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.


  1. Hi Tim, I would just like to say thank you for writing the guys' perspective on grief, it takes alot of courage. I am very sorry for your loss. We lost out triplets on March 6, 2009 and have been getting by, but its hard when he and I grieve differently. There is so much support for women out there, and not alot of men. I actually just started a free forum for Dads grieving the loss of a child(ren) if you are interested, Im trying to get it to be an active forum. You can read more about us on out tribute blog to the girls, and there is a link to the mens forum on there. Happy Fathers Day to you :) Nan Here is our blog site:

  2. The issue of self-esteem is one that I struggle with till this day. It has been over three years since the loss of my son and I still question myself. As you mentioned I feel that I should have protected my wife and son. I could have asked more questions during prenatal visits and pushed the Dr.'s and Nurses to double check records and be more direct. Now I know that all pregnancies are not all happy, and touchy feely good times. I feel that as a man, one of my responsibilities handed down to me from the beginning of time is to provide and protect my loved ones. A few things that have helped me to build my self-esteem are diving into my art, donating works to other parents like us, and making goal lists. It feels great to check that little box once you have completed a task no matter home small it seems. I have yet to meet another father who has experienced a child loss or one that is willing to talk about it anyway, but I want to thank you sir for your service and commitment.

  3. Thanks once again for your comments. I think a lot of us struggle with that sense of failure for somehow not being able to prevent the unpreventable. But, when some of us can openly share those feelings, it has a tremendous impact on others who have difficulty even understanding quite what they are feeling -- much less verbalizing it.

    I also know what you mean about checklists and feeling like you have accomplished something. In the weeks after Kathleen's death, I mowed the lawn several times a week. I did that in part so I could be alone and process my feelings, but also because I needed to do something that had a clear beginning and a clear end -- and looked nice once it was finished. It had a lot to do with needing to feel like there WAS something in my life that I could control -- even though I could not control what happened to my daughter.

    I hope you will continue to use this blog (or other ones) to share all that you have learned as well as to seek support from others. It's by making these connections that our children continue to help us grow.

  4. Hey everyone,

    My wife and I lost my daughter on father's day. She was our first and we've really been riding a rollercoaster of grief. Thanks for the courage of having this blog/space for people who are undergoing this special kind of trauma.

    I haven't thought much about self esteem. All my questions have revolved around why it was us. I've been struggling not to be angry at other people for having children.

    Perhaps it's linked with self esteem but I feel a sense of shame around other people. How could it have happened keeps firing in my head. I wonder if people look at me and think 'oh that's the guy whose daughter passed away.' It is a helplessness that seems to be cruelly designed to crush a man.