CLIMB

Marissa


The day

September 9th, 1996 was the worst day of my life. On that day, at 9:00 a.m., my wife Sheri and I found out that one of the twins whom Sheri was carrying had died. Over the course of the pregnancy, we had identified and named each twin, so we knew that it was Marissa who was gone. Rachel was still alive and doing well.

The twins were monoamniotic, which means that they were literally within the same amniotic sac and could touch each other. We did not know why Marissa had died, but we suspected a cord accident. Since we were at 34 weeks, we deemed it safe to deliver Rachel. We scheduled an emergency C-section and at 12:12 p.m. Rachel entered the world. Marissa was delivered stillborn at 12:13 p.m.

I wish it could have been a happier day for Sheri and myself and for Rachel. After all, we had just delivered our daughter. But Marissa’s death had made it a black day for all of us. Try as I might, I could only barely feel the joy of Rachel’s birth, so consumed was I by Marissa’s death…

Prior to the discovery

Our first child, Brian, was born November 22, 1994. I wanted three children and Sheri only two. We decided to have a second child and put off the decision for a third until later. We wanted the children to be close in age, so we tried to get pregnant right after the start of the new year in 1996. As with Brian, we got lucky and conceived during our first month. Unlike with Brian, Sheri’s pregnancy with the second child was very difficult – she was extremely nauseous and felt weak and tired. I figured this meant we were going to have a girl. The day after Mother’s Day, we had our first sonogram at the OB’s. Within a few seconds, the sonogram operator said, “Guess what, Sheri? There’s two!”. Well, the mystery of the rough pregnancy was solved.

I was ecstatic over the news. We had identical girls growing within Sheri. We called virtually everyone we knew to let them know. We then saw the OB. The sonogram operator suspected the twins were monoamniotic, and our OB told us that we probably had monoamniotic twins. Only 1 in 25,000 pregnancies result in this type of twinning, so I felt rather special. The OB said that monoamniotic twins were at risk for accidents and that we should pray that later sonograms showed an amnion. I didn’t quite grasp the relevance of his observation. Both twins were doing well and I had always led a sort of “charmed” existence with no real disasters ever befalling me. I figured that we would sail through the pregnancy and be blessed with beautiful twin girls. The fact that they were monoamniotic just made them even more special.

At the 27th week, we started seeing a high-risk pregnancy specialist. Every Monday we would go in and Sheri would have a non-stress test (NST), to measure the twins’ heart rates over time, and a biophysical Profile (BPP), to gain a overall picture of how well the twins were doing. The BPP is essential a detailed sonogram that measures the overall size of the fetuses, the amount of movement, whether there is breathing or not, etc. The first BPP showed that one twin was head down and virtually in position for birth, with her head wedged in near the cervix. The other twin was “floating” above her with her head near the first twin’s chest and her legs entangled with the first twin’s legs. We had already decided on names and that the first twin delivered would be Rachel, so the “in position” twin became Rachel Ilana and the “floater” became Marissa Leigh.

The greatest risk with monoamniotic twins is that the cords will become entangled. Cord accidents are always a possibility within any twin pregnancy, but it especially risky within a monoamniotic pregnancy because the cords are literally within the same sac and can easily braid together. Although there is very little literature on monoamniotic pregnancies, the general consensus is that the risk of cord accidents is 50% or above until the 30th week. At that point, the fetuses are presumed to be less able to twist around each other and the risk drops to that of a normal twin pregnancy.

After we passed the 30th week, I felt a real sense of relief. It was obvious that my “charmed” existence was holding true and that our girls would make it to term. After all, we had made it through the high risk period. Each week, the BPP and NST showed the twins were doing great. Both were growing fine, both were showing developmental breathing patterns, etc. Both our OB and our high-risk specialist told us how well this pregnancy was going and that we were very fortunate.

We went in on Monday, September 9th with the expectation that we’d get another “clean bill of health” on the twins. We started with the BPP (we usually had the NST first, but the nurse who ran the NST was still doing rounds with the high-risk doctor). Our sonogram operator scanned Rachel first and she got perfect scores. She then scanned Marissa. Her first series of measurements were on the length of bones to ensure proper growth. In order to ensure she was scanning Marissa’s legs, she had to start at her head and trace her body to the legs. Each of the leg measurements was coming up too small, so she repeated the measurements several times. Since we had done this so many times, I had become adept at reading the sonogram screen. Each time she traced Marissa’s body, I had trouble locating her heart. After the fourth or fifth time, I asked her why I wasn’t seeing the heart. She did a quick chest scan and then, obviously distressed, excused herself. My world sank.

