Gentlemen, A Word, Please
Articles featured on Bella Online’s Bereavement page are not written just for the Ladies. We know it’s not generally men’s inclination to participate in such delicate subjects. We also know you may not have been made to feel welcome in some conversations. We know you have ways different from ours to handle tough times.
But be assured we do know they are tough times for you. We know you grieve. We know you feel the loss. You perhaps feel, at those times, that you must remain the strong one, enabling your partner to fall apart.
You are hereby encouraged to make your voices heard. Talk about the pain and sorrow you feel, with whomever you are comfortable discussing it. Keeping all of that inside has an ugly habit of coming back to bite you, in ways that may not be initially connected with the event.
A man in his thirties in the hospital chatted with a chaplain. Somehow it came up that he had never had his Bar Mitzva. He had studied and prepared for an entire year, very much looking forward to this rite of passage into adulthood. At the last minute, his parents cancelled it. He didn’t know why, and never asked. He hadn’t spoken to his parents since then. The anger and hurt in his words were blatant. The patient admitted it broke his young heart. The chaplain offered to contact a Rabbi and arrange a Bar Mjtzvah in the hospital. The man refused. When the chaplain asked if they could discuss his parents, the chaplain was summarily dismissed. By the way, the man was a patient in the Cardiac Unit.
Read what this father wrote. It took him 17 years to be able to talk about it.
“The first reaction was shock. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. Here I was in a relatively new marriage and I now learned that we are expecting twins! Six months into the pregnancy, however, our world changed once again.
My wife began to feel what she described as “cramps” in her abdomen. Once she was examined we learned that the babies were on their way… 3 months early. Little did we know the painful drama that was to follow.
In the early morning hours of the next day, Lliam and Nicholas were born. Each weighed a fraction over 2 pounds and were immediately placed on ventilators to assist their breathing. The following 30 days became the toughest test of faith and endurance that any parent can imagine. Nicholas was diagnosed with a condition resulting from under developed lungs. With the help of a ventilator and IV medications he rallied several times during the weeks that followed. However he eventually surrendered his spirit to the Lord.
This was the darkest hour of my life. As Nicky lay in his mother’s arms and she rocked him to his final sleep, I watched the monitors indicate that life was slowly and relentlessly slipping away. In my life there has never been a time in which I have felt more helpless and insufficient. The woman that I loved with all of my heart was holding the child that I was prepared to die for. And as Nicholas breathed his last breath… and as the monitor recorded his last heart beat, there was absolutely nothing I could do to rescue him or to save my wife from her unimaginable pain. I was broken.
I wish someone had given me permission to grieve. When you are grieving yourself, but are a protector and provider for others, it’s difficult to muster internally the permission to go through the process. You keep “strong” for those loved ones who are suffering, and deny your own needs.
For months after his birth, and often to this very day, I wonder what it would have been like to have our gift of twins. I feel cheated sometimes still. What a remarkable gift to be given…only to lose half of the gift so soon. It is a blessed curse.
After three long months in Intensive Care, we were able to bring Lliam home. He is now approaching his 17th birthday. This day that marks the beginning of the end of one life…and the beginning of another. I’m not sure that I have totally grasped the significance of these events in my life. But I do know that I am blessed beyond my ability to comprehend.”
Mother’s Day stirs up a lot of emotions –for men and women - around child death, parent death, abortion, adoption, miscarriage, infertility, and surrogacy. You are hereby given permission to grieve. Let this be the year you reach out. It’s never too late to begin healing.
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