Advice for bereaved dads facing Father’s Day

Father’s Day promotions are everywhere – but not everyone feels like celebrating. We’ve spoken to our counsellor Scott Reeve to find out how dads whose child has died might be feeling, and asked his advice on how they, family and friends might approach this difficult time.

How might bereaved dads feel in the build up to Father’s Day?

As with any grief there is no set rule or answer. Some dads may be dreading it and want the day to pass as quickly as possible. Some dads might find that the build up is worse than the day itself.

Some families choose to distract themselves when everyone else is celebrating and might arrange to go away or be by themselves.

Are there any coping strategies you could recommend?

The main one would be to not expect too much from yourself. Don’t put any added pressure on yourself to do anything or be a certain way.

There is no ‘normal’ way to feel loss. Everyone will feel it differently. Please be kind and have compassion for yourselves. And whatever you do on this day is ok.

How might partners/mums help support bereaved dads on Father’s Day?

This might sound contradictory but I would say don’t make a huge fuss or put added pressure on dads in the build up to this day. But also don’t ignore Dads either. One common theme I hear from bereaved dads is the frustration they feel when people ignore their loss completely.

Is it a good idea to establish some sort of tradition on Father’s Day to remember your child?

This really is a ‘do what feels right for you’ scenario. Some Dads may find a real place of peace they like to go to and remember their child or children. Or partake in a certain activity or event in remembrance. Other Dads may just need to ‘get through’ the day any way possible. All these are ok.

Is there anything that friends and family can do to help make the day less painful?

Unfortunately not, this pain in loss cannot be taken away. However this doesn’t mean that families and friends can’t say on this day that they are thinking of them, or offer to visit them.

Should you send dads who’ve lost their child a Father’s Day card?

Again, there is no right or wrong. If a card feels too much to send, then simply let that father know that you are thinking of them.

There is a misconception that dads don’t grieve as much as mums. This is not true, some dads may feel the need to hide their grief more, but they have still lost a child. They need our love and care as much as anyone.

Where can bereaved dads turn for help and support?

The dads I have worked with who have had a child die can find some solace in communities and connection with other dads or parents who have suffered something similar. Whether that be online or in attending groups, such as those we run at Hope House and Ty Gobaith.

Hope House Children’s Hospices offer a free and confidential counselling service to dads, and family members, who have been affected by the death of a baby, child or young person up to the age of 25 years when they died. This support is available to anyone living in Shropshire, Cheshire, Mid and North Wales.

Our counselling service is British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Accredited and all our counsellors are registered or accredited members of the BACP.

Please call Hope House on 01691 672618 or Ty Gobaith on 01492 554443 for more information about how we can help.

Every week three local families face their biggest fear and their child dies. Tragically we can only afford to help one. No one should suffer the death of a child alone and with your help they won’t have to. Please donate now, so we can be there for every family whose child dies.

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