Support provided to families experiencing the loss of an infant to sudden infant death syndrome has focused on the description of maternal bonding and the consequences to the mother. However fathers also develop significant relationships with their infants, and their responses to the unanticipated loss of their children may be different than those of mothers. In this study 28 fathers who lost infants to SIDS appeared to have identifiable patterns of behavior which were more peculiar to men: (1) the necessity to "keep busy" with increased work; (2) feelings of diminished self-worth; (3) self-blame because of lack of "care" involvement; and (4) a limited ability to ask for help. That men should be stoic and less emotional and that one need not be concerned with the reactions of fathers appears to be a reflection of societal attitudes. However, these paternal behaviors, which emerge at a time of crisis and which obstruct full expression of grief, may unwittingly be promoted by medical and health care providers who are anxious to help fathers fulfill societal expectations of masculine strength.

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