonal Mood Changes

I am personally very affected by the changing seasons. Anyone who has ever lived in Minnesota definitely understands what changing seasons are (although the warm ones seem kind of short), and I find that shorter days and gloomy skies don't work well for me. Because our daughter's stillbirth occurred in September, it seems that Fall can be a particularly difficult time for both my wife and I. We chalk it up to Kathleen's death, but I sometimes wonder if that's really it. Especially since we have two living children who have birthdays two days either side of Kathleen's.

How about you? Any thoughts? Have you come up with any ideas that help to deal with it (besides suggesting I move to Arizona)?

Intimacy & Subsequent Pregnancy - When?

Whenever I bring this topic up while speaking to a group, there are always a few red faces and eyes darting to the floor. Frankly, that's what makes it such an important point to discuss. Many of us find it hard to express our sexual needs, desires, fears, and insecurities under the best of circumstances. When you add grief to the mix, it can get really dicey and be a topic we simply want to avoid.

If you are lucky enough to be comfortable talking about this stuff to your partner, you are lucky, and probably will not see what the big deal is. But, if you find this difficult, it can be a real source of problems that can result in adding to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

So -- when is the right time to resume sexual relations? When is the right time to start trying to have another baby? What if one of you wants to try again but the other just isn't sure they want to?

Unfortunately, there are no black and white answers to any of these questions. Like everything, it depends on your situation -- physical condition, emotional state of mind, relationship, and numerous other factors. Often times people will hear that you should wait a minimum of six months to a year before trying again. Depending on the circumstances and timing of your loss, that makes total sense, and any decision about the physical and emotional risks of another pregnancy should first be discussed with your doctor.

Sometimes the tougher question can be when to resume being intimate? Again, physical considerations are part of that decision, but most of the time this decision "simply" requires communication between you and your partner about your feelings.... Come to think of it, maybe THAT'S why I recall avoiding this topic with my wife.

Seriously, while we definitely felt close emotionally in our need to be held and comforted -- especially when trying to sleep through the night -- neither of us mentioned how we were feeling about sex. When it got to the point that I was feeling like I wanted to, I wondered how I would deal with the guilt of having a moment of pleasure? Those feelings were compounded because I then wondered if it would affect my performance, and that REALLY made me insecure! But, once we were able to talk about it and I realized that we each had our own set of emotions surrounding that moment, we were able to relax and things just happened naturally.

As for another pregnancy, after discussing our situation with our doctor, he felt comfortable supporting us in trying again. Because it had taken us over two years to get pregnant the first time, we decided that we should go for it sooner than later since we were in agreement about wanting more children, if possible. Surprisingly, Monica got pregnant right away, and three months after Kathleen's death, we were expecting another baby. We were very happy, of course, but we had not stopped to think what our timing in starting to try could potentially mean. Our next child was actually due on Kathleen's birthday, and the feelings of deja vu were tremendously stressful for me. I found myself working hard to not get excited because the bliss of pregnancy was gone and it simply became a time to survive. Even all these years later, I have some regrets about what I missed out on during that time in terms of being able to feel the anticipation and excitement of expecting a child.

Keep in mind this is only MY experience. I can definitely tell you that Monica did not feel the same way and her version of this story would be very different from what I just shared.

I guess that really is the point. Don't think that any story you hear suddenly means you know how you're going to feel. These decisions are unique to you and very important to your relationship. No desire or fear is wrong and there is no reason to judge harshly either yourself or your partner. While you may not have previously ever had the need to discuss your sex life with your mate because you were on the same page, know that may not be the case right now. It certainly doesn't mean your marriage is in trouble, but you both should realize the importance of being open and understanding of one another.

I hope others of you will share how you dealt with these decisions and offer any insights you have. The beauty of the blog is that if your face gets red, none of us will ever be the wiser.

For Those Who Post On This Blog

I keep forgetting to post this, but wanted you to know that there will often be a delay between when you write something for the blog and when it shows up. I have it set so that all posts have to be moderated by me. I know there are disadvantages to that, but on our A Place To Remember bulletin board, we have had some very disrespectful things written by people either wanting to challenge someone's actions/beliefs or attempting to be funny.

Posts do show up on my phone (most of the time) so I am usually aware of them fairly soon. I just don't want you to think what you wrote has been lost. Thanks!


How do you escape from your grief? We all know that it can be overwhelming at times and it's only natural to seek ways to get away from it. Some feel guilty for trying to take a break. Others run fast and try to never look back.

