[Trigger warning: discussion and reposted photos of infant loss below.]
After catching an 83-yard touchdown pass during Sunday’s game against the New York Giants, Marquise Goodwin blew a kiss to the sky and fell to his knees, overcome with emotion. The 26-year-old San Francisco wide receiver’s teammates embraced him in the end zone and supported him to his feet.
The touching moment was in stark contrast to most touchdown celebrations, where players high-five and break into choreographed dance moves. But it wasn’t until after the game that fans learned the reason for Goodwin’s powerful reaction—he and his wife lost their prematurely-born son just hours before kickoff.
He shared the heartbreaking news on his Instagram account with a snapshot of the tiny newborn’s hand wrapped around his finger. “Unfortunately, we lost our baby boy due to some complications, and had to prematurely deliver him early this morning around 4 a.m.,” he wrote.
He continued, “Although we are hurt, I am grateful for the experience and grateful that God blessed me with a wife as courageous and resilient as Morgan. The pain (physically, mentally and emotionally) that she has endured is unbelievable. Please pray for the Goodwin family.”
His wife, Morgan Goodwin, also posted a message to her Instagram account reflecting on the emotional toll of losing their child. “This truly was an amazing experience and it was also a tragic experience. But that’s okay because we won’t stop fighting and we won’t give up on what God has in store for us. It’s just important for us to remember that things happen for a reason, even though we may question ourselves ‘why us.’ Our faith is strong.”
Marquise Goodwin’s decision to publicly share his personal experience with infant loss—especially in a traditionally machismo industry like the NFL—underscores the importance of including men in the miscarriage conversation.
In "Helping Men with the Trauma of Miscarriage," published in Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training in 2010, Kiselica and Martha Rinehart, PhD, reviewed case studies of fathers who lost a baby and found that their sadness was often overlooked by others. The researchers also found that men may mask their depression over a miscarriage as anger.
Based on societal expectations, fathers in this situation may feel relegated to a supportive role and believe that they have to hold it all together for their partner. But just because they don’t experience the physical symptoms of pregnancy and miscarriage doesn’t make them any less susceptible to the grief of losing a child. Not being able to mourn and express these feelings of helplessness can ironically distance couples during a time when they need to be connected more than ever.
The Goodwin family’s story is an important reminder to foster compassion and understanding to both parents during times of loss. The support and love they feel is what will help get them through.