Tips for Supporting a Grieving Dad on Father’s Day
Know a father whose world changed forever due to the death of their child? Here are some ways to support them.
When someone loses a child, their world changes forever. Father’s Day is just one of many days that make that loss feel even more profound. A father’s grief is sometimes overlooked even though miscarriage or the death of a child is as significant of a loss for them as it is for mothers. Both want to be parents and can differ in how they express grief. Men are taught to be less open with their emotions and can sometimes feel shame for experiencing or expressing grief. He may process his grief through physical activity, thinking, and doing rather than openly verbalizing feelings. It’s important to know that even if he’s not vocal a father still has needs and feelings. Here are some tips from one grieving father on how to show your support:
- Dads are often overlooked, and it’s assumed their loss isn’t as great as the mother’s. This isn’t true, so it’s important to express support and check in. Even stop by to say “hi” or have a drink/coffee.
- Some men prefer to not talk about their feelings, but they still need support. This dad found it helpful when people would do things with him like golf, play video games, canoe, video chat, BBQ etc. So reach out – do something to show support
- Support groups can be uncomfortable. IF it feels right, and your friend is open, find a men’s support group and go with him. The key is to offer to go with him, and when there, share your memories of their son/daughter and how you feel too. This may help him open up.
- Self-care. Moms are encouraged to do self-care, but dads aren’t. Some guys like massages and pedicures, others like fishing, reading, hiking, etc. Whatever gives the inner joy should be encouraged. If you have a buddy that lost a child, and your buddy LOVES fishing, book a fishing trip. Just ‘be there’ and show-up, that will mean something!
- Create space if they want to talk about their loss by starting conversations, sharing memories, and saying their child’s name.