Miscarriage Affects Men Too

Eric Schumacher | June 24th 2022

Every human pregnancy involves a mother and a father. A man and a woman contribute to conception. In most cases, a mother wants the father to take an active interest in the pregnancy and preparation for the baby's birth. Likewise, she often wants him to be a reassuring presence during labor and delivery—and an active partner in parenting. Naturally, she will want him to share the grief that miscarriage brings. Nevertheless, the father's experience with miscarriage often goes unaddressed in the contemporary church.

Grief isn't Exclusive to the Mother

Christian books, sermons, and pregnancy and parenting resources frequently recognize the value of a healthy mother-father relationship in a child's life from conception into adulthood. Many books offer wisdom for expectant fathers—and for being a dad to infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. Should a child die, resources exist to aid a grieving dad—except, it seems, when the child dies in the womb. There are many excellent books for women experiencing miscarriage—Held by Abbey Wedgeworth being one example—and some for both mother and father. But when a man grieving the miscarriage of his child goes looking for something that speaks directly to him, help is hard to find.

We rarely hear about how miscarriage affects men because we speak of miscarriage as an almost exclusively women's topic. Miscarriage is a woman's topic. Women, after all, are the ones who become pregnant, carry babies in their wombs, and, sadly, miscarry. Physically, a woman experiences a miscarriage like no man ever could. Nevertheless, miscarriage is not a female experience exclusively; we should not grieve it as one.

Reluctant to Share

Christian men themselves rarely share their experiences with miscarriage. Multiple reasons may account for this reluctance. Chief among these may be the promotion and embrace of extrabiblical, cultural stereotypes regarding manhood and womanhood. When child-raising and nurture are thought of as primarily feminine activities, pregnancy and pregnancy loss are separated from manhood. When tenderness and emotional expression are seen as principally feminine virtues, mourning loss becomes distinctly unmasculine. What happens when you combine such ideas of womanhood with a view of manhood that is idealized in terms of strength and unflinching courage over and against gentleness, sorrow, and open expression of weakness and fear? The outcome is not only a severing of manhood and pregnancy, but it also functionally discourages (if not prohibits) men from actively and openly mourning miscarriage. 

When manhood is severed from pregnancy, child loss, and the weakness of sorrow, men will not speak openly about their experience with miscarriage. If they do not speak of it, we will not hear of it. We can’t minister the gospel to it if we don’t hear about it. If we believe that men and women are created for one another’s good—and that the presence of a healthy father is a good thing—this is a tragedy with manifold consequences.

Permission to Grieve

When a father is forced to grieve pregnancy loss in secret, it harms everyone—the family, the church, and the world. It hurts mothers by leaving them to suffer alone, separated from those they rejoiced with over the pregnancy. It harms children, robbing them of the chance to witness a father grieve. It damages the father, who ignores his pain or attempts to deal with it outside the communities God has given him. It weakens the church, holding it back from caring for almost half the parents who grieve pregnancy loss. It harms the world by removing a powerful apologetic for the sanctity of every human life.

Scripture speaks to this tragedy by offering us a better, more Christic manhood. Manhood informed by the person and work of Christ is not detached from pregnancy, childbirth, child-raising, and pregnancy loss. Christic manhood is intimately acquainted with and involved in these things because Jesus Christ was.

Men Like Jesus

Jesus acknowledged the hardships accompanying pregnancy and nursing, expressing concern for them (see Matthew 24:19; Mark 13:17; Luke 21:23; 23:29). Jesus loved small children and welcomed them to himself (Matthew 19:13-15). Jesus pays close attention to the well-being of little ones and responds with passion when they are harmed (Matthew 18:1-10). Every man is called to be conformed to Christ’s image. Christ cared about life in the womb, the cradle, and the grave. Thus, men may not only care about little children and respond passionately to their injury or loss, they must.

If the church expects men to be like Jesus, it will expect men to mourn miscarriage. This means pastors, counselors, and small-group leaders will acquaint themselves with how fathers grieve miscarriage and prepare to minister to them in advance. This means pursuing and listening to the stories of fathers who’ve suffered a miscarriage. It means stocking miscarriage resources for mothers and fathers for use in miscarriage response. It means equipping church members or care teams to respond to the mother and the father when the call comes.

If the church expects men to be like Jesus, it will expect men to mourn miscarriage.

Likewise, if the church encourages men to be like Jesus, it will encourage men to mourn miscarriages. Some men will deny or resist mourning a child lost in utero. If we would be concerned about a man not processing the death of his infant, we should be attentive to the man not processing a miscarriage. That child was his too. He had hopes and fears for this child. He should be sharing the grief with the mourning mother. Attentive pastoral care asks a miscarriage father gentle questions, explores his heart, affirms his sorrow, and encourages him to join the mother in her grief.

The greatest man in history stands in heaven “like a slaughtered lamb” (Revelation 5:6). His glorious, immortal, and imperishable resurrection body has visible wounds (John 20:27). Jesus embraced weakness, smallness, suffering, and grief. He will be worshiped for it for ever as “the Lamb who was slaughtered” (Revelation 5:9-12; 13:8). Hearing about how miscarriage impacts men requires embracing manhood’s good capacity for and responsibility to care about children in the womb and mourn their deaths. This begins with seeing and celebrating God in the flesh, the glory of God displayed in a weak, gentle, and weeping Savior.

In Ours, Eric Schumacher offers biblical comfort and practical support to men facing miscarriage. In this 31-day devotional, Eric walks through the Gospel of Luke, encouraging readers to draw alongside Jesus in their grief.