“Father’s Day – Conflict”

Here we are, another event that is about to occur that triggers emotions in men that have lost a child (or have lost a dad for that matter), Father’s Day.  Since I have lost two children during different times of the year, I have the pleasure of dealing with multiple event triggers throughout the year.  It seems like my wife and I are constantly thinking about birthdays, death days, Holidays, Father’s and Mother’s Day.

I was telling my wife that I was struggling with writing a topic about Father’s Day this year.  I was looking for something profound to write about, something that will strike a cord and be different from other Father’s Day topics.  My wife said, “Why, does it have to be “so powerful, speak from the heart and the truth about these types of days.””  Excellent point.  As our conversation went on, we started to discuss how for her, Mother’s Day is an internal conflict.  She wants to be recognized as a mother, but she also struggles with the fact she has no living children.

I thought about that for a while and I have to say this internal conflict occurs on most of these trigger days.  You do not want anyone to forget you are a father or that you have lost a child, but it’s also is a tough day.  Bittersweet from the standpoint that I am proud to be their daddy, but it’s hard not to be able to spend the day with them or get a phone call wishing you Happy Father’s Day.  I often get annoyed during these times because I rarely get a Father’s Day wish from my direct family, but I know others in the family are receiving them.  It’s like since my children are dead, I am no longer a Father.  That is the conflict, I know they don’t believe that, but sometimes I allow myself to think they do.  It goes back to the internal struggle of do we acknowledge the day or do we not.

Over the years, my wife and I have decided to acknowledge these days by giving cards that are not only from each other, but also from Katie and Noah. Sure it triggers emotion, but is that such a bad thing?  I have come to learn that it’s not.  I believe they deserve for me to feel the pain of losing them.  I don’t mean all day, every day, but just for a moment.

I was on a phone call yesterday with a guy that I do business with as part of my job.  I know he lost a baby to SIDS 25 years ago.  I asked him, “How are you with Father’s Day?”  He responded with “I am ok with it, it took me a while to get to the point, but it doesn’t trigger the emotion it did early on”.  I thought about what he said and I agreed with what he said.  Although the day was tough early on, it has become a day where I feel a strong sense of pride to be the dad of my two beautiful babies.  I love the feeling of being their dad.  Yeah, I wish they were here to spend the day with me, but I know they’re with me in other ways.

Wishing each and every one of you a Happy Father’s Day.

How do you plan on spending Father’s Day this year?


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User Comments ( 17 )

  • Sheila Hunter

    Hello. I’m Nick Nardone’s sister Sheila and Michelle’s Aunt She She. My husband is an MD and I’m a chemist. we know what these drugs and substances do to the mind and body of a young teenager. These evil drug dealers and sellers use a portion of this knowledge to hook these kids unto drugs, thereby securing money for months and years to come in their pockets. The pain and sorrow caused to us and our families is immeasurable. The book “Grieving Dads” is straightforward and honest account of this grief and the powerful change that occurs, as in my brother Nick’s life, after the death of a child. My brother Nicky as I knew him, seemed to die w/ Michelle that day. I will never have the same brother again. I love and adore him, but he is just simply not the same person anymore. To watch his grief from afar (we live in Utah) has been heart wrenching and painful, and has made me his sister, feel utterly helpless. I know the whole family adores Nick and Michelle and Lauren and Bryan. Yet we were powerless to protect them, so we thought, against this great evil, drugs and drug dealers. I since then, have joined various organizations like CERT, and MRC (medical reserve corp) I educate every person I can to the dangers of drug use and abuse as does my husband. The drug dealer will be crushed some day because love is more powerful then hate, sin and destruction. I know the work this site and my brother does to help educate and comfort others, will succeed and truly save other young people and their families. I highly recommend this book for yourself or a friend or family member. I believe all parents should educate themselves to the real threats in their schools and neighborhoods and fight against these killers. I love my dear Michelle and miss her so much. She is one of those people whom you meet, that has the type of soul/spirit that reaches you with love and depth. There will be noone on this earth to replace her, but I do believe her soul lives forever and that someday we will all be together again in the next life.

    • Grieving Dads

      Sheila – Thank you for the recommendation of this important book. As you have seen first hand with your brother, the impact of child loss is profound. Thank you for being such a support for your brother Nick and his wife. I am honored to be able to share Nick’s and Michelle’s story as part of this book.



  • Pat

    John wrote: If I could have any gift in the world, it would be just one more minute with my precious baby boy.

    I had/have a lot of emotions today…like the rest of you….and I thought about what I wanted to say….

    but when I read what John wrote…. it simply said it all and every other thought vanished from my head…

    Thank you, John.

    And Thank all of you for coming here to share…today…and everyday..


  • Beautiful and heartfelt!

  • Thom

    Happy Fathers Day to all of the grieving dads out there. I spent time in contemplation and with a pen. Here’s a poem I wrote to mark the day.

    The Space Between

    I’m ok. I’m doing fine.
    (though for the record, I hate that question)

    The reality is most days are just that.

    I wake-up. I keep breathing. I walk in a straight line. I work among the productive. I go out to dinner. I even laugh with friends.

    Sometimes, I forget for an hour or two.

    Lost in a good book. Clearing my head on a long run. Solving a client’s problem. Listening to a friend.

    But it won’t be long before memories find their way to the surface. And emotion.

    I am changed, I know.
    Different than before.

    Now I have a label that I can own for all of time.

    One that comes with the sorrow, yet without the sweet joys any longer.

    One that is at once both excruciatingly painful and profoundly beautiful.

