Written by Clara Hinton
Father’s are such amazing people. They are strong. They are brave. They are protectors. They are providers. And, they also are grievers. Many times we forget the last part. Fathers have hearts that are kind and sensitive, and they feel pain. So often, when child loss occurs, people will direct their comments to only the mother. “How are you feeling?” “I’m so sorry this has happened to you.” “It’s going to take a while for you to work through this, but I’m sure your husband will stay strong and help you.”
Father’s Day is a difficult day for any father who has lost a child, and in many ways it is a doubly difficult day because he knows that he cannot fix or repair the pain that his wife is feeling. That is a double blow to the heart of a father. His heart is hurting both for his loss and for the fact that he cannot take away this pain for his wife.
Reminders of fatherhood are all around. We see photos of dads and their children in magazines, on television commercials, in ads for clothing and toys. Walk into any store that sells bikes, fishing gear, hunting gear, or toys and there will be advertisements for fathers and their children. Seeing these visual pictures are like hot irons searing the heart of a man who has lost a child. And, often he has nobody to talk to, and no place to go where he can shed his tears or show his emotions.
We need to be especially sensitive to men who have lost a child on Father’s Day because they often will not express any of their feelings of pain, yet the pain is still there. It’s okay to mention the loss of his child. In fact, it’s appropriate to do so because a father will be thinking of his child and needs validation of his fatherhood. It’s always encouraging to know that you are remembered. It’s especially encouraging to know that others have remembered your child.
Keep your comments brief, but don’t be afraid to say, “I know this is a hard day for you, but I want you to know I’m thinking about you.” Those are powerful words and can help a hurting heart to begin to heal.
Most men like to do things with their hands and often will express their sorrow by building something or working extra hours at the office proving that they can accomplish a hard task. Try to be understanding during those moments when it is hard for a man to speak of his pain with words. Encourage things like working in the yard, going hiking, playing basketball, or building a bird house. Anything that is physical is a way to relieve many of the pressures of a pained, hurting heart.
Lastly, remember that Father’s Day is a day to remember and honor fathers. Even though a father does not have his child nearby physically, he is still a father. By you validating him as being a father, you will help bring about healing and encouragement to a grieving father’s heart.