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.