Blog Takeover: Dani and Jason, Part Two
To honor Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in October, I asked my dear friend Dani, and her sweet husband, Jason, to share their journey with infant loss. Today, Jason shares a few words on what it is like to experience loss as a partner. His words are incredibly impactful and highlight the importance of understanding that partners grieve losses too -even if their pain isn't easily recognizable.
What was it like for you, as a dad, to experience a loss?
"Honestly, it was incredibly lonely. I remember the pain/grief I allowed myself to feel in the hospital. However, once I left that room, I felt like I needed to keep it all together. My wife and kids needed me, the church I was working at needed me, and (I hate it now) but the men I surrounded myself with did not understand it at all.
Letting it get to me felt like it wasn’t an option. I chose to deal with it on my own. Even today, when I talk about it, it hurts and feels just as raw as the day it happened. I know this is because I don’t talk about it enough and at the time, I felt like I had no one to really talk to. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, I just felt it was my role to be strong and supportive at the time. So, I gave myself the time in the hospital to cry but made the decision to pull it together once we left.
I also came to realize that my wife would have a decent amount of support, however, I would not have the same level of support. Most of the conversations around it were focused on her. People would ask me how she was doing (which is fine), but only ask me later how I was - as if they just remembered I was going through it as well. Once again, I don’t blame people, I just think it is how our society understands (or misunderstands) men and grief. "
What brought you comfort?
"My prayer life and faith were the things I held tightly to. I also love music and spent a lot of time listening to different worship music (a lot of songs from elevation worship). My oldest son was a great source of comfort, him being young and still needing us so much was great. It gave me moments where life felt normal. "
What do you wish your friends and family had done to support you?
"I am not sure; I feel like they did what they could. It became clear though that most people don’t know how to talk about the topic of infant loss. I don’t fault them, but it would have been nice if people listened a little more. I felt like the people who were willing to talk to me about it, primarily were interested in how Dani was doing. This is not a bad thing, but I feel like people just expected me to be okay. I wish someone would have given me the space to step outside of myself for a minute and lose it (breakdown) because I feel like I needed to feel the rawness of it.
I wish today they were still willing to talk about it. Sadly, after the first few months it just became a memory for most. Yet, it is something we will always have with us."
How do you celebrate your babies who have passed?
"I know we try to honor them every year with a remembrance walk and draw attention to the loss in October. We also tell our story in the hope of helping others who are going through similar loss. The best way for us to remember/honor them is to use our story to bring awareness/healing to those around us."
Any advice for other dads who may be going through loss?
"Don’t be afraid to be broken/vulnerable with those around you. Your family will need you to be strong, but don’t be so strong that you tune it out. Cry, be angry, talk to someone about it. In the end, dealing with it correctly, will make sure your wife/kids have someone who can help them through their own pain.
Find a group to be part of and (if you can) become an advocate for awareness and support of local walks/runs/events that address this area of life. It might feel awkward at times, but in the end you will be glad to know that you are not alone."
Thank you again to Jason and Dani for being so open and vulnerable in sharing their stories. You can follow Dani and Jason at @thehouseohio on Facebook and Instagram.