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Helping a Father Through Father's Day
Written by Clara Hinton   |  Jun 08, 2003
Fatherís Day has become a traditional holiday celebrated by many with gifts, cards, family gatherings, and perhaps even a special dinner out just for daddy. Stores begin advertising for Fatherís Day weeks in advance of the actual holiday. The scenes in advertisements and cards always depict a loving father with a child snuggled close to that special man called daddy.

Many fathers, however, have experienced the devastation of losing a child, and there seems to be an almost non-existent recognition of the fact that fathers suffer from feelings of lost dreams, loneliness, failure, and loss of identity when a child has died. Very rarely are comments of support made to the father in a family when a child has died. For some reason, our society seems to be more in tune to the feelings of the pain a mother experiences during child loss. Fathers are somehow expected to be stronger emotionally, and they are expected to heal much sooner.

What can be done to show support on Fatherís Day to a father who has experienced the deep pain of losing a child? Probably the most appreciated gesture of support would be to acknowledge the fact that the father is still a father even though his child is no longer living on this earth. Refer to him as a father, and express your genuine sorrow for his loss. Fathers who have lost a child as early as miscarriage should certainly be included among the group of grieving fathers. Often, fathers of miscarried babies are never given any recognition of being a father.

Finding a Fatherís Day card specifically for fathers who have lost a child can be next to impossible. If you cannot find a card with an appropriate verse, choose a blank card and write your own message from the heart. ďSharing in your sorrow this Fatherís DayĒ or ďBlessings to you this Fatherís Day as God watches over your heavenly angelĒ will show a tremendous amount of compassion and support to a father who is grieving the loss of a child on Fatherís Day.

Recognize the fact that fathers go through emotional upheavals during the grief of child loss. Fathers grieve differently than mothers, so they might not want a lot of special treatment on Fatherís Day. Men are generally less apt to talk about their feelings of hurt and loss than women, but those feelings are still there and need to be recognized. Fatherís Day without a child can be just as emotionally heartbreaking for a father as Motherís Day is for a mother without her child. We need to be sensitive to the needs of fathers, too!

Special holidays stir up many different emotions for fathers, and Fatherís Day is a particularly difficult holiday to go through following the loss of a child. With help and support from family and friends, a father can move forward in his grief. By letting a father know that he has not been forgotten on Fatherís Day, you will validate his identity as a father, and you will allow him the special privilege of once again being called that most cherished name of allódaddy.

Finally, find some way to validate the fact that a father is still a father even though his child is not living. Fathers are by nature ďfixersĒ and the loss of a child is one loss that cannot be fixed. This fact is often very hard for a man to accept. By giving a card and a personal word on Fatherís Day, you will help validate to the father that he is still honored among that special group of men called fathers on Fatherís Day. Validation of fatherhood on Fatherís Day is one more step forward in this process we call grief.
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