October is a month of awareness, as per Wikipedia it appears to be designated for more causes than any other month. There is a cause in particular that speaks most to me at the moment. As I’m a pastor, you may expect me to say that it’s “Pastor Appreciation Month.” I appreciate being appreciated but the cause on my mind right now is National Infant Loss and Miscarriage Awareness Month.
I’ve seen some posts and I was even tagged in one about this commemoration. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Hannah. But as I have seen these posts, many of them implore the reader to pray for the women who have lost babies. I know that it’s different for a mother who has lost their baby. The baby was literally a part of them for the time the baby/babies was carried and I know in that sense there is certainly a stronger connection. Having said that, I have noticed that little to none is said about the dads in the scenario. Now, know that I’m not writing this to bring attention to myself. My intention here is to bring awareness that the dads hurt too.
As I think about our loss of Hannah, I remember how we received tremendous support from our family and our friends. However, generally speaking, people do often forget about the dad. As I acknowledged above, it is different for the mother. Dads, as the stubborn men we tend to be, aren’t as good at showing our emotions and we may look strong. I can promise you that, even if on the inside, we are crying.
We need to know that we are not forgotten when this tragedy strikes. We need to know that we matter.
In part because of the posts I’ve seen, I’ve been pondering what I won’t get to do since Hannah didn’t survive. One of the things that sticks out is that I only got to hold her after she had died. I saw her while she was technically still alive but did not get to hold her during those moments due to the attempts to keep her alive. I only got to hold my baby after she had died. This was not easy to accept.
I’ve not shared this with many people but before she died I had a brief moment where I wanted to baptize her before she died but this was fleeting and gave way to grief very quickly. I suppose part of the reason I had this thought was because when I realized that she was not going to make it, I knew that we would not get to have her baptized by her grandfather, who is an Elder in the United Methodist Church, on Easter Sunday as we had planned.
I won’t get to hear her first words, watch her first steps or dress her up for Halloween for the first time. I won’t get to kiss her boo-boos, hold her when she is upset, or experience her laughing at the silliness in life. I won’t get to be her t-ball coach, softball coach, or otherwise support her in whatever sports she may have wanted to play. I won’t get to jump in piles of leaves with Hannah, make mud pies, or help her to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation. I won’t get to help her with homework (and let her teach me how to do algebra), cheer her on as she earns good grades, and teach her the importance of those good grades. I won’t get to teach her life lessons, about not giving up, and about being positive. I won’t get to teach her about Jesus and how much He loves her… Although I think now she could teach me more about Him than any of my seminary professors would ever be able to. I will never be able to teach her how to drive, about the importance of using turn signals, and the joy of taking a drive on a sunny Fall day with the windows down and the radio up. I won’t get to put the fear of God in her first date when he comes to pick her up (the muddy shovel in the corner and shotgun above the front door would have sent a clear message!). I won’t get to walk her down the aisle, and enjoy grandchildren who call her mom.
I will miss out on raising a daughter. I will miss out on being her daddy.
As we mourn for and with those who have lost their children through infant death or miscarriage, let us remember that the moms are certainly in deep grief. But let us also remember that dads hurt too. The dads are grieving and they need to know that they are supported, loved, and being prayed for as much as the moms are. Dads hurt. Dads grieve the loss of their children.
We need to know that you know that.