There is a box that lives on top of our dresser–one we’re both intimately familiar with. We don’t open it often. There is a kind of sacred time and space for it that we both respect, only opening its contents when we are spending time either alone or together in reflection with the Lord. Its contents hold the memories of one of the most painful times of our marriage–the loss of our first child, the Peanut who made you a daddy.
And while I didn’t say a word, I peeked in the bedroom the other day to see you carefully untying the sweet blue ribbon that holds it closed most days. I saw you gently remove the tiny knit hat made just for him. I watched as you held our only ultrasound picture, silently weeping and praying for life lost too soon, a life that heard only our voices before hearing the voice of Jesus.
Though it’s been nearly four years, I see your grief still with you.
It’s grief that isn’t talked about—miscarriage itself is a taboo subject, but especially for the daddies. In the weeks after our loss, everyone asked you how I was doing, how I was feeling, how I was holding up.
Rarely, if ever, did anyone ask how you were doing.
But I saw it. I saw the heart-wrenching cries of anger and pain, coupled with periods of depression. I saw you being strong for me, refusing to leave my side, and fielding phone calls from well-meaning friends that I simply couldn’t bring myself to answer. I saw you navigating your own grief while burdened with the additional pain of watching your wife spiral into a depression that mirrored the postpartum period.
Perhaps the most overlooked survivors of miscarriage are the fathers–the ones who struggle to give themselves permission to grieve.
The fathers who experience the trauma of losing the physical presence of a child and the emotional presence of a wife. In the days following our loss, you often told me how out of control you felt in the moment; somehow, watching me endure the physical pain convinced you that your experience wasn’t as traumatic. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There is nothing natural about death. Yes, death is part of our human experience. But when we remember Genesis and the Garden of Eden, death didn’t enter the world until the fall. Things are not as they should be in the world; this is why we grieve. We were created for life and purpose and to live for the glory of God, and when that is taken away, we are reminded that this world is not our home.
And so we grieve–daddies and mommies together.
But in our collective grief, we also know hope. We know our child is being held by Jesus. We know that in our pain and loss, God is strengthening our marriage, comforting us that we might one day comfort others who have lost a child.
We know that one day, our son will ask us about the box on the dresser, and we will sit down together and explain that he has a brother in Heaven who is happy and loved. I don’t know when that day will come; I imagine it is several years in the future when our pain is still real, but slowly continuing to be healed by a God who loves us more than we can imagine.
Until that day, I’ll hold you in your grief.