It’s that time of year again, Father’s Day.  It’s hard to get excited about this day if you have had a child die.  For this father, this day is more about remembering the children that are no longer with me in the physical sense.

I’ll be spending this Father’s Day out on the road interviewing other grieving dads for this project.  I am trying to bring some sort of awareness to the many dads that have lost children and struggle everyday to get out of bed and do something positive to honor their child that has died.

Many of the fathers I meet that have lost children feel like they let them down as a father.  They should have protected them.  That’s what a father does right? Protect.  We are also “fixers” and we like to fix things, but we couldn’t fix the problems that were wrong with our children or the situation our children found themselves in.

Many of these dads struggle with seeing the words “Happy Father’s Day”.  Seeing that statement gnaws at the already festering wound that has yet to heal, it’s a wound that never completely heals.  Over time you can get through the loss of a child, but you never get beyond it.  Can you eventually get back on your feet and learn to enjoy life again?  Yes.  Will you life ever go back to the way it was?  No.   

Is it possible to have a “Happy” Fathers Day after a loss of a child?  Yes, but for very different reasons than most people think.  The happiness comes into play when you reflect on the time you spent with your child, although you wished you had more time.  You’re happy because it was an honor to be their dad.  The love you feel inside for that child makes you smile and hurt at the same time.  The happiness for these fathers does not come from a gift that was wrapped up real nice and given to them on this day.  The happiness comes from the gift of being their dad.

If you know a dad that has experienced the death of a child, don’t be afraid to reach out to him on this day or any day for that matter.  As difficult of a day it is, he would love to hear from you.  Someone acknowledging that he is a dad, a dad that has experienced the death of a child.

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  • Laurie Bellino

    I would love to get your book for Father’s Day for my husband, who lost both his children/sons (from his first marriage), within 10 months of each other. The youngest last October and his oldest the day after Christmas in 2015. But he always tells me he can’t retain what he reads, hence the reason he dropped out of high school and later got his GED. This is the first Father’s Day he won’t have either of his children and I just don’t know what to do for him. He has his good days and bad days, but mostly bad ones and I want him to reach out to go to some type of counseling for this, along with his depression, but he doesn’t want to, nor can I make him. He’s talked about suicide and this has also put a toll on our marriage (among other issues) and I’m at a loss. I love him and just wish I could help. Any suggestions?

  • John Fitzgerald

    I am 17 weeks in to losing my son to suicide . I found him the day after Ash Wednesday. I am so broken inside . This pain is unbearable. He used my fathers shotgun . He was 24 . I am hurting so bad . I had no idea Father’s Day was coming up till I saw it on a sign yesterday. My entire family is just destroyed. We are trying so hard . I am trying so hard . Moment to moment second to second . … I have no idea what to do about Father’s Day . My dad is in so much pain too. No answers … Just pain ,grief, and sorrow . I need to make it special for his little brothers . They both have autism so they don’t really understand that he is gone . Every morning I wake up and realize it was not a nightmare it is real and the reality of it still has not set in yet . I want to get better so bad …. It feels like I just get worse every day and nobody gets it … No one understands… It is hell on earth …. I am trying to hide it so hard but you just can’t … You simply just cannot do it . The hurt is a hurricane of emotion …. Why my god why …. 17 weeks feels like 17 seconds ….

    • John,

      I am sorry for your loss and the pain you are dealing with. I wish there was something I could say or do to take away the pain you are feeling.

      This is a long road and one that cannot be rushed. This pain takes its sweet time and will begin to lift when it is ready. However, I learned the hard way there are things I can do to help the “process”. I learned to tell my story to counselors, friends, support groups or anyone else that would listen. When I say tell my story, I mean all of it, even the really dark stuff I experienced during the losses. Things I witnessed, felt and observed. It helps to get it out and it must be done.

      Not sure if you have read my book yet, but I recommend you and your father read it to help you realized you are not alone and that others have gone through what you are experiencing. Ask others to read it so they understand how difficult this is for you and your father.

      We are here for you. Feel free to post here anytime. Call me if you need to talk.

      Peace.

      Kelly

    • Christina

      Oh love, I am so sorry for your loss…we just lost my 22yr old brother to suicide (it’ll be four weeks Sunday) the pain is incredibly overwhelming… I was his big sister and feel like I should have fixed this but I know my daddy feels that a million times over…i can to this page to figure out what to do for fathers day BC I know he is not even in the mood to celebrate…
      If you need to talk you can email me at crogers6510@gmail.com

    • Diane

      I understand. This will be my husbands first Fathers Day without our son. He took his life Feb. 21 of this year. There is nothing I can say to make this better. Tomorrow it will be 4 months since he died. I am crying as I right this as life has no joy any longer. I try to find it in my grandchildren ( he left behind a 14 year old son) but I just go through the motions of life. They say it gets better but how can it. I will never have my son back and I died that day as well. I will be thinking of you, Diane

  • Kathleen Shaputis

    I posted your link on my 16 year old grandson’s Facebook page. He just lost his son on May 26th, Junior was three months old. Looks like they will call the death SIDS, he was on life support for ten days because the baby’s mother refused to let him go. I am so proud of my grandson’s incredible love for his son. Seeing them together always brought a smile, both were so animated and busy. I will honor this coming holiday with him if he’ll let me, but I won’t push. It has helped to read the many others on your site. Thank you for listening.