I knew that something was very wrong, and f felt certain that Marissa was gone. I held Sheri’s hand and she asked me what was wrong. I told her that I thought Marissa was gone and that we both needed to be strong. We started to cry and we held each other. In minutes, the doctor and the other nurse came in. The doctor did a fast scan and confirmed our fears: Marissa had died, probably a few days earlier.

I was devastated. My world was crashing around me. Sheri was crying, as were the sonogram operator and the nurse. But I suddenly snapped out of grief mode and into “Daddy” mode. I had to make sure Sheri and Rachel made it through the rest of this ordeal. I became very serious and asked the doctor for his recommendation. He recommended that we C-section Rachel out to ensure that whatever had killed Marissa didn’t kill Rachel, as well. As he went to call our regular OB, we went to the NST room and hooked Sheri to the monitor so that she could hear Rachel’s heartbeat and be sure she was OK.

Sheri was near hysterical, but I felt I had to be her “rock”. So I tried to talk her through her fear and crying. I tried to help her Lamaze breathe to calm her down. I had to be strong for her and for Rachel. When she had calmed down somewhat, I left her for a few moments to call our parents and our nanny (who was watching Brian) to let them know we were going to the hospital and to let them know what had happened. Actually telling someone else about Marissa’s death suddenly made it very real, and I started crying and shaking all over again. But I calmed myself down, made a few more calls to take care of urgent business concerns, and got Sheri ready to go over to the hospital.

I drove us (Sheri, myself, and the nurse from the high-risk doctor’s office) over to the hospital and got us checked into a Labor and Delivery Room (LDR). Our OB had been contacted and one of his partners was on call and would perform the C-section. We met with the LDR nurse and the OB and determined that Sheri was 4 cm. dilated and that we could try to go vaginally if we wanted. We decided to go with the C-section as it presented the least risk. Sheri was given an epidural and I spoke soothingly to her throughout the whole procedure. The LDR seemed like a whirlwind of activity and I had to sign forms, assess recommendations, help keep Sheri calm, etc. While waiting for the operating room to become available, I called other friends and family to let them know what had happened. Then, suddenly, the LDR nurse was telling me to put on my scrubs while they wheeled Sheri away. When I was called into the operating room, they had already made the first incisions into Sheri’s abdomen. I held Sheri’s hand and told her what was going on. Sheri and I still wanted to document this experience, so I occasionally stood up to take pictures. Within minutes, the OB announced that he was ready to deliver Rachel. At 12:12 p.m., she entered the world and started crying. It was the most beautiful sound in the world – she was OK, she was alive. I took more pictures and cried some more. And then the OB took Marissa from Sheri’s body. She was limp and silent and they placed her in a bassinet. I took several pictures of her and touched her and told her that I loved her. I then bounced between Sheri, Rachel, and Marissa as the OB stitched Sheri’s incision and the nurses tended to Rachel.

Rachel then had to go to the NICU for monitoring. Sheri and I decided I should go with Rachel, so I followed the nurses to the NICU. They hooked Rachel up to various monitors and gave her oxygen. But she was doing very well (she ended up only spending about 4 hours in the NICU), so I asked the NICU staff to take special care of her and went back to Sheri, who had been moved back to the LDR.

In the LDR, the nurses told us about the grieving process, about how the hospital encouraged us to visit with the stillborn twin, and how we had to decide about autopsy and the disposition of the body. They gave us a wreath of intertwined twigs with a white ribbon and told me to put it on our door in the post-partum room; this would let the members of the maternity staff know that we had experienced a loss and that they should treat us with special sensitivity. Again, as I was in “Daddy” mode, I took it all in so that I could discuss it with Sheri when she was prepared to talk about it. About an hour later, they moved us to our post-partum room.

As they moved us to the post-partum room, I noticed that it was pouring outside, literally raining down in buckets. No rain or storms had been forecast for the day (I’m a Weather Channel fan and had checked the forecast). It was so very strange. It was almost as if God was weeping for our loss…

After delivery and through the funeral

Sheri and I had many decisions to make after we had been settled into our post-partum room. Did we want an autopsy? Should we have a funeral for Marissa? Did we want to view Marissa’s body? Should we take First-Foto’s of Marissa at all? If so, should they be with Rachel or alone? When should Brian come and visit? Should I room in or go home to be with Brian?

