“My dear, you must be strong now!” accompanied by a warm handshake and a knowing look, winking at the partner who caresses that heartbeat-free belly with tears. Thus begins the story of one and many mourning fathers I have known.
It begins and continues, while the father repeats to himself that he has to be strong, when he comes home for the first time and has to find things to dress the child, when he has to contact the funeral home, when he is called urgently because of the conditions of the partner they are critical, when everyone does not understand what is happening and they call, they constantly call to remind him to resist for both of us, when she cries and despairs, when she sees a pram, when sleepless nights full and empty of thoughts follow one another, when she returns to I work two days after his son’s funeral and he doesn’t even know how he got there, when his friends look at him with pain and then throw her in caciara making a stupid joke about football.
In the end he gives up and even if he has death in his heart he smiles, so as not to disappoint, to reassure him, to believe at least a little that he is a “man” as he was prescribed by doctors and even before that by his family, school, society in general. Men have to be tough, so they don’t suffer, let alone cry, at most they argue with patience.
“ I am strong“, That man repeats himself like a mantra, all day, every day, but he is tired, angry, disappointed, sad, desperate and he feels alone to come to terms with himself, with his dreams vanished in an ultrasound, with his last name written on a small tag, only with his strength.
Those around him (family, partner, friends …) know that he is suffering, but it is as if his pain was inaccessible for everyone and for him first.
As health professionals, we should start by saying that that Y chromosome doesn’t have to hold the world on its shoulders, especially when it can barely and reasonably hold itself up. Because a father who has just lost a child has every right to feel this way, but he doesn’t know it because no one has recognized him, thus denying him the key to access it.
Carrying a boulder on the heart is not easy, but carrying a boulder that no one can see can become unbearable. The serious repercussions both individually and in the couple and more generally in the family are evident in clinical practice and studies have confirmed this for a long time. In fact, it is now known that there is a higher incidence of physical and psychological disorders in people who have not received a good quality of care following a trauma.
And dismissing a man who has just lost a child with a pat on the back, or so, cannot be considered a good quality of care.
We could start from the ground up, seeing that boulder and giving it a specific weight that can be shared, considering these men strong enough not to have to ignore their pain to survive, giving them the dignity of being who they are and treating them accordingly as men and fathers. in mourning.
Dr. Letizia Giorgini, psychotherapist psychologist, CiaoLapo Toscana