What positive things have you done to bring yourself some relief from your pain? What have you done that you know was not the healthiest way to go about it? Where is that middle ground where you achieve that much deserved relief, without having your behaviors be hurtful or damaging to your relationship?

Remember that you can be anonymous here and I can assure you there is little I haven't already heard or done myself. Thanks!


Following a crisis in our lives, it is not unusual to look back and wish we had done things differently. Maybe it was something that was said to a spouse or partner that was insensitive or misinterpreted. Maybe it was rushing the time that you were able to spend with your baby. Or, maybe it was making the choice not to take pictures and now wishing you had.

The bottom line is, all any of us can do when living in crisis is to simply make the best decisions possible at the time. When our world feels like it's crashing down around us, it only makes sense that the things we choose might not be the same as those we would under different circumstances. In the midst of deep grief, it's easy to get caught up in the regrets and think about them to the point of driving ourselves crazy. If our partner in any way seems to be holding those decisions against us, the situation is ripe for a lot of pain and misunderstanding.

I would like to know if any of you have experienced significant regrets and what you did to be able to move on. I can share some of my own experiences, but would like to hear from you first. Thanks!

Why us?

There was a new post yesterday under the Self-Esteem heading on this blog. As the dad mentioned, he was not sure he was necessarily facing a self-esteem issue, but was more struggling with the question of "why us?".

I certainly experienced the same feeling when Kathleen died. How can something like this happen to two people who wanted a baby so much? How can it happen to two people who are good parents and want to share their love with a child? How can it happen to people who have a belief system and try to live their lives accordingly? The questions can go on and on. I just wish that with the wisdom I have gained in the last 25-years I could say I have an answer, but I don't. I think the closest thing to an answer I can come up with is that there is no answer.

However, I can assure you that you are likely going to hear all sorts of theories from people who are trying to make you feel better. Things like, "it was meant to be," and "God has a plan for all of us," "there must have been something wrong," or, "you just have to try again." Again, the comments will go on and on. Keep in mind that most of those people are simply trying to find the same answers you are and are sincerely attempting to be helpful.

The dad who wrote the post also made comments about being angry with others who had children. He even mentioned feeling a sense of shame for being the father of a child who died. But it was his last sentence that really touched me. He said, "It is a helplessness that seems to be cruelly designed to crush a man." I have never had anyone so eloquently describe exactly how I felt at the time of our loss...helplessness cruelly designed to crush me.

With the benefit of time and healing on my side, I can see now that the helplessness, anger, and envy are all part of what we refer to as grief. They are just some of the emotions held in the grief capsule, and when we can express them, we are taking steps toward healing. I know that is of little consolation when you are in pain, but I hope you can find some hope in that.

Thank you to each of you who make a contribution by reading or writing something on this blog, or others like it. You are touching people in countless ways.


Someone recently mentioned that they wished Sherokee Ilse and I had included a section on "self-esteem" in our recently published book, Couple Communication After A Baby Dies -- Differing Perspectives. While we do touch on the topic periodically throughout the book, we did not devote an entire section to it.

The person who brought this to our attention explained that they had some pretty serious self-esteem issues following their loss because they felt like they had failed. Obviously some women feel their bodies somehow failed their baby and men struggle with wondering why they were not better able to protect their family from devastation. I recall adding another dimension to that when I started to feel like a failure as a husband -- as well as father -- because there didn't seem to be anything I could do that would help Monica "move on".

Once someone starts to feel bad about themselves, it can spiral into showing itself in all sorts of ways, most of which are not healthy. It seems that when we are able to be totally logical, we can understand that we did not intentially do anything to hurt our baby, and there are simply some things in life that we are unable to control. Unfortunately, when we're extremely sad and depressed, logic does not come easily.

I would like to hear your thoughts and experiences with this issue. Nothing is more healing than knowing we're not alone and hearing how others coped.

Father's Day is Coming

After losing a baby, Father's Day can be one of those days that you face with mixed emotions. No matter what your circumstances are or how many living children you might have, it often is a day to stop and wonder what might have been.

For those of you with recent losses, I can tell you that I believe this days does get easier over time. Not because you forget, but because you heal. Healing is obviously the ultimate goal for all of us, because anything short of that robs us of our ability to truly enjoy life and I don't think any of our children would want that for us. The thing to keep in mind, however, is that in order to heal, you must first allow yourselves to hurt. Too many times, men think that by stuffing their pain as deep in the recesses of their mind as they can, they will be able to "skip" the grief and the hurt. I'm here to tell you that it won't work. You may be able to kid yourself for months -- or even years -- but it will almost certainly come back to bite you at some point.

