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Monday, May 27, 2024

Examining fathers’ grief after miscarriage

William & Mary School of Education doctoral counseling students conducted a study on the often overlooked grief experienced by fathers after a miscarriage. (WYDaily/Courtesy W&M School of Education)
William & Mary School of Education doctoral counseling students conducted a study on the often overlooked grief experienced by fathers after a miscarriage. (WYDaily/Courtesy W&M School of Education)

Fathers’ grief after a miscarriage is often overlooked. A trio of doctoral counseling students in the William & Mary School of Education set out to rectify that, and published the results of their interviews with fathers in a 2018 issue of The Family Journal.

The team interviewed 11 married fathers who had experienced a miscarriage.

“I have found that much of the writing within counseling research and also within grief and loss literature focuses on women and mothers. As such, I wanted to fill in this gap,” said Nathaniel Wagner Ph.D. ’18, now an assistant professor of counseling at Indiana State University. “I have not personally experienced miscarriage, but many of my friends and family have. I see this as an area of disenfranchised grief for both of the parents and I want to bring a voice to this loss.”

Wagner and his coauthors, Victor Tuazon Ph.D. ’18 and Colin Vaughn ’13, M.Ed. ’15, Ph.D. ’19, identified several common themes in the fathers’ interviews. They concluded that several factors impacted fathers’ grief, including the meaning and expectations fathers had for fatherhood, whether they had observed movements such as heartbeats and whether the miscarriage occurred at home or in a more controlled medical setting.

Finally, the article identifies, through the fathers’ observations, ways in which people around them were helpful. The fathers appreciated written notes or spoken words from other people who had been through miscarriage, as well as friends, family and employers who offered logistical support such as extensions on projects, flexible scheduling and assistance with meals and family needs. At the same time, many fathers also said they felt that they needed to be strong to support their wives and that their grief was often overlooked by friends and family who were concerned for the mothers’ grief and loss.

The authors suggested that more research is needed with a wider range of families to understand how fathers experience miscarriage and what men need in order to grieve these losses. Additionally, they hoped that this preliminary research would be useful to counselors who are working with families that have experienced miscarriage by deepening the understanding of fathers’ loss.

Wagner said he plans to include work in his career that explores “the experience of loss with other non-normative families, providing trainings and psychoeducation to families, and developing and examining treatment interventions for fathers and parents experiencing this loss.”

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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