Emotionally, we were numb. We wanted so much to be happy for Rachel’s safe arrival, but we were mostly sad for Marissa’s loss. I was in “do” mode, taking care of hospital administrivia, answering the phone, planning out the next few hours. In a strange way, it was almost merciful for me to have Rachel in the NICU for a few hours, since it gave me time to sort things out without the distractions of a newborn. But we barely seemed to have time for each other, not that either of us had anything left to give. I wanted to comfort Sheri more, but ended up handling everything but her emotional needs.

We decided very quickly to not have an autopsy, since it was almost guaranteed that it would not reveal any new information for us. We were also in complete agreement that we wanted a funeral for Marissa and that we wanted to spend some time with her. The nurse brought her to us during the afternoon, We had requested that she be dressed in her First-Foto outfit, so she came to us swaddled in pink with little teddy bears. Hospital rules precluded them from washing her body, so she still had much of the vernix on her. We held her and cried and said goodbyes and words of love to her. She was cold and silent; at times, bodily fluids would leak from her nose or mouth. I’ll never forget how limp she was. Even a sleeping baby has some muscle tone and resists falling: Marissa had none. She was like five pounds of cold meat in my hands. It was a disturbing sensation – babies ought not to die and should never feel like that. However, despite the awkwardness and the morbidness of holding and caressing our dead twin, I felt it was necessary and in a small way cleansing. She was real; she had been here; she was dead – I had seen it with my own eyes and felt it with my own hands.

The nurse told us that the hospital took First-Foto’s of stillborns for records and as a courtesy to parents. We were not obligated to view, take, or even pay for them, but they were there if we wanted them. We decided to have each twin photographed separately, so they took Marissa away when we were finished saying goodbye to have her pictures taken.

They brought Rachel to us around 6:00 p.m. that evening. We were anxious to see her and didn’t understand the delays in bringing her from the NICU. Was everything all right? Yes, they assured us, these were just normal hospital delays. When she did arrive, we realized that nothing new had developed. She was so small and fragile. She had very little body fat and her skin fit loosely on her arms and legs. But she was beautiful and alive and here.

Our rabbi came to our hospital room that night (we had called the temple to inform them of our new arrival and loss). He was incredibly comforting and helped us to understand what our options were and how the mechanics of setting up a funeral were done. In a strict interpretation of Judaism, a stillborn is not recognized as a “real” person, so no funeral is performed; however, as reform Jews, we recognize that a stillbirth is a special loss to the parents and that marking such a loss with ritual is a kindness. Our rabbi said he would perform the funeral and that we could wait until Sheri and Rachel were out of the hospital and able to attend. He also helped us to understand the many arrangements that had to be made with funeral homes, cemeteries, etc.

The next two days became a blur of activity. I had to coordinate the funeral home, burial arrangements, cemetery plots and markers, and the funeral itself. I was relieved to see the business-like way the funeral home and cemetery made their arrangements; it was only when I paused to think of why I was doing this that it got sorrowful. Perhaps the most difficult part was delivering to the funeral home the things we wanted buried with Marissa: the dress and other clothes she was to have gone home in; a blanket knitted by my mother with Marissa’s name on it; a teddy bear that Sheri’s mother had meant to present to Marissa; and a picture of Sheri, Brian, Rachel, and myself with a note written from us on the back.

In addition many family members were starting to arrive for the funeral. Although I had much to do and appreciated the help that they provided, it was sometimes difficult to deal with them and their needs – they meant well, of course, but it was difficult for me to see past my own needs and any small request on their part seemed overly burdensome.

We had much help with Brian during those few days from Brian’s nanny and from our best friends in the neighborhood. Both live just a few doors down from us and were able to make sure that his needs were met each day. I tried to get away as much as possible to be with him and reassure him but there was just so much to do. I spent the night before Sheri came home at home with Brian, which allowed me to catch up on several of the things needing attention at home and at work and to spend some quality time with Brian.

Whatever other time I had, I spent at the hospital, which was really my home base. I tried to “be there” for Sheri, but there were so many things going on and arrangements to be made that I feel that I might have neglected her needs during that time. She told me later on that she was so awash in her own emotions and in caring for Rachel that she didn’t feel that I was neglecting her, but I’ll always wonder if I should have tried to juggle things differently to be more available for her.