    The other thing is, my perspective’s shifted and not in the direction where growth emerges.

    No, this is more limiting because I trust the universe so much less.
    Than before. Different than before.

    So, I float in the space between what was, what is, anxious about what will be.

    Watching my heart and waiting for the next time someone asks how I’m doing.

    • Grieving Dads

      Thom – Thank you for sharing this poem. I can relate with many of the lines in the poem. “I float in the space between what was, what is, anxious about what will be”. So true.


    • Grieving Dads


      Thanks for sharing this here. I can relate with many of the lines in this piece.


    • Pat

      Hi Thom. Thanks so much for taking the time to pen this poem. I related to it 100%….

      I’d like to ask your permission to share it with other folks from my grief class as I believe it will strike a chord with them as well. (the class has ended but the friendships endure)

      many thanks


      • Thom

        Hi, Pat.

        You have my permission to use the poem in your grief class… and to share with anyone.

        Many thanks.

        – Thom

  • John Wolfe

    I treat father’s day the same way I typed it, nothing to capitalize on, nothing to celebrate. Of course, I pretty much treated it that way for the last twenty years or so, and it would be my daughter and my father that would remind me of it. After my daughter moved out I usually got two calls on father’s day, one from Allison and one from my Dad. This will be the second year I won’t get a call from Allison and my first year not getting a call from my Dad as he passed away this past February.

    My wife refuses to honor Mother’s Day…she’s just not ready for it yet, so we treat both days as “just another day” for now.

    We do wish a Happy Father’s Day to all those Dad’s that wish to celebrate it and say to the others, be patient, give it time. It will come if you want it to.

    • Grieving Dads


      I too do not get phone calls on Fathers Day. Not from my kids or from others. But I have become ok with that, mainly because I cannot change it.



  • John

    Thank you for writing this. It’s been 8 years since my six year old son and I were run over in a cross walk trying to get a bus to go to kindergarten. It’s only been in the past 2-3 years that I’ve come to grips with his loss and the post traumatic stress that accompanied it, which has made it so difficult to separate the memory of one of the most amazing people i’ve ever known from the accident itself.

    I don’t have the raw, angry, soul-shredding feelings I used to have for many years after the accident. So the “trigger”, though still there, doesn’t elicit such dreadful feelings. John, I understand your anger and respect it. And it’s yours and you deserve to have it. I also know you deserve to have the memory of how sweet your daughter was on the last Father’s Day.

    Everyone deserves to have their feelings, and grieving parents have more of a right than anyone else, quite frankly.

    The concept of a “trigger” and the conflicting emotions around Father’s Day is so spot on. I was thinking the same thing.

    Nicky has a brother Colin, now 11, and a new half brother Aidan. I have a new wife, and our anniversary is on Father’s Day. It is my “duty” to mask some of my emotions so I can enjoy Father’s Day with my two boys who are alive with me…and to enjoy it with my new wife and not be so sad. I know I deserve a good Father’s Day, knowing I am a daddy to three incredible boys. I know my two living children deserve a dad who copes well enough to have a Father’s Day with.

    But it is such a HARD, treacherous, steep hill to climb and a lot to ask, even after all these years. To be there for kids who are with me, and my wife. But to swallow the grief, or just accept it, and try to remember all the wonderfulness of Nicky’s life. How are you supposed to be happy and so sad at the same time? Sometimes I feel like it is such a sacrifice I have to make for my two remaining sons. But I guess that’s part of being a dad too…the sacrifices never end.

    Sometimes I just want people to remember Nicholas on Father’s Day, or understand how so very hard and sad it is. And how impossibly hard it is to manage those feelings with being there for others. I don’t want them to want me to be “ok” on Father’s Day because they are mentally feeble or too shallow to fathom what it takes to live through life with this existential duality.

    But most of all, I always come back to wanting my Nicholas back on Father’s Day. If I could have any gift in the world, it would be just one more minute with my precious baby boy.

    • Grieving Dads


      If only we could get those types of wishes granted. I would love to hold both my Katie and Noah, if only for a few minutes.

      I also understand the PTSD, the first chapter in my book talks about this. Most grief books do not even mention it, but its a big part of what we go through.

      Thanks for sharing your story.



  • John Geraci

    Good post. Really hits home. June 1st was my daughter Leslie’s birthday. July 1st will be the first anniversary of her death. And I find myself thinking back a year ago on each particular day and remembering what we were doing, how we were trying to deal with the inevitable. And looking back now and saying, Damn, she only had x more days to live. It’s a shitty, fucking way to live. Leslie was so sweet last Father’s Day – there she was with that alien actually extruding from the incision in her side. (We called the tumor an alien because that’s what it was- an evil beast that had penetrated her body). Some days it really seems useless to value Life. Why? It’s all so worthless now. And, yeah, I know I have to carry on for my other daughter and Leslie’s family, but ya know..?

    My sincere wishes for every father out there.

    • Grieving Dads

      John – I know and feel your pain all to well. And yeah, “I know”. Some days seem almost unbearable, especially early on.

      Thank you for sharing your story of Leslie from last Father’s Day.



  • Thanks for sharing this post. My husband died 6 years ago and I still feel emotional every Father’s Day as I watch my daughter struggle at church watching all her friends sitting with their dads. It’s a constant reminder of our loss. I thank God for the Daddy she had in spite of that loss.

    • Grieving Dads

      Natalie – You are welcome for the post. I am sorry for teh loss of your husband. I can see how Fathers Day can be painful as you watch your daughter with her friends. Tough stuff.

      Peace to you and your daughter.