Father’s Day is approaching. If you are a grieving father, or you know a grieving father, you are probably aware of the weight that this day holds. The father who is grieving already struggled to be acknowledged, but there’s something about Father’s Day that makes it more difficult.
While their intentions are good, many people feel that grieving parents would rather ignore occasions like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. They assume no bereaved parent would want to take part in a day dedicated the very thing they are missing out on.
Their assumptions are definitely misguided. While no grieving father is necessarily looking to celebrate on such a complicated day, I believe every father hopes to have his fatherhood acknowledged. Especially when his child is dead and his fatherhood is so often forgotten.
So on this Father’s Day, let’s include ALL fathers–even the ones who have no children we can see. There’s no doubt that Father’s Day can bring hurt, but there are ways to ease that hurt and bring some comfort to the father who is grieving.
1. Talk about their baby or their child.
Even if you have never mentioned their baby before, this Father’s Day would be a great day to start. It’s never too late to let a father know that you are thinking of their child. He has not forgotten they are gone and he will definitely remember those who include his child.
2. Tell them what an incredible father they are.
The father who is grieving, is a father stronger than any other. Not only must he live without his children, but he is often overlooked. His circumstances may not match up with every other dad, but the love he has for his children is no different. Tell him what an awesome dad he is.
3. Do something kind in their name or the name of their child.
Donate to a charity that is meaningful to them or even a charity that is meaningful to you. Weed the neighbor’s garden. Leave dinner on someone’s doorstep. Share your act of kindness with the father you love. Show them what wonderful things their fatherhood inspires.
4. Give them a card.
They can be hard to find, but there are cards out there for the father who is grieving. If you can’t find one that seems appropriate, a blank card is a great place to jot down a note to let them know you care.
5. Send a text message or an email.
It doesn’t have to be anything more than a simple “Thinking of you today.” Even if the father you know seems like the kind who doesn’t want to talk about it, just go ahead and reach out. They may not return your text or respond to your email, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored. Just hearing from loved ones helps make the lonely days feel a little more full.
6. Invite them to go somewhere.
Cookout, baseball game, hike, lunch. Whatever you are up to on Father’s Day weekend–ask your grieving dad friend if they want to come along. There’s a very good chance they will say no–a very good chance. Going out on Father’s Day is tricky business. But, there is also a chance they will say yes. They might welcome the opportunity to leave the house, but not want to do it alone. Whether they answer you yes or no, or even if they ignore your request, they are likely to be grateful for your consideration.
7. Be their advocate.
Chances are, if you are reading articles like this, you care very much about the grieving father you know. It is also very possible that you know others who care about this father too. In addition to reaching out to the father, reach out to their other friends and family. Encourage them to honor their loved one and remember him on Father’s Day.
However you choose to reach out this Father’s Day, please know that you are doing something very important.
You are taking a moment to acknowledge the fatherhood of a father who is often forgotten. On Father’s Day, and every day, we should honor the father who proves a heart is stronger than any pair of arms.