Child loss is a lonely world, you go through it alone or at best with your partner. You and your partner are the only ones who will get what is going on in your circumstances. You could have 100’s of family and friends but when it comes to child loss unless one of them has experienced quite possibly one of the most tragic things we as humans can suffer, then chances are your family and friends will not be much use.
Now imagine being an Angel dad. Men, in general, do not process emotions very well, we do not know how to talk about the things that bother us. We tend to want to fix things, and the one thing we can’t fix is child loss. From a young age, we are taught that big boys don’t cry and that we have to get on with it. Grief is very complex and, unlike many women, we cannot process our emotions very well, and we feel we certainly can’t talk to others about it.
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Here in the UK suicide is one of the biggest killers to men aged 15 and over at a rate of 78% of males to 22% of females.
It’s important to remember that everything you are feeling is normal, it does not make you weak to have these feelings, and there are others out there to help you make some sense of this. Communication is key, and you will need to speak with your partner about these feelings to help support one another.
A 2017 survey by Daddy’s With Angels of 303 males showed that 21% of angel dads attempted self-harm following a loss, 80% said their mental health declined following their loss, and nearly 80% attributed anger issues to their loss.
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We lost Oliver in 2013 due to hemorrhaging of his lungs at 19 hours old after being born at 27 weeks, following this I was offered no support apart from some tablets by my GP. Nearly a year later I stumbled upon an online support charity here in the UK called Daddy’s With Angels. Don’t let the name fool you, they support everyone in the family and never turn anyone away.
The best thing I found as an angel dad was that they offered a men’s only group.
The relief I felt joining and realising that there were other men I could talk to, away from any judgment was amazing. The groups run on a peer support network where everyone supports one another, I could log into Facebook and any time of the day find support, speak to other men who have suffered what I have suffered and help process my emotions. About a year after joined I volunteered my skills to the charity as a graphic designer, which was an amazing outlet and write the odd blog on my website in memory of my son.
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Being a part of that community, where men are supported by one another built me and helped me function again.
My anxiety attacks disappeared completely, and I felt a little bit like me again. Over five years on I still have bad days and take advantage of the group. I now am a trustee for Daddy’s With Angels, and it’s great to see other groups popping up supporting Dads and making them a part of this loss journey.
Photo by Laura Fuhrman on Unsplash
About the Author: My name is Warren Morris, I am an Angel dad to Oliver and a Trustee at Daddy’s With Angels and I write on my experiences on my personal blog page www.Oliversdaddy.co.uk. I truly believe men need more support. There is still a long way to go in society to make men realise that it’s OK to not be OK and you are not weak for seeking help and speaking out.