Fathers Mourn Losses, Too.

My beloved husband Milkman wrote this and asked me to share it today for Infant and Pregnancy Loss Day. 

I’m so thankful he put his thoughts in writing– dad’s need to be remembered when it comes to pregnancy and child loss as well.

Here’s what he has to say:
Death is a natural occurrence and it’s something that everyone will experience one day and yet, it’s often only talked about in hushed tones. Miscarriages and child loss are much more common occurrence than most people realize and yet they rarely, if ever, are discussed. The issue is even less discussed by or in reference to fathers. That’s why I’m writing today.

 A long time ago I heard that one of the worst things that could ever happen to a parent is to bury their child, and now that I’ve experienced it, I have to agree. Before I was married, I had friends that lost their baby to miscarriage early on in the pregnancy. While I was sad for them, I didn’t truly understand what it meant, until last year, when we lost our sweet little Ezra Eugene at 17 weeks. 

 The searing pain and loss cannot be fully expressed in words. The emotions a mother experiences are often more visibly expressed and realized, because women tend to express their emotions more outwardly. The emotions of the father however, are not as realized or discussed, because men often don’t have the same outward emotional expression as women. This may be because the father wants to be strong for his wife or it could be that he doesn’t know how to express what he’s feeling (I tried crying at various times and couldn’t). Whatever the reason, chances are the father’s hurting just as much as the mother and needs support too.  

To my fellow fathers who have lost a child, by miscarriage or other loss, no matter how you express your grief, know that you’re not alone. Support your wife, love your wife, be a shoulder to cry on, but also share with her because this is just as much your loss as it is your wife’s and chances are she wants to know that you’re dealing with it too.
In honor of infant and pregnancy loss day, I wanted to write to ask you friends and relatives of those who have experienced this loss, please remember the fathers. Don’t stop supporting the mothers who went through the physical pain of carrying their child for whatever period of time, but please remember that for many fathers like myself, a simple recognition, prayer or word of encouragement is needed and can go along way. 

 “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

of skulls, skalliwags, and babies

I didn’t grow up in a family that glorified death.  We had a realistic view of death, and death was a real part of our lives and my growing up.  I remember seeing my first casket as a very young child.  My Great Aunt Doris’ husband had died, and I was being held by my papa as we walked past the casket.  I saw many open caskets as a kid and a teen.  We went to a lot of funerals.  We went to a lot of wakes.  The reasoning is three-fold I suppose.  Part of this had to do with being a part of a very large family, particularly on my mother’s side.  We had a lot of extended family, and when you know a lot of people, there are going to be a larger amount of people dying in your environment.  Another part of this had to do with being a pastor’s kid.  My dad performed a lot of weddings, services, and indeed, funerals.  The last reason why I have been to so many funerals, was because my parent’s always told my sisters and I,  that if you are available, and you knew the person or the family of the person who died, you should do everything you can to attend their funeral.

My mother, who is perhaps where I get a bit of my morbidity (Sorry for ratting you out mom, but a woman who channels Morticia Addams, is just not the norm for most moms! Haha!), talked about death a lot.  However, she would be the first to tell you that her reasoning for talking about, and even longing for it sometimes, is not based in morbidity, rather in a desire to go home to Heaven.  She talks about brain tumors less and less since having grandkids, and talks more of the perfection of God’s timing in all things, even so she never made death seem scary.  It was always talked about as a homecoming, because of her faith, she has something to look forward to when that last breath escapes her lungs, and she gets to say goodbye to back pain, housework, and the things of this world, to meet her Maker.

Death is not a scary thing to me, really.  Now the PROCESS of dying?  That is another thing altogether.  I am terrified of dying in my sleep, I think that you must be in a horrible state of panic if you are sleeping peacefully and then you can’t wake up as your soul departs and your body fights to stay alive.  I’d rather be shot in the head in my sleep, or something nice like that.  Don’t even know it’s coming, and BAM!  You’re in Gloryland!  But that’s a topic for another day.