So, keep a couple things in mind.

First of all -- whether you have other living children or not -- you are a dad. Try not to ever deny yourself that honor.

Secondly, consider letting the people around you know what would make this Father's Day special for you. They can't read your mind and you likely are not necessarily coming off on the outside the same way you are feeling on the inside. Some of us have a real gift for that little quality!

Finally, please accept my congratulations on being a dad, and best wishes for making this day meaningful to you. Not only do you deserve it, but your children do as well.

A great weekend at Faith's Lodge

I'm slowing at posting this because things have gotten kind of busy ... which is a good thing when you are a small business owner in a poor economy.

Sherokee Ilse and I lead a couple's retreat at Faith's Lodge in northern Wisconsin on Mother's Day weekend. It was a fantastic experience and once again reminded me of the many blessings Kathleen's life has brought me.

Being around young families who have had more recent losses is never easy, and it almost sounds strange to say we had a fun weekend ... but we did. There was much laughter and certainly a fair amount of crying, but the openness and sharing that took place is what meant the most to me. Hearing parents, men in particular, talk about how their lives have changed and their priorities rearranged since their loss, gives me hope that all the pain we have experienced has not been for nothing. It once again proves that it is possible to learn and grow from even the most horrendous experiences that life might toss at us.

Each of the couples at the retreat had a very unique story -- but those stories also shared a common thread. These moms and dads loved and wanted their babies and they will spend the rest of their lives remembering and honoring them, learning to incorporate their memory into their own present and future. I have no doubt that they will be successful in doing that, and their children will continue to touch countless people in the years to come.

If you are not aware of it already, check out Faith's Lodge, and consider spending some time there. It truly is a place of healing and hope.

A Father's Day Poem

Sherokee Ilse, is a good friend and co-author of the Couple Communication book we just published. She and her husband, David, have been good friends of Monica and mine since shortly after our babies died. Our baby's lives brought us together and in the last 25 years we have shared many good, and some sad, times together. Sherokee just sent me this poem she recently wrote and asked me to share it. Here it is:

Who Remembers You?

Dad, supporting mom along the way
Waiting for the time and day
When you can hold your daughter or son
And you can finally be the one
To toss your babe above your head
And tuck him in his waiting bed
Make a toy or buy a drum
Your time was near, but did not come.

Who knew you would be standing nigh
And have to prematurely say goodbye?

This day is yours and yet it's not
The others don't see the many tears you fought
To hold within and look so strong
As you tried to do nothing wrong.

On this your special Father's Day
Remember your baby who would want to say,
"I love you Dad. You are the one.
I'll always be your daughter or son.
Feel my kiss upon your cheek
And know that someday I believe we'll meet.
Until then, let your tears come, (or not)
And love my mommy lots and lots."

S. Ilse 2009

Abuse has no excuse....

Hey... I am a part of several infant loss discussion groups around the world, and one of the things that I have been hearing about is men who are having trouble dealing with their grief and are turning to some level of violence (emotional or physical) as they become more and more angry.

Few people understand anger, helplessness, and low self-esteem better than I do. If you are experiencing any of those feelings (or others), my heart goes out to you. But I think it's important that everyone remember that even during the most difficult times, we have choices. While we can't change what has already happened and need to remember that our baby's deaths were not because of a personal failure, we must take responsibility for how we move forward.

As time passes, if you find yourself getting more and more angry about your situation and feeling hopeless, know that lashing out at your partner or other children is not a viable option. Most likely the way you are acting is not normal for you and may even be hard for you to recognize.... but if ANYONE is saying that your behavior has become hurtful, listen to them and be willing to take a long hard look at yourself and how you are coping. If you aren't willing to do that, you may find yourself alone. ASK YOURSELF -- Is that what you want? Is that what your baby would have wanted for you?

As difficult as it is, there are ways of letting off steam in a much more productive way.
At the very least, post a comment here or contact a friend or professional you trust.
Start taking steps to heal by allowing yourself to be honest,
Remember that you are not alone,
Know that you are not a terrible husband or father,
Understand that your pain is real and justified,
Realize that the choice to take positive steps is yours, and yours only

Finally, keep in mind that there are those of us who have gone down this road before you, and because of that, we want to be able to help in whatever way we can.

