When Father’s Day is Complicated
Posted on 18th June 2020 at 11:13
Father’s Day can be a very triggering time for many of us especially if:
your father has died, even if it was a long time ago
the father of your children has died
you didn’t get the chance to get to know your father and they were absent from your life
you’re a father and your child has died
you’re male and a child you conceived was never born, or was stillborn, or was born but lived for a short time
you’ve experienced infertility and there’s never been a pregnancy, as we establish relationships to the child we want and have hopes and dreams about
Life is complicated - so are relationships
Around this time of year, it seems that Father’s Day is everywhere, especially if it’s not an easy time for you. There’s no getting away from it.
You also are entitled to feelings of sadness even if your dad is still alive and well – life is complicated, and with any change or challenge there is bound to be grief.
One way we define grief is “reaching out for someone who has always been there only to find when we need them one more time they are no longer there.”
Sadly, there will also be many reflecting that their grief is “reaching out for someone who was never there only to find when we need them one more time they are still not there.” Not all dads are present, and not all dads who are present are good parents.
If you have children and their father has died, it’s worth asking them what they would like to do. Perhaps they might like to make a memory book or do something special to remember Dad. Remember, you don’t need to be strong for them. Grief is a normal and natural reaction to loss.
If you’re a father and your child has died, you may find yourself so overwhelmed by that moment of loss, that you can no longer fully think about all the other elements of that relationship. That pain overshadows the joyful elements of that life lived, however long that life was.
An overriding element of grief is directly related to the unfinished business in the relationship lost. The things you wish might have been different, better, or more in that relationship. The unmet hopes and dreams for the future that will now be a vastly different future to what you imagined.
If you’ve experienced infertility, your loss will include your own set of hopes, dreams, and expectations about the relationship that you were going to have with your child. This loss may have been focussed on the mother. We want to acknowledge that your loss is felt at 100%, too.
You may hear unhelpful statements leading up to Father’s Day that are well-meaning but are from the head and not the heart:
“Be thankful you have another child.”
“He’s in a better place.”
“You’re lucky to have had him for so long.”
“He led a full life.”
“Don’t give up trying.”
To these we say, ‘hear the intent, not the content.’
For those who are comforting their loved ones today, remember to listen without interruption, analysis, criticism, or judgement. If you are struggling today please contact us, we will do our best to help.
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