When Wayne Faulkner’s then-wife suffered two miscarriages, he felt it deeply. But back in the 1980s, he says, there was little grief support for men. So now, he’s committed to helping other men find their way through pregnancy loss.
Mr Faulkner says a father’s grief over miscarriage is a “different sort of grief” to a mother’s.
“It’s still just as strong and just as important to be recognised,” he tells ABC News. “Guys just don’t know how to talk about it and they don’t know who to talk about it to. You don’t go to work and talk about it – it’s sort of buried inside and it sort of festers away at you.”
But he says over the past decade, men have made great strides in wanting to share their feelings and emotions. And he is helping them to do so, by setting up a volunteer male-to-male peer support service in Western Australia through Sands Australia – a non-profit organisation that helps parents who have lost babies through miscarriage, stillbirth or newborn deaths.
It’s a place where fathers, grandfathers, brothers and workmates can learn how to understand and cope with pregnancy loss or neonatal death. The service is spreading to all the states, he says.
“It is a relief and you can see it – you can actually feel it in a room when a guy finally realises, ‘phew, that took a load off’,” he tells ABC News. “They can actually understand more about it’s not just about them, it’s about a lot of other people sharing, and they’re not alone. Talking about it is the key.”
“There are other groups that offer professional counselling and all those sorts of things (but) we don’t put ourselves up as being counsellors. We’re here to listen, we’re here as a peer group, we’re here to let you understand that we understand.”
Mr Faulkner, who also works full-time, says volunteering with Sands has helped him to deal with his grief. “It’s helping me further that process that I didn’t get the opportunity to go through all those years ago,” he says.
According to Sands, about one in four pregnancies – more than 100,000 – ends in miscarriage each year in Australia. And about 3000 babies are either stillborn or die just after birth. To contact Sands, phone the 24/7 support line on 1300 0 SANDS (1300 0 726 637).