Talking to the experts:  Introducing Paula Levy
Men, Women, Miscarriage And Grieving Styles
By: Paula Levy

Miscarriage is an emotional and confusing time for most couples.  There are few societal rituals
for grieving for a miscarriage and the depth of this pain is not well recognized in our culture.   In
addition, couples have little or no physical existence of their child (pictures, toys, memories) and
therefore it becomes difficult for them to validate their loss in the usual ways.  Add to this mix the
fact that women and men usually grieve differently which can cause miscommunication, hurt and
disappointment between them.  As a result, a mother and father can have vastly different
reactions to a miscarriage.  In many cases, the mother doesn’t understand why her husband is
not experiencing significant grief and the father doesn’t understand why his wife is so
devastated.  This can have profound implications for the marriage.


Couples who have the strength to explore their pain over the miscarriage can share an intimate
bond that can make them closer and stronger as a couple.  Coming to understand and respect
that people grieve differently is an important step in healing the hurt experienced at the time of
the miscarriage.  Each person’s response needs to be validated and honored.  Both parents
need unconditional love and acceptance at this time.  Both the woman and the man need to ask
each other what they need at this difficult time.  It’s important to try to understand a partner’s
perspective and to show empathy for his or her experience.   Sometimes the couple may decide
to create a memorial or ritual to honor their child.  For example, together they can write a letter or
poem to their child.  Healing occurs over time and the couple needs to be patient with each
other.  With love and support, the couple can grow closer as they heal.   

To read more testimonials about how men and women grieve differently, visit our blog:
Bonding: A mother has a unique bond with her
child virtually from the moment of conception.  
She sees her body changing, she feels the
effects of pregnancy and eventually experiences
the movement of the baby inside her.  For many
mothers, the baby they are carrying is a living
being and when they miscarry they feel as if they
have lost a part of themselves.
Bonding: A father can share in that joy as his
baby grows by seeing his baby on an ultrasound
and feeling the baby kicking.  However, he
cannot experience the deep maternal love that
begins at conception.  So a father has had a
different experience of the pregnancy when there
is a miscarriage.
Feelings: From the moment of conception, a
woman is a mother experiencing the miracle of
life.  When a miscarriage occurs, a mother
tumbles through the sadness, loneliness and
grief of losing the child.  The deep bond between
mother and child is disturbed.  Some have a crisis
regarding their sense of purpose and the
challenge to their womanhood.  Many women feel
guilty because their baby died and the
experience challenges their spirituality.  They
may have sleep disturbances, eating problems,
reduced sexual desires and poor energy levels.  
They may experience a biting mixture of anger,
depression and anxiety.
Feelings: Fathers experienced a wide range of
grief, but generally their emotional pain is less
severe than the mother’s pain.  Understandably,
a father’s grief is proportional with the length of
the pregnancy, as the father has had more of an
opportunity to bond with his child.  Fathers can
feel an enormous sense of helplessness after a
miscarriage, since they generally feel responsible
for solving family problems but failed to do so in
this critical situation.  They want to help their
partner and child but feel powerless to do so.  
Most men want to understand the cause of the
miscarriage but may not receive an answer, and
they sometimes feel guilty that they didn’t take
better care of their partner.  In many cases, they
were excluded from decisions or procedures that
their wives experienced because of the
Expressing Emotions: Women tend to seek
emotional closeness by wanting to talk or be
physically close to her partner or others.  As the
woman tries to make that emotional connection
the man may pull away.  As the man pulls away,
the woman pursues further.  This dance can be
very painful for the couple.
Expressing Emotions: There is societal pressure
for men to repress expressions of emotions.  
Therefore men often seek emotional space to
deal with their emotions.  A miscarriage leaves
men in unchartered territory and they don’t know
what to say or do to alleviate their partners’ pain,
so they remain quiet.  Fathers carry the
additional burden of needing to be “strong” for
the family.  As a result, they feel pressured to
keep their emotions inside and be the stable
force for the family.  They don’t want to further
burden their partners by expressing their own
fear and sorrow.  Friends and family rarely think
to ask how the father is feeling after a
miscarriage.  Perhaps if they did ask, they would
receive a response of “lonely and ignored.”
Back to “Normal”: For many woman who have
experienced a miscarriage the idea of “back to
normal” never happens.  There is life before the
miscarriage and life after the miscarriage.  For
many woman a “new normal” is where they end
Back to “Normal”: Frequently, men deal with their
painful feelings by being more committed to their
work.  They are able to return to their daily lives
more quickly than their partner and this can
cause the couple to feel out of sync.  
Re-Connecting: Women may avoid sex because it
is a painful reminder of their loss.  She may not
understand why her partner feels the need to
reconnect by having sex.
Re-Connecting: Frequently men want to have sex
as a way of connecting with their partner.  Sex is
a way for men to feel intimate and close with a
woman.  When this way of connecting does not
happen, fathers are sad that their partners are
distant and they can feel abandoned and an
enormous sense of loss.