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June 2018

Grieving Fathers on Father's Day


Men grieve too.  But many of us struggle with how to support them in their grief.  There are so many stereotypes that men are, and should be, the strong ones.  Expectations that, when grieving, men prefer not to talk about it, and instead prefer to take on projects or be given space.  We hear that men don't grieve the same.

I don't believe that.  I believe that everyone, male or female, grieves in their own way.  However, in spite of our differences, everyone wants to be heard, understood and supported.  Maybe our needs differ, but that isn't based on our gender, it's based on how were we raised, what the relationship meant to us that we are grieving and our individual personalities.  Men want to be acknowledged too, and I think there are very few days where this desire is stronger than on Father's Day when a man is grieving the death of his child.

This month we share articles written by men who are grieving on Father's Day.  We start with one man's wish for an unexpected super power following the stillbirth of his daughter.  In the second article, a father shares his experience of feeling forgotten as he encourages us all to reach out and support grieving fathers in our lives.  And we wrap up with an article from a dad who describes the four things he wish he had known when facing his first Father's Day after the stillbirth of his son.  We hope that by sharing their stories, it will help the fathers who are grieving and reading this to remember that they aren't alone in their grief.  We also hope that their stories will remind the rest of us to reach out to the grieving fathers in our lives this Father's Day. 

Fathers Day – Standing Still


By Paul de Leon
Borrowed from Still Standing

I stormed out of the door with my hands in a balled up fist. I wrinkled my face in a make-believe angry mess. I wasn’t angry, but at 6-years-old, my imagination had taught me how to fake it. Well, my imagination and my favorite television show, The Incredible Hulk.

I had just finished another episode and my adrenaline was pumping.  Normally the fact that my mother would turn my jeans into summer shorts with three or four cuts from the scissors wasn’t very appealing. I was able to get over this slight embarrassment by including the crooked cuts and dangling strings from unraveled fabric to give my impersonation of an angry Hulk even more realism.

At one time, all of us dads have wanted to be super-heroes. We have envied them since childhood, marveled at their ability to always be in the right spot and more importantly at their awesome special powers, whether it be flying, strength, web-slinging or speed. It seems like our own children instantly see a super-hero in us, or in some cases, had our child lived, would have.

It wasn’t until I became an adult, that I found a super-hero power in the most unlikely of places.  If I could literally choose a super hero attribute, I wouldn’t look to the comic pages of old. I found what I wanted in an oddly popular sitcom that aired in the nineties and now, in syndication: Saved by the Bell.

Zack Morris, a popular blonde-headed student with an unrelenting dose of charisma, had the power that I, as a grieving dad, so badly wanted. It wasn’t his ability to finagle out from the thumb of his principal at every turn, his charm to get any girl he wanted or even the fact that he could get away with wearing giant white tennis-shoes every single episode and still remain the most popular kid in school. His power – that I wanted – was that he could freeze time.

If you are not aware of the show or this power, Morris, usually at a pivotal moment that might see his devious plan to skip school or trick a student uprooted, would simply say, “Time out.” With those words, all the other actions, students and happenings on the screen would pause. He would then have time to re-evaluate the scenario. After shifting gears or making the needed adjustments, he would call time-in and the dialogue would continue among the oblivious cast.

Last March, as my stillborn daughter came into this world, I didn’t want to fly higher than a plane. I didn’t care about being faster than a speeding train. I didn’t want to be able to shoot webs out of my hands and swing through the city buildings. I simply wanted to call for a ‘time-out’. I wanted to freeze time.   Read More...
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Strong and Tender

A book especially for fathers, this is a collection of insights, helpful hints and tender thoughts to give a father strength during the dark times of grief following his baby’s death. For too long fathers have been the forgotten grievers. By giving him this special book you tell him you also recognize his loss.   Shop Here...

