In keeping with the theme of the week I am sharing the following Father’s Day post from 2011. I plan on doing several past Father’s Day posts this week as we approach “that day.” Feel free to weigh in on all of them.
Last Friday night I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at a local chapter of the Compassionate Friends. I conducted my “Father’s…..The Forgotten Parent” workshop in front of about thirty bereaved parents. Although I speak to bereaved parents quite often, it still breaks my heart when we go around the room for introductions and each person tells their story. The pain is raw and it is real. These people are just looking for some sign of hope. Maybe it is words someone speaks that evening that will give them something to hold on to until the next meeting. These are people at their most vulnerable moment. There is no ego or one-upmanship going on. Just people who are sad and hurting and wanting someone to help them out of the despair they find themselves in.
My workshop is set up to be interactive so it is not just me speaking. The goal is to get others comfortable with telling their story and to talk about some of the issues they are dealing with. However, in order for people to become comfortable with me, I have to be transparent with my thoughts and experiences. So I will often tell my story, some will bring tears and other will bring a smile or laughter when I talk about some of the crazy things I did during the really dark days. Things most people in the room can relate with on some level.
As part of this workshop I will usually have a “discussion” session about a particular topic. At this particular workshop I asked the question “What are you plans for Father’s Day?” I was surprised to hear silence in the room. Many of the parents are newly bereaved and this happens to be their first Father’s Day without their child. A lot of them haven’t allowed themselves to even think about that question. While others haven’t given it much thought, hoping the day will just come and go.
The discussion then unexpectedly turned to me. An elderly lady that was there said that was a great question and then ask me “what are you doing for Father’s Day?” It kind of took me off guard and I laughed and told her “only I can ask the questions.” I really didn’t have an answer other than just spending time with my wife. I personally want people to acknowledge me as a father on this day, but I know most people (other than my wife) will not. I don’t expect them to since most people are afraid that a “Happy Father’s Day” wish will upset someone that has lost a child. This could be the case with some, but not me.
Here are a couple of questions for you to think about as we approach Father’s Day. Please share your thoughts.
What do plan on doing for Father’s Day?
How to you want others to handle you on Father’s Day?
Do you want a card and well wishes?
Will you go to breakfast with family?
Do you want to embrace the day as a father or try to avoid the pain of the loss?
Will you do something to honor your child?
Photo Credit: Neil. Moralee via Compfight cc
I have a harder time emotionally with my late son’s birthday and the anniversary of his death than with Father’s Day, since for me those are dates of real personal significance. Father’s Day is an artificial construct and easier for me to ignore. However, I do wish all my fellow Grieving Dads a Father’s Day full of meaningful reflection and profound joy.