While at the hospital, I tried to get to know Rachel. It seems that mothers have an instant attachment to their babies, while fathers have to grow into it. That’s not to say I had no feelings at all for her; I felt the joy of knowing I had a new child and the feelings of love that go with that. But I didn’t know her personality the way Sheri did (from the inside out, so to speak) and still needed to bond with her. I knew in time I would love her in a way totally different from the way I was feeling now and different from how I loved Sheri or Brian. But for now, I needed to just hold her and change her and try to learn her ways. But it was difficult, since so many conflicting emotions surrounded her birth. She was so small and frail and skinny…Would she survive? Did she know her twin sister was dead? Could I see her as an individual and not part of a “broken set”? Could I celebrate her life without overshadowing it with Marissa’s death?

We left the hospital on Thursday morning. Although Rachel had lost weight and was down to 4 lbs. 10 oz., the doctors and nurses felt that she and Sheri were doing fine and could go home. I felt heartsick for Sheri because it was very difficult for her to go home with “only one” and I was scared about what the next few days and weeks would hold. Yet I was happy that Rachel was doing so well as to be able to go home on a normal timetable as other babies did. When we got home, we told all of our relatives that they needed to stay away from us for several hours so that we could settle in and introduce Rachel to the house. However, the phone never stopped ringing, floral deliveries kept coming to the door, and we never really got the quiet time together that we had hoped for. The whirlwind of activity that had started on Tuesday just never wound down…

We had the funeral on Friday morning. All of the relatives that had flown in from out of town gathered at our home and we ran a “car caravan” to the cemetery. There, we were met by friends and coworkers. I felt oddly at ease, greeting family members and friends. Unbeknownst to me, Sheri was terribly upset, but I was oblivious and, again, didn’t tend to her needs. When the rabbi arrived, we drove down to the gravesite and started the funeral.

It was only then that the enormity of the situation hit me. I was burying my daughter, something that I had never even imagined could have happened to me. It seemed so strange for Sheri and me to be the focus of such an event. I had gone to other funerals to honor those who had passed and to comfort the survivors; I never thought people would be doing this for me. Suddenly, there was the casket and flowers before me, my wife and new daughter on one side being comforted by her parents, my son and my parents on the other. Brian had no conception of what was going on and I and my parents had to tend to him, but he was great and pretty much just sat in his seat. I barely remember any of the ceremony. My mind was going in a million different directions and I kept trying to focus on Marissa and the funeral but it was so hard. As they lowered her casket into the ground, the reality of her death really came home to me and I started sobbing. My daughter, our daughter, Rachel’s twin, Brian’s sister, our being parents of twins, our charmed existence, they were all gone…

We left the cemetery and drove home. Our neighbors had come into our house and prepared a large buffet for us and our friends and relatives. Throughout the entire experience of Rachel and Marissa’s birth and Marissa’s funeral, we were buoyed up by the incredible support and comfort provided by our neighbors, friends, family, co-workers, temple, and medical staff. We were amazed by the many people whose lives we had touched and were now coming to our aid. Growing up, I had always been close to God, but had soured on religion in college and had abandoned faith. While this experience didn’t bring me any closer to a God that could give us twins and then take one of them away, it brought me incredibly closer to my temple and community. God, fate, whatever, may be cruel, but people are basically good and the distance they will go to help one another is truly inspiring.

After the funeral

We started the de-twinning process the weekend after the funeral. We didn’t feel that we had to erase Marissa from our lives or pretend that she didn’t exist; it was just that we had prepared the house for two newborns and now only needed the equipment for one. The most difficult aspect for me was the disassembly of the second crib. We had searched all over to find a second crib to match the one we had purchased for Brian when he was a newborn. Unable to find it, we ended up special ordering it from the manufacturer. We set it up in our bedroom so that the twins could be together and Sheri could reach them easily for breast feeding, etc. Later on, we’d move the crib into the nursery with the first one and they each would have their own matching cribs. Now, the crib was too large a space for just one, and we decided to return the crib and just use a bassinet next to the bed. I decided I wanted to do this task alone so that I could be alone with my thoughts. It was as if by taking the crib apart by myself, I would have a chance to talk to Marissa all by myself, without anyone else distracting me. It was extremely emotional but very cleansing. When it was done, I felt that I had crossed some kind of threshold. Strangely, after that, my level of sadness seemed to diminish and the other tasks of de-twinning seemed less hard.

