A few years ago, Risen Motherhood invited me to write an article to help mothers understand miscarriage from the perspective of a father. I received many notes of thanks from wives who had searched desperately for something to help their grieving husbands. Many men contacted me to communicate how the article helped them. A constant theme in these notes and phone calls was the absence of a male friend with whom to share their sorrow.
Men feel reluctant to share with other men for a variety of reasons. They fear being Daddy Downer in their peer group, inserting their sorrow into otherwise jovial hangouts. They worry that their friends won’t or can’t understand. They dread trite responses that minimize the pain while providing no relief. They want more than anything to avoid the shame of awkward silence.
I think most men want to comfort their bereaved friends, but they simply don’t know what to do. How should men help men grieve miscarriage? Every miscarriage is unique, as is every grieving man. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to providing care. Loving well requires prayer, thought, and patience—but Jesus offers help. Here are a few pointers:
1. Remember the Gospel.
The starting point of loving our neighbor is never our neighbor or ourselves—it is always Jesus. Jesus, the Son who came to serve and not to be served, demonstrated what it meant to love our neighbor. The night of his arrest, Jesus “got up from supper, laid aside his outer clothing, took a towel, and tied it around himself. Next, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around him” (John 13:4-5 CSB). Dressing himself like slave to wash his disciples’ feet illustrated the events that would take place in less than twenty-four hours. Assuming the form of a servant, “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8 CSB).
It was by sacrificing himself, dying in their place for their sins, that Jesus loved his people to the end (John 13:1 CSB). He rose from the dead to demonstrate that he had conquered sin, death, and the power of the devil for us. And now, exalted at the right hand of God, he has filled his people with his Holy Spirit, even as he intercedes for us constantly. This is good news! All this is given to us through faith in Christ, our Lord. This means that Jesus is with us, for us, and working through us as we kneel to serve a suffering friend.
2. Reenact the Gospel.
After washing his disciples’ feet, Jesus said (John 13:12-16 CSB):
Do you know what I have done for you? You call me Teacher and Lord — and you are speaking rightly, since that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you. Truly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. (John 13:12-16 CSB)
Jesus’ death not only saves us, it instructs us. We are called to follow his example in our love for one another. “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another” (John 13:34 CSB). How did he love us? He saw and understood our need, voluntarily humbled himself by taking on human nature to dwell amongst us, and served us by looking “not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4 CSB).