By: Sabrina Ivy
Across the crowded hospital room, I caught a glimpse of my broken husband. He wasn’t just comforting our daughter, it was a rare moment that he allowed his grief to show. Whenever something broke, Emma would climb into daddy’s arms and say “Daddy, fix it.” Daddy couldn’t fix her broken heart this time. He couldn’t make it all better. Her little sister just feet away was cradled in my arms lifeless. Stillborn after almost 37 weeks of growing anticipation.
“Return to Zero“ writer/director Sean Hanish, whose son was stillborn in 2005, writes:
[blockquote]As a husband, a partner, a man you are a passenger on the pregnancy express. You can look out the window and watch the scenery go by, her belly grow, her skin glow and if you’re lucky, catch your baby’s elbow as it presses against her belly like the dorsal fin of some alien sea creature making it more real for you. But you’re not the engineer. When the crash comes, you are struggling with your own emotions, grief and loss, desolation and depression, and watching as your wife, your partner, your life jumps the tracks. Twisting metal tumbling out of control in slow motion. Prepare for impact.[/blockquote]
Chris was over 800 miles away that day when I called him to tell him the doctors couldn’t find Alivia’s heartbeat. How helpless he must have felt when that crash came, and our lives jumped the tracks. Immediately he was coming up with solutions, possibilities… hope. He drove all night to make it home with only a short rest. I kept watching him. He wasn’t freaking out. He wasn’t screaming like I wanted to. He just wrapped me in his arms and let me cry.
He was the calm in our storm.
We spent days in the hospital with our sweet Alivia Rose. Taking pictures, holding her, loving on her. Chris arranged the details with the funeral home and our pastor. I remember sitting at the table with him and the funeral home director, not being able to understand anything they were saying. My brain was fogged over, he took care of all the details. Chris sang her a beautiful song at her funeral. The next day was our 10-year wedding anniversary. We sat on the couch and watched Everybody Loves Raymond all day long on Netflix. He let me zone out and sleep half the day away. A couple of short days later he had to return to work 800 miles away.
He had to be the strong one, put on a brave face and go on like his heart wasn’t just ripped out of his chest.
Again, he was the calm in our storm.
Looking back over the past four years, it has been challenging for me to talk to him about my own grief…let alone ask him how his is. I’m not quite sure why exactly. Maybe because I know how much it hurts him to watch me cry and not be able to “fix” it. He never rushed me, but he did nudge me to get help when he saw I was spiraling into the abyss of grief. Without that nudge, I don’t know where I would be today, honestly.
Buz Overbeck wrote an article about the different ways men and women deal with their grief. This has helped me over the years to remember just how differently we all grieve. Positive-Parenting-Skills.net was able to sum his words up like this:
|Grieving mothers very often||Grieving fathers very often|
|need to talk, processing what happened through words||don’t want to talk, getting overwhelmed listening to so much raw emotion|
|cry a lot and seek out support groups||hide their pain and make it up on their own|
|ask the same questions again and again, hoping to find understanding (more in themselves than from others even)||don’t know what else to answer, wishing they could fix things|
|read books on grief and write to work through the pain||disappear in the shed not to be seen again|
|feel he should grieve her way||need the grace to be allowed to grieve in their own ways|
|seek understanding and hugs to feel close, not sex||look for closeness in sexual intimacy|
|“need 9 – 24 months (or more) to resolve their grief”||“([…] make peace) with their grief in 3-6 months”|
|have the impression their partners don’t grieve||“feel their spouse needs professional help after 3 to 6 months”|
My husband grieves quietly. I grieve loudly. He grieves to himself. I literally share my grief with the world. He grieves in different ways. But yes, he grieves. And yes, he is always the calm in our storm.
To my amazing husband who has fearlessly been navigating our family back to the rails after the crash, happy Father’s Day. You are an amazing husband and father. Thank you for being forever patient. Thank you for leading us to hope. Thank you for the gentle nudges and pulling me back from the abyss. Thank you for being the calm through our storm.
Sabrina has been married to her wonderful husband, Chris, for 13 years. She is a mommy to four beautiful children; two that walk with them and two that live in Heaven. They are a homeschooling families and have found great comfort in being able to mourn and grieve in their own ways together. The Ivy’s daughter was stillborn at almost 37 weeks on March 22, 2014. This has been a journey of faith, grief and hope for their family.