  • LauraC

    I am looking for some help for my Dad this year. My baby brother committed suicide at the age of 17 on March 16th of this year (his girlfriend cheated on him and truthfully, he just didn’t know how to handle it). I just don’t know what to do for my Dad this year that won’t cause him pain but to know that we love him and believe he did not fail as a father. I want to do something in honor of my brother so my dad knows- when think of him, he is with us.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated for this heart broken sister.

    • LauraC – Thank you for reaching out to our grieving dads community. I am sorry for the loss of you baby brother. Heartbreaking story and one I have heard from other parents that have lost a child to these circumstances.

      I wish there was an easy answer to your question, but I will try to give you some things to think about. First, he is going to be feeling the pain regardless of what you do or say, so my recommendation is to just let him know that you understand that he is hurting. Just be with him letting him know he is loved. There is comfort in being with those that support you and love you. There are no words to take away his pain, I wish there were. Maybe find a charity walk/run that day and participate in it in honor of your brother. Maybe a suicide awareness event or a Fathers Day event.

      Unfortunately, we are all good at guilt and having the felling of failure. Its just who we are and it something he will have to work through in the years the come. Not sure if you have read my book or shared the book with him, but it gives some insight into what he is dealing with as a grieving dad. There are other stories similar to your story in the book, it may help him not feel so alone and help him realize that others also have the feelings/thoughts that he has.

      Wishing you and your family peace.

      Kelly

      • LauraC

        Thank you so much for this reply. I think I will get him your book to help. 🙂

  • Dan

    My son died after living for only 5 days. He died a year ago on May 14th. So while it’s my 2nd Father’s Day without my beautiful baby bay, it feels like something that’s looming and coming to rip my heart out all over again. What’s worse is I’m not sure if anybody knows how to handle me during these tough occasions, and I’m not sure how I want to be treated either. All I know is that it’s almost unbearable to deal with.

    • Mark

      Hi Dan, after reading this post and then seeing your comment first I really felt like I needed to reach out to you. I relate exactly to the feelings you expressed about dealing with Father’s day. My son died last september after also only living for 5 days. I just wanted you to know that knowing I am not alone in my pain on this day is a little bit of a comfort to me. You are in my thoughts and prayers today.

  • L

    Hi, I just came across this post via FB, I have such a heavy heart for my beautiful husband who will have his 2nd Fathers day without his only son. He is gone 14 months, he was 14 yrs old.. My heart breaks looking at his sadness & pain, I talk a lot & constantly, my husband does not. May all the grieving dads out there feel the love of their lost children on Sunday, thank you for this post I will show this to my wonderful husband.

    Stephanie,

  • Dick. Harrison

    It has been a year this past April since my daughter of 38 passed away. Not a day goes by without be thinking of her. She has a twin brother that is real close to me to say the least. I know I will carry my broken heart until my last breath. Fathers Day is going to be tough I know for sure. The only thing that makes my days bearable is my faith. By trying to turn ones actions into something that helps others also helps very much

  • John Incollingo

    I am about to experience my first Father’s Day without my Amy. It’s ten months since devastation day. Thought it might be nice to take a drive down the shore on Sunday with my wife and kids. Dee told me that Nick would not be able to handle such a trip because the shore and our Amy are intrinsically related. Happy Father’s Day – I think not.

  • Damien

    We lost our first born son on the night before Father’s Day here in Australia, so I woke to what should have been my first Father’s Day minus my child. This was nearly 5 years ago, and even though we have been blessed with wonderful twin boys since, Fathers day will forever be a day of sorrow and rememberance as it is intrinsically linked to the birth/death day of our first son.

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  • Shaun vivian

    hi i lost a son after 90 minutes after birth and now try to help people especially fathers here in New Zealand. i can understand and nodd when i see what you have written as we are the silent ones who have to suffer by ourselves whilst we look after our partner or wife as they grieve and also try to work out what was wrong and why could i not fix it. yes it is Fathers day and for the sake of my other children it will be a happy fathers day but it will also be a day i feel i have let down my son who we have lost.

  • Kelly

    Thank you for this. My husband and I lost our first born son/our only child when he was 16-18 weeks gestation. So many people put their focus on the mom…but I see my husband’s grief, pain, and disillusionment when almost everything out there just talks about a Mother’s loss. My husband has parented our son beautifully. He was protective of our son’s photos (people can be cruel towards a baby who is only 6 inches long), He wrote a song in honor of our son, and He made our son’s headstone…among many other things. I know he is a great father…He shows honor to a little boy that he never got to hold…alive. So when people look at us as a family of 2…our hearts cry out “we are a family of 3!” the dedication of my husband to me and our son is priceless!
    Thank you for honoring and bringing awareness to this difficult topic.

  • Hi Kelly,

    I read the overview of your book and have placed a pre-book order. I also just read your Happy Father’s Day blog from June 2010, and as I weep now I want to say thank you for all that you do.

    Paul Bailey,
    A grieving Dad