Father sets up peer group to support grieving dads after a partner's pregnancy loss.


A father who lost two children due to miscarriage has helped set up a volunteer male-to-male peer support service for other grieving dads.

Wayne Faulkner, who lives in Western Australia and has a full-time job, also volunteers with Sands Australia – a not-for-profit organisation of bereaved parents that support other parents who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn deaths.

Mr Faulkner started the volunteer male-to-male peer support service where “dads, granddads, brothers and workmates can come to gain more information on how they can understand and cope with the tragic circumstances of the death of their baby”.

“The male peer-to-peer support thing came from what I’m doing and that’s now filtering out into all the states, which is fantastic,” he said.

“We are all volunteers, we all have other jobs – real jobs.

“I work in the oil and gas industry in logistics and that’s as stressful as a job I’ve have at the moment anyway.

Mr Faulker said the main theme through everything that Sands did was about peer support.

“To take this on board on top of that, I thought ‘well, maybe it’s going to take off fairly slowly, and as we develop it, there’ll be more blokes want to come on board, and maybe husbands of the mums that are already involved as volunteers will want to help and assist’, and that’s slowly happening.”

He said the main theme through everything that Sands does was about peer support.

“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 not, we don’t do that,” he said.

“We’re here to listen, we’re here as a peer group, we’re here to let you understand that we understand.”

‘Talking about it is the key’

Mr Faulkner said there was nowhere for men to go in the 1980s when he was grieving the loss of two children with his first wife.

“As a man I had nowhere to go and nowhere to express my own grief as Sands had not been started at that time,” he said.

He said he thought a father’s grief was “a different sort of grief” to a mother’s.

“It’s still just as strong and just as important to be recognised,” he said.

“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.”

He said over the last 10 years or more, there had been a “huge improvement” in men wanting to be more open and share their emotions.

“It is a relief and you can see it – you can actually feel it in a room when a guy finally realises ‘whew, that took a load off’,” he said.

“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.

“It’s very difficult and very brave I think for a man to make that initial call.


“Talking about it is the key.”

Mr Faulkner said his work as a volunteer male parent supporter had helped him too.

“It’s a huge responsibility that I have and I don’t take that lightly,” he said.

“It may seem funny, but it’s not just helping them, it’s helping me too.

“It’s helping me further that process that I didn’t get the opportunity to go through all those years ago.”

Early pregnancy loss statistics not fully captured

One in four pregnancies ended in miscarriage in Australia, which Sands Queensland president Nicole Ireland said was a “fairly standard statistic nationally”.

“The challenge with miscarriage statistics is that not everyone presents to hospital or a GP, so they don’t necessarily always get captured,” Ms Ireland said.

“Everyone’s different obviously in whether they seek out support for early pregnancy loss – some people do, some people don’t.”

Ms Ireland said her first contact with Sands was when her son was stillborn about a decade ago.

She now has two daughters, aged six and four.

“My son would have been 10 in February, so I’ve obviously been through quite a process with Sands myself,” she said.

“The main focus for us is that making sure that we provide plenty of choice for people.

“But we also work closely as we can with hospitals to make sure they’ve got the information, that they’re offering it to people, that they try to get the balance right between offering the information and pushing it onto people.”

Social media offers more options to get help

Ms Ireland social media offered the opportunity for Sands to host various groups on Facebook, such as for bereaved dads, parent support groups, and people trying for a subsequent pregnancy.

“We have a number of specific groups, but they are closed groups,” she said.

“You as a person can’t jump on and have a look at what our dads are saying to one another – you have to go through a process with us.

“It’s just a one-page process, it’s not that complex – but it is necessary to maintain the integrity of the group.

“What we find now is that’s it’s good to offer all of the options to people – some people prefer online, some people still want to come to events, and come and meet people and come to the office.”

Ms Ireland said it was also important to Sands to help parents create memories of their babies.

“We’re not going to make it better,” she said.

“But at least [we can help raise awareness of] things like memory creation and photos and all those sorts of things – that they may not have necessarily known about otherwise … and supporting parents with their other children and in subsequent pregnancies.”

This article was originally published by ABC news

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