Supporting Fathers of Loss
On Father's Day this Sunday, the 4th of September in Australia, families and friends may raise a glass in celebration of dads, show their appreciation by making him breakfast in bed or go big on a new set of barbecue tools for 'the 'ol man'.
But some dads will find themselves alone on Father’s Day. Struggling with separation or divorce. Not in the picture of family life.
Other’s will be grieving the loss of a baby or child, and facing on-going heartbreak whether that loss was recent or occurred years ago.
The Fathers of Loss website developed by Red Nose offers 24/7 support for grieving dads and a series of short videos from dads who have lost a baby or child.
Nine men explain the circumstances around losing their infants and they share how the loss made them feel.
“I felt like my world had collapsed,” says Tim, father of Phoebe, still born at 39 weeks. “And the future that was so positive had disappeared in one fell swoop.”
“You feel like the whole world has ended,” says Michael, father of Hope, who passed away from SIDS in 2020. “All the happiness is sucked out of your life, you sort of wonder why the trees are still swaying, the birds are still singing because that doesn’t make sense… everything felt extremely bleak, confusing, overwhelming.”
The men talk about how they feel now, and acknowledge that the saddness continues many years later. Craig, dad of Sarah, says grief is different for everyone and there’s no right and wrong way of “doing grief”. He says he would have liked to stay in the experience and to have had more downtime with the family and less “organising time”.
Tim advises other dads to be selfish, “allow yourself the time to grieve. Of course, you want to be strong for your family but allow others to shoulder some of that responsibility.”
The website gives dads 24/7 support and many other resources including information about peer support groups across Australia and a articles to support parents through grief, and to help those who are supporting parents facing loss. There is also a section for professionals helping bereaved parents.