For more than 106,000 dads across the nation, Father’s Day will be a painful remainder of the heartbreak and devastation caused by miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death.
Pete Vidins, a Volunteer Parent Supporter with Sands, talks about how Father’s Day can be a confusing and painful day for a bereaved dad.
For many dads that experience pregnancy loss and the death of a baby, life seems to ‘kick back in’ way too quickly. They are required to go back to work, keep up maintaining the family and being there for their partner and children. Their story, however, doesn’t stop. Their experience of pain, loss and grief doesn’t end just because their life has ‘gotten back to normal’.
It’s common for many dads to experience a range of feelings approaching, and on Father’s Day. Some dads pretend it doesn’t exist, or brush it under the carpet. For others, they feel a sense of anger or even despondency. The pain, emptiness and confusion is often magnified on this day.
I know this pain all too well. My firstborn son, Daniel, passed away soon after his birth. The first Father’s Day after his death was particularly hard. But even now, 10 years later, Father’s Day is bittersweet. While it’s a special day to mark being a dad to my living children, Zoe and Eli, there is still a real sense of loss that Daniel is not here to celebrate with us.
There’s no easy way around it, and there’s nothing wrong with wrestling with these feelings on Fathers’ Day or in fact any other day.
Talk to your partner.
It’s OK to say ‘no’ to the family breakfast or the football club BBQ.
There’s no right or wrong way to ‘do’ Fathers’ Day.
Chances are you’ll just want to feel safe. That may be with your partner, it may be with your wider family or friends.
Whatever it is, it’s perfectly OK to say ‘I can’t do this today.
Please also know, no matter what you are feeling, you are not alone. Miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death support group, Sands, understands the grief and confusion you may be feeling. Sands has a dedicated Men’s Support Line. Talking to other dads who have been through a similar experience can be of huge help.
Sands is a not-for-profit organisation that provides support, information and hope to parents and families who experience the death of a baby. All Sands Parent Supporters understand the heart break and devastation that follows the death of a baby as they too have experienced it. Sands also offers resources and education for healthcare professionals.
Find out more about Sands’ Men’s Support Line or to make an appointment visit www.sands.org.au.