When you get "blindsided" by your grief

Sometimes you can think you have "moved on" and dealt with your sadness but then, suddenly out of nowhere, something triggers your grief.

No... you aren't going crazy.

I remember the first time it happened to me was a few weeks after Kathleen's death. It was a beautiful day and I had run to the grocery store alone to pick up some things. It was a good day and I was feeling fine. When I turned down the diaper aisle, my sadness hit me out of the blue. I could barely move and knew that I was going to break down if I didn't escape. I left my cart full of groceries, walked out of the store, and went home feeling like I was losing my mind.

Come to find out, that was not a particularly unusual thing to have happen and it didn't happen again for a long time, partially I think because I was aware it might.

For a lot of men, their dreams for their child that died focuses much more on the future than it does the newborn stage. I was speaking at a conference with Sherokee Ilse once and we had couples in the room draw a picture as they envisioned themselves that day with the child they had lost. Most women drew pictures of themselves cradling and rocking their baby. Men, on the other hand, were much more likely to draw pictures of themselves playing ball, seeing their child in ballet slippers, or walking a bride down the aisle.

I have another story to share about an incident that occurred much later in life, but I'll write about that later.

How about it, guys? Anything to share that might help a dad in the future keep from feeling like they are going crazy? Thanks!

Going to a support group ....

I resisted going to a support group. The thought of being in a room full of other sad people sounded depressing to me. I also was afraid that I would break down and cry -- which terrified me.

Monica and I didn't really argue, but we sure didn't agree as to whether we should go. Finally I agreed to go to one session, with the understanding that if I didn't like it, I wouldn't go back.

I was very nervous that first night, but relieved to see several other dads. Luckily for me, the man next to me spoke first about his loss and where he was at. As he spoke, he broke down and sobbed. He didn't even attempt to hold back. To my amazement, no one went running out the room, laughed at him, or in any way showed anything but sympathy and understanding toward him. That was a turning point for me, because I thought if he could do that, I wouldn't be afraid to. The support group became a place I looked forward to going -- not only because we made wonderful friends, but it was the one place I could let down and did not need to hold back. That man's tears were one of the greatest gifts I got at that time.

How about you? Did you go to a group? If so, how was it? If you didn't, do you regret it? Did your decision either way cause disagreements with your partner?

This is a big stumbling block for lots of guys. Let's give them some information to help them decide how they want to move forward. Thanks

Meaningful Keepsakes....

Hey guys, someone asked me today what I thought father's would like for Father's Day as a remembrance of their child that died. Anyone have suggestions? Are there some of you who would rather not have that acknowledged? If so, maybe share why it would be hard. Thanks!

nice YouTube song

Check out this song sent to me. It's entitled Smallest, Wingless, by Craig Cardiff.

You might have to cut and paste the link.


Faith's Lodge Retreat Center

I want to make sure you are aware of a beautiful retreat center in Northcentral Wisconsin. Faith's Lodge is a new facility specifically built for families who have a seriously ill child or who have had a child die. I attended the grand opening and can tell you that it's an absolutely gorgeous facility. The cost for staying at the lodge is extremely reasonable, but certain criteria must be met to go there. Below I have included some descriptive text from the Faith's Lodge web site as well as a link, so please check it out.

On May 8 and 9, 2009, Sherokee Ilse and I will be doing a program at the lodge for grieving couples. Sherokee and I recently published a book entitled "Couple Communication -- After a Baby Dies. Differing Perspectives," which addresses some of the issues we faced in our respective relationships with our spouses following our losses. During the workshop, we will be drawing on information from the book and hope to make the time at the retreat one of growing and healing for bereaved families. We hope you can join us.

Faith’s Lodge is a unique retreat for families who currently have a seriously ill child or have suffered the loss of a child. Located on 80 picturesque acres in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, Faith’s Lodge has eight individually designed guest suites that can each accommodate up to six people. Two suites adjoin to accommodate larger families and are handicapped accessible.

The mission of Faith's Lodge is to provide a place where parents and families facing the serious illness or death of a child can retreat to reflect on the past, renew strength for the present, and build hope for the future.

In its Northwoods setting, Faith’s Lodge provides temporary respite for guests by offering them a peaceful escape to refresh their minds and spirits, while spending time with others who understand what they are experiencing.


Trying to control the uncontrollable.....

Thinking back, I realize now that much of my behavior in the early hours after finding out that our daughter was dead, was the result of my need to stay in control. Throughout my life, I had come to believe that staying in control of situations and my life represented strength and the path to success.

