Mother’s Day is pretty much the worst day of the year for those of us who didn’t get to be moms. But what about Father’s Day and the men in our lives? Do they feel the loss of fatherhood in the same way we feel it for motherhood?
Some of you have expressed frustration with partners who don’t want to talk about the loss and grief we women go through, or who seem to have accepted a life without children much quicker than we have. I know I saw a difference in the way Mr. Fab and I dealt with grief (or appeared to not deal with it at all) so I thought I’d do a little research on the topic of men and grief to see what I could learn.
Turns out that, when it comes to grief, men really are from Mars, as opposed to our home planet of Venus. They’ve often been taught to keep their emotions in check and brush grief under the rug in the hopes that it will just go away (which, of course, it doesn’t.) As a result, we tend to interpret their reluctance to grieve openly as a lack of feeling. But that doesn’t mean they don’t feel the loss just as keenly as we do.
Here’s what I learned about how men grieve:
- Men often prefer to grieve alone, rather than openly, in a support group setting, or even with a partner.
- Men are more likely to withdraw and to be introspective than to do “grief work.”
- Men are more likely to express grief physically with actions or activities.
- Men sometimes deal with grief by planning for the future rather than dealing with the present situation or looking back at the past.
- Men sometimes let grief out in the form of irritability or anger.
In other words, just because your partner isn’t hanging out with other men in online support groups, sharing stories, and lending an empathetic ear to other men, it doesn’t mean he isn’t grieving the loss of fatherhood in his own way.
I’d be interested to hear how your partner has dealt with his grief. And if you’re a grieving man reading this, we’d love to hear your point-of-view.
Cathy B says
My husband did not grieve at all. He already had two children and they were grown. He felt sadness for me. He said he wanted it for me (the implication being not for himself.) He moved on very quickly. At least he was honest about that part of it.
He dedicated the song “Silent Lucidity” to me on the day of our last failed attempt. Except now we are no longer living as man and wife, so it no longer holds true. He’s not here to watch over me like he promised.
I sincerely hope all of you continue to have strong relationships and you cling to each other. May you find true happiness together.
Like Cathy’s situation my husband already had kids. In my situation, my miscarriages were barely a blip on my husband’s radar. When his brother died, my husband retrieved. In other instances of grief, he’s not withdrawn, he talks about it. So age, maturity level play a part. As with women, there is no cookie cutter way for men to grieve, at least with my husband.
My husband told me that he was sad for me but he was ok with it. Gave him more freedom to do what he/we like to do; travel. He said having kids would make it hard to travel and he felt that maybe he would have come to resent the kids from keeping him from something he liked to do.
He also didn’t have a close relationship with his father. He pretty much hated him. His father had his own business. He felt more as a child laborer than a son.
He has always been there for me though my grief but he was ok not having kids.
Brandi Lytle says
With Father’s Day approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about this. I know our infertility and childlessness was hard on my husband, but I also know that he definitely grieved differently than me. Your points above were spot on for my husband…
He has actually agreed to share his childless not by choice story on my blog this Wednesday. I cannot express how much it means that he is willing to share his side of our story, as he does not normally share openly about our journey or his feelings about it. If you’d like to read a male’s perspective, it will be posted at http://notsomommy.com this Wed, 13 June.
As one of the few childless infertile men out there I can just share my experience. Father’s Day for me is one of the toughest days of the year (along with Mothers Day knowing what I wasn’t able to provide my wife). It’s a reminder of what I’m not able to experience in life and no matter how hard I try I can’t change it.
It’s been 5 years since my initial diagnosis and 3 years since our Parenthood journey ended. In that time I experienced a serious episode of depression that almost destroyed my marriage and life. I acted outwardly and pushed people away that wanted to help me. I knew I was hurting but didn’t know how to explain it to the rest of the world. It took almost two years of therapy to understand why I was hurting and how I needed to change how I approached life by staying present and not so much planning for a future that wasn’t going to be.
Thank you so much for putting together this piece.
Brandi Lytle says
I’m so sorry for your struggles, Greg. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I pray this weekend doesn’t bring you too much pain…
Father’s Day doesn’t seem to bother my husband at all. When we first got married 13 years ago, and were trying, he would be disappointed every month when my period came, but that didn’t last long. Somewhere in the midst of 3 failed IVFs and 2 failed adoptions, he decided he doesn’t care about being a father anymore. Regardless of that, Father’s Day has never bothered him. That has tended to tick me off, because Mother’s Day still bothers me so much that I ran out of church crying this last Mother’s Day (I usually skip that day, but figured at 40 years old now, I’d be fine this year. Boy was I wrong!). He has always gone to church on Father’s Day and has never felt any compunction about taking whatever gift they have for the dads. Basically, he’s totally happy with not having kids. I can’t relate and I’ve often resented him because he genuinely doesn’t care, doesn’t grieve, doesn’t want kids, and can’t understand that I still do.
My ex husband expressed he did not want to have kids with me. And I accepted. Was really, really hard for me.
Shortly after our divorce, he remarried and then…he became father again…
And he sent me the picture of his son…
Torture, that’s how I felt… I don’t know how I survived that….
Praying for all of us !!!!
As a childless man I can say that Father’s Day is the only day of the year that I actually look forward to ending so I can go back to work Monday. I dread this day. My girlfriend already has a son and doesn’t want another child. She’s very kind, bought me a card that says Happy Father’s Day from the Cat (I have a cat I adore). She got another card telling me how much she loves me and planned a surprise for later today. She is sincere and wonderful. But you know what I really want on Father’s Day? I want what the fathers get, the honor and admiration of being a good father. She asked me not long after we started dating if I ever regret not having kids. I said yes and she replied “you would have been a great dad”. It was like a dagger to my heart to hear that. My best friend just got married last month and his wife is pregnant. He said it too, “buddy, you would have been the best dad”. Everyone who knows me says that. And its true! I would have been a great dad. So why can’t I be treated that way and get the same “credit” as a father. Why can’t I get a Father’s Day card that talks about how fantastic I would have been AS A DAD, not just as a good guy. It’s a very painful day for me today. She’s off to church with her Dad & Mom now. They invited me to come. I wouldn’t dare step foot in church on Father’s Day. But I would just like once not to be excluded. Can’t I be honored as a man for my character to be a fantastic dad even if I’m not one?