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Lesson 26: Father Feelings



People treat a father differently than they do a mother after the loss of a child.  This is probably because they feel that the mother has had a greater connection with the child having carried and given birth to him/her.  But, in reality, the father is grieving the loss as much as the mother. His grief is also complicated by the fact that he has other “feelings” going on.


These “feelings” come in three categories. The first has to do with a man’s innate need to be protector of the family. The second is their desire to be strong and not show emotion. And, the third category has to do with a man’s need to fix things.  These other “feelings” compound their grief and can lead to guilt, anger and withdrawal or loneliness.



ROLE                         SHOULD DO THIS                                     FEELS THIS


Protector                 Prevent the Death Somehow               Guilt

Shield Family from Bad Things          Weak


Strong One              Have a Clear Mind                                   In a Fog

Be Prepared                                            Like a Failure


Not Show                             Be macho (Pretend)                                Deep Pain    Feelings                                                                                               (Broken)

Jealous (of     Wife’s Attention)


“Fix It” Person       Do Something to Make                           Anger*

It Better                                                    (that they                                                                                                                            can’t fix it)


*The anger is magnified by “stuffing” all the other feelings.






These “male” roles that a father tries to fill are impaired by the grief and actually make his grief more difficult to deal with.

ACTIVITY: In the spaces next to each picture, jot down some things you can do to help yourself be the man you want to be.


Instead of being…                                                He becomes…


The Warrior/Protector                          The Invisible Man (while wife gets all the attention, he’s left with a head full of questions)




The Rock                                                      A Broken Stone (in pain with so many decisions to make and the inability to make them)




The Stoic One                                             A Mask (with a flood of tears to cry)




The “Fix It” Man                                        An Explosion (with destruction he can’t fix and anger just waiting to be triggered)




Fathers need to grieve too.  Because of the roles the world places on them, they tend to delay their grief and allow themselves to “feel” things only when their wives are doing better.  Understanding these differences can be helpful to both the father and the mother as they navigate the grief journey.