We worked together to separate all of the pairs of items and decide which ones to return, which ones to donate to our Twins Club, and which ones to keep. We created memory boxes for both girls, but put most of the twin-related items (such as “It’s Twins!” T-shirts, etc.) in Marissa’s box. We filled out baby books for each girl. We felt that we should not slight Marissa by ignoring the items for her that we processed for Rachel. For me, at least, this helped me to “bond” with my lost daughter and give her some life to me. Soon, most of the twin aspects of our house were gone. Again, we don’t deny the twinness of Rachel or Marissa, nor do we deny what happened. It just seemed to make sense not to enshrine the things that made our house a twin house and to only keep the things that made sense for a single newborn.

Strangely, during this time, I felt that I grew closer to Marissa, even though I knew her to be dead. I’ve never believed in an afterlife or spirits, but it was comforting to me to imagine that Marissa was aware of our actions and was watching over Rachel. I found myself having small “conversations” with her, asking her to help relieve Rachel’s pain in separating from her sister or telling her how sorry I was that she didn’t survive. I don’t mean this to imply that I spoke actually to her or that I heard voices; it was more just a mental exercise, pretending that maybe she could hear me. But it was comforting nonetheless.

In the months that followed, I found that I grieved very little. I sometimes wondered if I was some kind of monster for not grieving more. Sheri and others told me that we each grieve in our own way and that we each are at different “levels” at different times; just because Sheri seemed to be feeling one way didn’t mean that I had to be feeling the same. But, to this day, it still concerns me that I never seem to have had a “clothes-ripping” total breakdown; I don’t know why but it seems that such a total grief-stricken experience is necessary.

Two weeks after Rachel and Marissa were delivered, I was back working. I run my own company and couldn’t let it get away from me. Even during the few days before the funeral, I had to handle a few customer situations. I think this return to work and the daily routine helped me to get my feet back on the ground; but, at the same time, I think it inhibited my grief work and placed it on a back burner. In addition, having the responsibilities of raising an almost two-year-old and a newborn certainly inhibited serious introspection and grief work; there just wasn’t the time.

However, when my thoughts turned to Marissa, I found that I would visit the cemetery and gaze at her plot and (later) marker. I would continue to have small conversations with her and would feel better. Spending time with her at the cemetery tended to make me feel more connected to her, as if I was still giving my little girl the attention she deserves.

Four months later

Now it is four months later and much has changed.

Rachel is colicky (pretty much since the end of the first month) and demands much attention. We’ve started feeding her baby foods, which is helping a lot, but it is still often difficult. But she is starting to respond to us, giving us great smiles and cooing. For me as a father, this is the time that I really begin to see her as a person and have really started to enjoy being with her. Her weight, after a slow start, is now up to close to 11 lbs. and she is “on the growth curves”. She had had several childhood diseases (pink eye, ear infections, etc.) but is completely healthy now. Her prematurity no longer seems to be a factor and she is as “normal” a baby as you would expect from a singleton birth.

We’ve done a lot of reading about twin loss. The Center for Loss In Multiple Birth (CLIMB) has been of tremendous support. I’ve gained a real understanding for the process of grieving and believe I’m somewhat prepared for the trials and tribulations of raising a twinless twin. We’ve starting attending a local support group called Share, which specializes in loss of a child around birth. Speaking with other bereaved parents has helped and is of great comfort.

Sheri is back to work and I am totally immersed in the day-to-day operation of my company. The kids are healthy and happy. We seem to have the perfect family of four – mommy, daddy, a boy, and a girl. But few who see us know that our perfect family was meant to have five… The grief, for me, comes only every now and then, especially during special times (holidays and the like) and when we see another couple with twins. I still make trips to the cemetery on occasion, and they still cheer me up when I am down, but I don’t feel as compelled to go as much as I used to.

I miss my daughter and grieve for the twinness that she and Rachel would have shared. But the reality is that she is gone. For now, the pain seems to have eased and life has assumed a new form of normalcy and routine. But every now and then, as I hold Rachel, I try to imagine another just like her in my arms and wonder about what could have been…

Grieving and Daddies

As a father, grieving for a stillborn twin has been a strange experience. So much of the grief process and community response seems geared to the mother.