Why do I bring all this up, and what does it have to do with anything, particularly relating to kids?  Well, as many of you know, I am expecting a baby boy come March.  As I have been picking out décor, and drooling over baby clothes, as so many first time moms do, I am drawn to all things black, red, skull, and pirate related.  I have had a long love affair with accessories and décor in that vein, and even my wedding had a pirate flair.  I wore a red, black, and white dress for goodness sakes.  Being a So. Cal kid, and spending a lot of time at Disneyland, my favorite ride has always been Pirates.  Peter Ustinov in Disney’s Blackbeard’s Ghost?  One of my first (of many) old man crushes.  My room as a young adult woman was not plastered with Brad Pitt or chic design.  It had (and has!) rich colors, maps, way too big prints of old art in gaudy ornate frames, a ship’s wheel, and candelabras.  I listen to a lot of metal, and like both my parents, I dress primarily in black.  I love scary movies and books, and Dia de los Muertos art is some of my favorite.

Naturally, when preparing to dress and adorn a baby, my eye is drawn to tiny skulls, little pirate boots, stripey baby clothes, big krakens, leather jackets, and Jolly Rodger baby blankets.  I think baby blue is an abomination to my son’s masculinity, and pastels are anything but stimulating for his surroundings.  I have come under some scrutiny for such likes, and my husband, whose tastes are FAR different from mine, and I have had no few talks on the matter of love for such “dark” things.  As baby showers are planned for me (I am so thankful for such loving women in my life!) the big topic seems to be “Are pirate crossbones acceptable for a baby shower!?”

I must ask a question to those who think that other décor for baby is acceptable.  Noah’s Ark?  Oh my gosh.  Man becomes exceedingly sinful, God decides to destroy the entire planet and kill everyone but 8 people and a couple of each animal, then those 8 people and countless smelly animals have to stay in a boat for over a year.  Let’s make a nursery theme for Junior about God’s judgement on the earth! YAY!  Okay, another, how about safari.  You wanna talk about scary??  Lions eat people.  I mean not every day, but they can.  And elephants?  Some of the most dangerous animals to come face to face with if you are in the African wilderness.  Let’s not even talk about monkeys.  Holy cow, those things are scary. Fairy tales?  Have you ever read the real Snow White or Goldilocks?  Terrifying.  Fairies or mermaids?  Those chicks are dangerous!   And how about clowns?  Let’s put it this way, the sight of clowns has been known to send me into tears and dry heaving.

I do know that pirates were bad guys.  I don’t think we should glorify death.  I don’t want my child to be morbid… okay, maybe a little.  I don’t want my child turning into a Satanist.  I don’t want him to be a self-absorbed emo kid.  I know full well that I could expose him to all the things I love, and strap him to a chair at age 12 (because as much as I love Tim Burton, my kids aren’t allowed to watch him til they are older) and make him watch Nightmare Before Christmas, and cry with me when Jack ruins Christmas, take him on Pirates 3 times every time we go to DL, and read him lots of Grimm’s fairy tales while we listen to Rachmaninoff, and he might still turn into a preppy kid who likes to play golf.

Fact of the matter is, when you are a baby, you have to wear whatever your parents put you in, you are at their mercy for style (Which is why my mom and I made him a ridiculous looking bunny hat, which will make him look so incredibly stupid and cute), and he can’t say anything about it.  There is a fine line, and I don’t want to cross it if the other side of that line is glorifying evil and death.  I don’t want the little man to be afraid of his surroundings.  I want him to have bright and cheery surroundings, and to be surrounded by love and happy people.  I want to be half as good of a mother as my own mama was, and give him lots of attention and teach him about everything from our faith to morality, cars to music, character to the dangers of women (hehe!).  I want to teach him about death and life, pain and joy, suffering, and merrymaking.  I want him to know and love the Lord has his father and I do.  I just don’t think that putting him in a black t-shirt, jeans, a little Jolly Rodger bib, and black converse is going to keep that from happening.

So, if you disagree, that’s okay.  I don’t mind.  If you’d rather get him a pair of ducky slippers than a vampire teeth pacifier (thank you, Uncle Ronald!) then I will be more than grateful.  Every person has their own convictions to follow, liberties and limitations, but as long as we are united in the important things, that’s what matters.  I can’t wait for him to experience the diversity in the personalities, culture differences, and surroundings in which he will be raised!