I believed that staying focused on school work and doing my best would mean that I got into a good college, and eventually landed a job that made me good money and earned me the respect of my family and peers. To a large extent, I still believe that to be true. What I did not realize at the time, was that there were situations in life I could not control.

Even though I seemed to be living the American dream by doing well in school, graduating from a good college, starting my own business, marrying my high school sweetheart, buying a home, and starting a family after 5 years of marriage -- I could not stop my daughter from dying.

There was no preparing me for facing that reality. When I found out that our baby was dead, life as I knew it began to unravel. My first thought was that my "secrets" had finally caught up with me. Maybe the college partying had taken more of a toll than I realized. Maybe God was punishing me for thoughts that I had had or lies I had told.

When the guilt set in, I tried all that much harder to control what I could. I would not allow myself to cry -- therefore I avoided situations that might make me cry. I hurried along our time alone with Kathleen because I feared the longer I was with her, the harder it would be to say goodbye. I chose to let the hospital handle her remains, because I could not fathom going to her funeral. I didn't want to have a lot of family around at the hospital because I didn't want them to see me so vulnerable.

In other words, I was out of control. When the feelings of fear and sadness blended together, my behavior made it seem like I cared much less than I did. I think it's for this reason that I always point out to moms that they need to be careful not to judge their partner's feelings by their behavior. The old, "you can't judge a book by it's cover," adage rings real true in circumstances like these -- especially for men.

The really hard part is -- sometimes we don't even know why we are reacting the way we are. We are just following our instincts on a path we've never traveled before.

Make Decisions Together!

Sometimes in the moment of chaos and hurt, men will attempt make decisions for their spouse/partner in an attempt to help protect them. I did this, and it ended up being a mistake.

When Kathleen was born in the early 1980s, people still had the option (in Minnesota, anyway) of choosing whether they wanted the hospital to handle the baby's body for burial through a funeral home they worked with or whether they wanted to do it themselves through a funeral home they hired themselves. Even though Kathleen was full term, I was not sure what was acceptable. All I knew was that I was overwhelmed with sadness, scared to death of having a funeral where I would either cry or no one would show up, and wanting to protect Monica from having to make that decision. I signed the papers the hospital social worker brought me giving consent to the hospital and never asked Monica about it.

This is just one of many stories I've heard where decisions get made for noble reasons, but it can end up causing problems down the road.

Talk to each other. Don't assume. Don't take the "easy" way in an attempt to avoid your sadness. Long term, you'll likely regret it.

Any other stories? Comments?

Ladies -- feel free to ask questions

Even though this blog is intended to be a place for men to talk about how they're doing following the death of an infant, I want women to feel free to ask questions that might help them better understand their husband/partner. Sometimes just knowing that the reactions they are seeing are not necessarily unique, helps moms be able to be a little more patient and willing to approach their communication a little differently. I look forward to hearing from you.

What about the anger?

It's pretty normal to be angry following a difficult loss like that of losing a child. The question becomes, what do we do with that anger? Where do we direct it? How do we express it in a healthy way? How do we determine when it's getting out of hand and becoming destructive?

This is an important issue, guys, and one that can be dangerous to marriages if not dealt with. This is an anonymous way to talk about it, so I hope to hear from you. Thanks...

Brings back memories....

I co-lead a support group this past week at the hospital where Kathleen was born still 25-years ago. It's amazing how that pit in the stomach still recurs when I drive up to that building.

Being in a room with newly bereaved parents for a couple of hours is always bittersweet. I feel like I can give them hope just by being present so many years after our loss and showing them that life does go on and, while the emptiness never goes away, it does become more tolerable.

But, my heart breaks when I see couples questioning their relationship because of the differences they're experiencing as they move through their intense grief ... wondering if they should have another child, wondering whether their spouse is really hurting or simply moving on, trying to find the words to help begin the sometimes slow and painful process of learning to communicate and share their sadness rather than trying to make it disappear. I want so badly to just give them a road map that they can follow to get through this period intact. Knowing that they have to discover that on their own is a hard pill to swallow for someone like myself who just wants to take control and make it better.

If you read this, and are at a point similar to these newly bereaved parents, I hope you will bring yourself to share some of your hopes and fears on this site. I have little doubt that by being there for one another, your relationships can not only survive -- but actually thrive.

It may require stepping outside of your comfort zone -- but you must ask yourself whether one loss really needs to result in more losses. I say it doesn't.

