A. MALE/FEMALE RELATIONSHIPS
1. Most relationships are intrinsically difficult.
HE: ``Big Picture'' --- SHE: ``Details''
HE: ``Thinks'' --- SHE: ``Feels''
HE: ``Logical'' --- SHE: ``Intuitive''
HE: ``Copes Internally'' --- SHE: ``Copes Externally''
HE: ``Sighs'' --- SHE: ``Cries''
2. Men, Women & Grief
a. Myths of Parent's Grief
1. Men Grieve Differently Than Women
2. Men Need To Express Their Feelings
3. Both Parents Are Grieving Over The Same Event
b. Five Facts of Parent's Grief
1. The intensity of His grief is dependent on his
pre-death relationship with the fetus, baby or child.
2. The intensity of Her grief is dependent on the place
the pregnancy or child held in her hopes, dreams, future,
self-esteem and self-worth.
3. Most fathers resolve (or make peace) with their grief in
3 to 6 months.
4. Most mothers need 9 to 24 months (or more!) to resolve their
5. Most men truly feel their spouse need professional help after
3 to 6 months.
B. POTENTIAL RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS
1. SHE needs to talk about the event. She goes over it time and
again trying to gather every possible detail to explain Why and How.
HE feels uncomfortable dealing on such a feeling level and finds
excuses to avoid such confrontations.
2. SHE takes comfort in her faith. ``God's Will'' may be the
only explanation that gives any meaning to the event.
HE is angry with God, feeling that the event invalidates his religion.
3. SHE often wants to visit the grave.
HE feels an aversion to visiting the cemetery.
4. SHE withdraws, reads books on grief, and writes as a means of
expressing her pain.
HE throws himself into his work, hobby, or other activities
to keep busy and avoid the pain.
5. SHE expects him to grieve and behave the same as she
does and thinks he doesn't care when he doesn't.
HE needs space to grieve in his own way and resents her for
imposing her feelings on him.
6. SHE seeks Support Groups as an outlet for her expression.
HE wants to avoid showing his pain in front of other people;
7. SHE has no interest in Sex and resents his desire for it at
HE wants to make love for the comfort and reassurance that
comes through intimacy.
8. SHE knows that her life is irrevocably changed and will
never be the same again.
HE wants her and their life back the way it was before the
9. THEY can sometimes compete with each other to see who is
grieving the hardest.
10. THEY seek to escape the event by taking a vacation, moving,
changing jobs, etc.
11. THEY seek to numb their pain through Alcohol, Drugs,
Shopping, Extramarital affairs, or Another Child.
12. THEY are angry with the Doctor or other authority figures
involved with the event and have, more than once, discussed
13. THEY feel betrayed by their family and friends through their
perceived lack of understanding and caring.
14. THEY both feel the other person is, in some way, to blame for
15. THEY are both so caught up in their own grief that there is
no recognition or understanding of the grief experienced by their
children or extended family members.
C. WHAT CAN BE DONE
1. Meet with the potentially, or newly, bereaved parents as soon
2. Explain to them the statistical potential for a negative
marital outcome during the bereavement period.
3. Counsel them about the grieving needs and expectations of each
other and the importance of recognizing and allowing each other the
natural expression of their grief.
4. Explain the Potential Relationship Problems so that they can
recognize patterns that may develop.
5. Encourage and help HER find a local Support Group where she can
find others who will share her experiences with her.
6. Encourage HIM to go to a couple of meetings with her only as an
observer. Tell them both that there will be no pressure put on him
whatsoever to actively participate. Most men will inevitably
participate if you can just get them there!
7. Discourage the making of any decisions that will impact any
important area of their life for one year!.
8. If there are other children, encourage them to express and
discuss their grief openly and honestly, give concern to how the
child is coping with the experience, and recognize that the child is
9. Help move them towards an awareness and acceptance of each
others grief using the following 3 step guide:
1. Compartmentalize The Event
* List and discuss those elements of grief unique to Her.
* List and discuss those elements of grief unique to Him.
* List and discuss those elements of grief common to Both.
2. Encourage Individual Grief
* Help her give him permission to express his grief in his own way.
* Help him give her permission to express her grief in her own way.
3. Encourage Mutual Grief
* Encourage them to establish periods during each week
where they can express and share their common feelings.
* Encourage them to establish periods during the week for
intimacy and closeness were the loss is not discussed.
* Encourage them to establish periods during the week or
month for family activities which include the children, if any.