Fathers of Loss Support Series: Tim’s story
Fathers of Loss Support Series:
Meet Tim, dad of Phoebe. Tim is the father of four children. His second child Phoebe, was stillborn 39 weeks
My wife was 31 years old, fit and healthy and had no issues during pregnancy. We were blissfully unaware of what could happen. But at 39 weeks, Phoebe was stillborn.
There is no answer as to why Phoebe passed away.
When it happened, I felt like my world had collapsed, and the future that was so positive had disappeared. I thought I would never be happy or have a positive outlook again.
In the early stages of loss and grief, find a trusted friend or family member to be your gatekeeper. Let them make the painful calls and be your protectors until you are strong enough to protect yourself. We found that the friends who allowed us to fall apart were the friends who were essential for our recovery.
But we also had some terrible advice where people said things like: “Everything happens for a reason, you can have more kids or you already have one child, focus on her.” These comments were cutting and awful.
The other thing was people said they didn’t want to bring Phoebe up as they didn’t like to remind us of what happened. You’re not going to remind us that we lost a child. It is at the forefront of our thinking, always.
We found that one of the hardest things was when some friends became strangers. They weren’t necessarily callous, but it’s just a challenging situation, and they ran from it.
When you’re in that pit of despair, you can’t be fighting for friendships, and you have to grab the people who lean in.
If you’re a friend supporting someone through this loss, ‘Lean in.’ Don’t be afraid to be there.
Though my wife and I grieved together on the whole, the stages we were in often differed.
Grief comes in waves, and sometimes, one of us would be in good spirit on the crest of those waves. The other would be in the trough. This could be challenging as when you’re feeling good you don’t want to be pulled back into the trough.
Advice for other dads
To other dads going through the same thing, I recommend that you be selfish. Allow yourself the time to grieve. Of course, you want to help your family, but allow others to shoulder some of that responsibility, they will if given a chance, and you will recover more fully if you allow yourself to sink.
We honour and celebrate Phoebe’s birthday every year. Rather than a day of mourning, it has become a day we, including the kids, look forward to. We call it family day.
I feel blessed for the three healthy children that I have and the journey that Phoebe has taken me on. It has been a long journey to this point. Though still in the depths of despair, my wife and I made the decision always to honour Phoebe in our future.
Red Nose 24/7 Bereavement Support Line 1300 308 307.
Last reviewed: 12/9/21