A Letter from Loss Dad to Loss Dad

The following is a letter I wrote to all fathers who have suffered a loss. It appears in a new book, From Father to Father: Letters from Loss Dad to Loss Dad, by Emily R. Long, which was just released on Monday. In honor of the book's release, I would like to share this letter with all of you, and encourage you to pick up the book to read the rest of the letters.

Dear Grieving Father,

I am so sorry for your loss, and for the pain and confusion you’re probably feeling.
A few days after I found out our baby Lucy had died in her mother’s womb, I spoke with a man who had suffered through multiple miscarriages. He told me something that I’d like to pass on to you: This sucks. It really sucks. And it hurts. And it’s okay that it hurts. No one else gets to tell you how to suffer. If you’re still hurting, even after the rest of the world says you should have recovered by now, it’s okay to reach out for help. If you’re starting to feel better, even though your wife is in a deep pit of grief, then be there for your wife. You might need to process your grief later, after she has started to recover.

At first, I mostly ignored my grief. When people asked how I was doing, I hid behind my wife’s grief. “It’s a lot harder for her, because she had bonded more with the baby.” And that’s probably true. But by saying that, I was taking all the attention away from myself. When people took my words at face value, and focused on how my wife was doing, I felt hurt and neglected.

Less than half a year after losing Lucy, we lost another baby, Elliot. I was angry. I had prayed so hard that God would let this baby live, and He didn’t. I asked God, “Why did you put us through this again? Why didn’t you let him live? You could have done something. Why didn’t you?” I heard all kinds of answers from people, but none of them really satisfied me. And some answers, like, “God needed another angel,” just made me mad. First of all, God doesn’t need anything. Secondly, rather than being comforting, this answer makes it sound like God deliberately acted and killed our baby so he could be in heaven.

The only answer that even came close was, “God only allows evil things to happen so that he can bring about a greater good.” This one seemed the most honest. God didn’t cause the evil, but he did allow it to happen. And a baby’s death was not some good thing, it was in itself an evil. But God only allowed it so that he could bring about good. Well, that led to the question of what exactly this greater good was. I needed God to explain this plan to me, and then I would decide whether it was worth my child dying.

Then one day, something changed. I don’t know if God spoke to me, or if I just had a realization myself. (I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive.) But I suddenly had the thought, “I am not going to understand what God’s plan is in all of this. I don’t need to worry about that. I will trust that he has a plan, and hopefully one day it will make sense to me. It might not be until I am in heaven, reunited with Lucy and Elliot.”
So if there’s any advice that I can possibly offer you, it’s that there aren’t any perfect answers to the questions running through your mind. Or at least not any answers that will satisfy you right now. And that sucks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ask the questions. Keep talking to your wife, and to your family and friends. Keep talking to God. Ask Him for understanding, and ask Him for peace. I will be praying for you, too.
My deepest condolences,
Matt Marks
Special thanks to Emily Long for giving me permission to reprint my letter here.
Dad Pick - From Father to Father: Letters from Loss Dad to Loss Dad

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Earlier this year, my wife read a book called You Are Not Alone: Love Letters from Loss Mom to Loss Mom, by Emily Long. It was a collection of letters from mothers who had lost children, written to give comfort and companionship to all mothers of loss. It sounded like a great concept.

A while later, I came to the realization that there were hardly any books out there for fathers who have lost children. Then, two things happened. At the encouragement of my wife and my pastor, I started writing a book (which is still in progress). And Jess told me that Emily Long was putting together a book collecting letters from loss dads, and was looking for submissions.

I knew this book needed to be published. This was exactly the kind of thing I had been looking for. I submitted a letter to the author, and I am deeply honored that she included it in the book.

From Father to Father: Letters from Loss Dad to Loss Dad was released on Amazon this past Monday. I immediately ordered it, and finished reading it today. The book is very powerful. Each of the fathers in the book have been through a similar experience, but they all talk about it in a different way. Some of them write about how their faith was impacted, and some are not really religious. Some fathers recount the stories of their children, others focus in on the experience of grief, and dispel some myths about what life will be like afterwards. All of the fathers seem to recognize that while they can give some advice, no father can tell another father how to grieve.

Reading this book did a lot for me. It helped me understand my own emotions more. It made me grateful for my friends and family, and especially my wife, who have helped me adjust to life after loss. It inspired me to continue writing about my experiences, in my book and on this blog. And it made me glad that there are readers of this blog who have felt inspired to write to me and talk about their losses.

I would recommend this book to any father who has lost a child - whether recently or a long time ago. If you know a couple who has lost a child (or children), consider giving this book to the father as a gift. He may not know that there are resources like this out there, or he may not think it is appropriate for him to reach out for help.

You can order the book on Amazon, here.

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If, by chance, you found this blog from reading From Father to Father, you can find more of my articles about miscarriage by clicking on Miscarriage up in the navigation bar.

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