By Still Standing Contributor Natalie Oldham
Dear Grieving Daddy,
I know you’re often asked how your partner is; people paying little mind to how you are.
I know that can feel like a dagger through your heart and a punch to your gut as you think to yourself ‘what about me? I lost my baby too’ …
I know that you have moments where you’re on your knees on the floor, sobbing so hard your chest physically aches.
I know that you often sit in your car, alone, with tears streaming down your face, afraid to show the world you’re crying.
I know that you sometimes well up, have a lump form in your throat, and force yourself to stop the tears from falling because you feel you have to be ‘strong.’
I’m sorry you’re so overlooked when it comes to your baby dying.
I’m sorry that no one seems to pay attention to how you feel.
I’m sorry that the world and the people around you don’t understand that you, too, are dealing with an indescribable sense of loss.
I’m sorry that people don’t know that you, also, would give your very last breath to watch your sweet baby take their first.
I’m sorry that you may be viewed by others as being ‘weak’ if you publicly mourn the death of your baby.
I could not imagine your pain.
I could not imagine having to watch my partner in agony for hours upon hours, in the knowledge you’re both waiting for your sleeping baby to be born.
I could not imagine having to wrap my arms around my partner, who is cradling our baby as their life support machine is about to be switched off, and feeling like I cannot cry because I have to be strong.
I’m sorry that ‘the call’ is often left to you, that you’re usually the person to have to pick up the phone and ring everyone you know, to break the news to them that your baby won’t be coming home.
I’m sorry that you have to say those words on repeat:
We’ve lost the baby.
She’s had a miscarriage.
They’re turning off her life support.
There was nothing they could do for him.
I couldn’t imagine having to say those words out loud, moments after my son died, nor moments before.
I want you to know that, even with tears streaming down your face, you are undeniably strong.
I want you to know that you don’t have to be ‘strong’ as the rest of the world perceives strength all the time – if some days all you can do is breathe, then simply breathing is enough.
I want you to know that survival, alone, takes unbelievable strength – if some days all you do is survive, don’t feel guilty for that, it’s enough.
I want you to know that you matter.
You are walking this journey of grief alongside your partner.
You, too, wear these uncomfortable shoes that you cannot sell or get rid of.
You, also, stumble your way on this path hoping and praying that you reach the destination of ‘feeling okay’ again.
You, too, mourn.
You, too, grieve.
You, too, hurt.
I want you to know that I see you; I hear you; you aren’t alone.
I hope, one day, ‘the call’ can be taken out of your hands if you feel it needs to, and someone else makes it on your behalf.
I hope, one day, you feel you can cry without judgment.
I hope, one day, it becomes the norm for people to ask how you feel when they ask you how your partner is coping.