Most support groups are only for the mothers; where couples are encouraged, most report that very few fathers attend. I’ve been unable to find a support group only for fathers. I’ve been lucky in the fact that I’ve found a support group that does have participating fathers, but, so far, it has been difficult to get my needs met since the discussion still seems more focused on the mothers’ needs.

Most articles treat only the mother’s grief and depression and relegate the father to a support role. Other articles simply say that fathers grieve, too. The few articles that have dealt with fathers’ grief have been “dead on” in describing the feelings that I am experiencing, but they are few and far between.

Most of the community doesn’t seem to understand how to deal with a grieving father. Most people ask how my wife is doing. Since I did not carry the babies, and since I do not seem to be outwardly grieving, most assume that I must be fine and that I am only concerned with ensuring that my wife is dealing with it well. Part of it, I’m sure, is due to society’s image of the man as the strong support in the family, taking care of the physical and economic needs of the family and letting the woman handle the emotional and child rearing aspects. Part of it is also that most people are uncomfortable around grief in general; dealing with a man’s emotions is even more difficult. Even in today’s “sensitive” culture, a truly sensitive man is still considered somewhat wimpy and less of a man. The sensitive man should still be tough and gritty and only sensitive when dealing with a woman – a Clint Eastwood who can understand the needs of a woman and can open up when she wants to talk. Thus, it is hard for a man to ask another man how he is feeling emotionally, especially where grieving is concerned. Couple this with the fact that most women don’t ask about a man’s emotions because discussing such things can breed sexual undercurrents, and you get a very lonely environment for a grieving father.

Much of my grieving has come from the fact that I’ve lost the ability to “always make things right” in my family. I used to be able to promise that everything would be OK– and I could always ensure that it really would be OK. But Marissa’s death is something that I cannot fix. And when I tell Sheri that nothing bad will happen in a difficult situation, she no longer believes me. That loss of trust and power is a terrible blow to a father.

Another difficult aspect of the grieving process is that I seem to be grieving for everything except Marissa. I don’t mean this as coldly as it sounds; I truly do grieve for my daughter. But I did not carry her nor did I get a chance to know her that way that Sheri did. The blow to me was much more conceptual in nature than physical or real. The carrying of twins was a reality for my wife; for me, it was a happy concept, demonstrated in ultrasounds and OB visits and my wife’s growing belly. But I couldn’t really feel it or experience it. In the same way that it takes fathers longer to bond with their newborns that it does for mothers, it has taken longer for me to grieve for Marissa as loss of a child than it has for Sheri. When Marissa died, only my concept of her died, as least initially. What I lost most was the fantasy of life with twins. When Marissa died, I saw the death of my being a parent of twins, of me having three children instead of two. I saw the end of a happy pregnancy and the beginning of a time of turmoil in my life, family, and marriage. I saw the difficulty in raising a twinless twin, in dealing with a wife who had lost a child. I saw the end of the celebrity of being a parent of twins and the end of my ability to always make things turn out right. All of these conflicting feelings of loss make it harder to grieve for the loss of a child in and of itself.

It is hard to work through all of this with my wife because of two things. On the one hand, she is grieving, as well, and has little left to support me (the reverse is also true). On the other hand, we are both almost overwhelmed with the day-to-day tasks of raising two children, one of whom is a newborn, and juggling our business and home lives. This leaves precious little time and energy to discuss such weighty issues as grief. That is not to say that we don’t try, but it is very hard. We feel that we give as much attention as we can to the subject and to each other within the limits of our lives.

Much of this makes me feel guilty. In one sense, I’m not treated as if I am grieving as much as my wife. And, most of the time, I don’t feel as if I am grieving enough. In another sense, I seem to be grieving for the wrong things. And lastly, I have very few support outlets to discuss my grief. I’m assured by those who do support me, including my wife, that these feelings are normal and that I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I do nonetheless.

Thus it is strange to be a daddy who is grieving. It is such an odd mixture of societal stereotypes, personal grief, and misplaced guilt. I sometimes feel all mixed up with no outlets to talk it out. Yet other times, I hardly feel as if I am grieving at all.

It would be helpful to talk with other fathers in similar situations, but I know how difficult it is for one man to speak with another about such intensely personal feelings. I don’t know if a fathers-only support group could ever achieve a large enough population to be viable. It would be very valuable if other fathers were to write their stories or discuss their feelings within a forum such as CLIMB. At least then, other fathers could benefit from the experiences and analyses of those who have gone before them.

Daniel