Let me know what helps...

Since starting this blog, I've had some discussions with other dads about what they might find helpful in an online support resource like this blog. Several have mentioned that, while they use the internet for lots of things, they are somewhat uncomfortable using it for sharing feelings. I completely understand that and know that there will be varying opinions as to how people feel.

Do you have any suggestions as to what kind of discussion or format we might use on this blog that would feel safe and therefore make it easier to participate? I want this to be what is most helpful to the majority of you, so let me know! Thanks!

Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day, and therefore a day that we are expected to be a little more sensitive and romantic than we might usually be. Some view it as purely a commercial plot to get us to spend money on frivolous things like flowers (that die in few days), chocolates (that don't help anyone's waistline), or jewelry (that we can't afford).

Regardless of your feelings, if you have had a recent loss, be especially mindful of reaching out to your partner in an even more special way today. If money is tight, just commit to taking time away from the weekend chores and sitting with her to talk. If that sounds depressing because you both have been sad (or she, especially, has been sad), maybe make an agreement that for today you aren't going to talk only about the baby and the pain you've experienced with your loss. Instead, make a deal that today's conversation will be only to talk about the things you each fell in love with when you first met and all those things that made you want to grow as a couple and eventually have a child together.

If your relationship has been tense because you seem to be in different spots and you aren't feeling like you understand each other anymore, today would be a good day to start an honest dialogue about why you might act the way you do (which is quite often -- especially for men -- a very different thing than how you really feel), and your gift to each other is to explain that -- even if you think it should be obvious or that SURELY they must really understand. My bet is that there are some very wrong perceptions being carried with the both of you, and a simple walk together, sharing a chair by the fireplace, or going for coffee or a glass of wine, will go a long way in clearing some things up.

Give it some thought. I'm guessing it would be a very wise investment on this day we are especially reminded of romance and love. Good luck.

PS: If you read this and the day has passed or it didn't go as well as you wish it would have, there is nothing to say that you can't create your own Valentine's Day tomorrow or next week. And the beauty of that is that the chocolates will be half priced and the restaurants won't be as crowded!

What has been the most difficult issue you've faced since your baby died?

I would like to hear from you what issue has been the most difficult since your loss.

Is it communicating with your partner?

Is it your anger -- at your partner, caregiver, or God, etc.?

Is it the resulting behaviors of your grief, like drinking too much, isolating yourself, or seeking gratification outside your marriage?

Is it trying to be productive at work?

Is it regaining your sex life?

Let's talk about some of these issues and hopefully find some things that will be helpful in resolving them.

Grief In The Workplace

One of the things I hear from dads most often is that their return to the workplace was awkward and sometimes even painful because of the way they were treated by co-workers and managers. I would like to get a discussion going as to how men handled this experience and what they did to make it through.


Thanks for visiting my new blog. My hope is that we can use this space to talk about some of the issues that fathers face following a pregnancy loss or the death of a baby.

My wife and I experienced a full-term stillbirth 25 years ago, and it was an event that changed my life forever. At the time, I could not fathom how anything positive could come as a result of the pain I was experiencing. But over time I was better able to be open to discovering the gifts my daughter's short life brought me. Eventually I discovered ways that worked for me to express my grief, and by doing that, I learned much about myself, my relationships, and what was important to me.

My "therapy" happened to be writing. I guess that makes sense since I was a journalism minor in college and had been a writer and editor for both my high school and college newspapers. As a matter of fact, at the time of Kathleen's death, I co-owned a small publishing company in St. Paul, Minnesota, and we were the publishers of a community newspaper. Because infant loss was rarely discussed openly in the 1980s, I decided to write a feature article for our newspaper about the experience of being a young father whose baby died before birth. That article became the seed for future pieces that I would write on this topic.

Over the years I have written a couple of help booklets for dads and recently completed a book with Sherokee Ilse, author of Empty Arms and Miscarriage A Shattered Dream, on the topic of couple communication following the death of a baby. I have also spoken at both national and international bereavement conferences -- learning far more from the fathers I've talked to on those occasions than I ever taught them.

So.... that really is the purpose of this blog. To continue to learn and discover by getting to know more dads and sharing our varied experiences, triumphs and tragedies. Each time I develop a friendship with someone as a result of my work on this issue, I thank Kathleen one more time for making my life richer and more fulfilling. As a parent, I don't think there is anything more we could ask of our children.

I look forward to hearing from you!