Another significant date is approaching – Fathers Day. I wish all the Bereaved Dad’s a day that is a reflection of the love they hold for their child even though it is not the way anyone every thought it would be. While our response to the day may change over time, the sorrow and pain as this day comes and goes can be draining and emotionally exhausting and like any event, the lead up can often feel worse than the day itself.
If you have recently (or not so recently) had your Dad pass away then this day can also feel altered and different to the majority around you.
I have taken extracts from the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement and provided some thoughts.
One thing I would like to add is that grief impacts us all differently so if you are a partner wanting to make this day really special but he seems reserved then that is ok……remember Father’s Day is a day for Dad’s and it needs to be how he wants to spend it. Sometimes we want to put our own grief support onto our partners and then we wonder why we end up arguing……if they don’t want to do anything or acknowledge the day the way you would like that’s ok…..it’s their day and it doesn’t mean they are not hurting just maybe coping with the impact differently.
If there is a sense of panic about the day then ask yourself, “What do I need at this time?”. Be in tune with your needs as well as those around you. It is OK to put yourself first (this is your day).
Fathers Day may have established traditions and there may be pressure to fulfil those customs – it is ok to alter your traditions if you need to. Your “normal” has inevitably changed and you may prefer to create new traditions.
If you know how you are going to spend the day, let family and friends know what you intend to do. Be honest with them and let them know that it is a difficult time for you. Often they can feel unsure how to act around you, so let them know that it is OK for them to talk about your baby and that if you get upset that is OK too.
Try to take care of yourself emotionally. Try not to suppress your emotions and at the same time don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself if this occurs. Happiness and sadness can co-exist and being happy is not disrespectful of your child. It is also OK if you choose to avoid people at this time, particularly those who are unable to understand your experience of loss.
On Fathers Day, free yourself from the expectations of yourself and others, and give yourself permission to not be OK if that is the way you feel. Use the day to do something you wouldn’t normally do in memory of your baby, child or Father and do something that makes you feel good. It may be as simple as reading a magazine, going for walk, listening to music or enjoying a good breakie.
May the day be a peaceful one.