Grieving Dads

A collection of candid stories from grieving dads that were interviewed over a two year period. This book is a collection of survival stories by men who have survived the worst possible loss, the death of a child, and lived to tell the tale. They are real stories that pull no punches and are told with brutal honesty. Men that have shared their deepest and darkest moments. Moments that included thoughts of suicide, self-medication and homelessness. Some of these men have found their way back from the brink while others are still standing there, stuck in their pain. The core message of Grieving Dads is “you’re not alone.” It is a message that desperately needs to be delivered to grieving dads who often grieve in silence due to society’s expectations.   Shop Here...

Loss of a Child: It’s Okay to Ask for Help


by Kelly Farley

Men are often times forgotten or ignored when it comes to emotional support after the loss of a child.  As a grieving dad myself, I didn’t receive support until I, as a man/father, decided to reach out for help.  The pain, anxiety and depression had reached a point where fear and panic attacks started to occur more frequently.   I couldn’t hold the pain in for much longer and I needed to find a way to let it out.  I finally came to the point where I knew I couldn’t do this on my own and needed help.  

Once I made the conscious decision to not let myself be defined by the losses of my children, I began to open up and the law of attraction allowed compassionate people to enter my life.  I met with counselors, pastors and other angels God put in my life to help me pull out of the despair.  I found strangers who had the courage to reach out and help with no agenda.  

Women typically have this type of support from the beginning where men are often times forgotten.  Men need support as much as women, regardless of how tough and strong they look on the outside.  I considered myself pretty tough, but I couldn’t fight it alone.  As men we are always taught to be the strong one.  However, on the inside we know we are living a lie because the pain is festering.  A lot of guys find “alone time” to cry.  The pain impacts the ability to function in life, the ability to go to work and focus on your job.  Men try to push through it and try to go back to the person they were before, but that is not possible.

My mission is to let them know that it’s okay that you are not the same man as before.   Read More...

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Men, Grief, and Solitude

When men experience a loss, their first step may be to move inward into their solitude, where they can express themselves, confront what has happened, deal with feelings, and begin to sort out their next steps. Typically, this process helps them to eventually move beyond their solitude and into relationship again with the significant people in their lives. This book explores why this process may be important for men, tells stories of men coping with loss, and looks at gender difference in grief and the various doors into the core of grief. It also discusses how to be helpful to men working through loss, and how men can affirm and understand a way of grieving and healing that fits them.   Shop Here...
 
 

Swallowed By A Snake

Discover new and powerful ways to heal, how the genders differ in their healing, greater understanding between partners, examples of successful and unique healing strategies, new ways to understand your grief, and ways the individual’s loss can impact the entire family.   Shop Here...

On Those Forgotten on Father’s Day


By Andy Gillette
Borrowed from Still Standing

Father’s Day. It’s usually a day when dads can relax, laying down their burden for a moment.

For those of us who have lost a child, though, it’s a day when we pick up a burden we tend to ignore throughout the year.

You see, it’s a day when you pretty much can’t help but dwell on what you’re not doing. You’re not playing catch with your son; not drinking tea with your daughter; not laughing carefree with the other dads (at least, not genuinely). The burden is different for different guys. It might be the weight of the grief; or the guilt–often imagined–for failing to protect our sons, daughters, and wives; or, though I’m ashamed to say it, the irrational jealousy of seeing another father’s joy.

In short–and this is far from profound–Father’s Day is pretty crappy if you’ve lost a kid. I mean, every day is pretty crappy, but some have an extra punch to them—this is usually one of them.

I don’t have any special qualifications to write about this topic, other than having lived through a few of these now and being willing to share. So share I will. My hope is that, especially for the new dads out there, it will help.

If this is your first Father’s Day after losing a child, well…. Heck, I’m sorry you’re reading this. But if this is your first one, here’s what it was like for me after my son was stillborn a few days before his due date, and what is was like for some other dads I’ve talked to. Thinking back to that first one, there are four things I wish I would’ve known.

First, you ARE a dad. This is a day for you. You don’t love your child any less because he or she isn’t here.

Second, the build up is often worse than the actual day. This is true for pretty much any key day that first year: the first Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, their birthday, etc.

I remember for my first Father’s Day there was just sort of a sense of dreading that day coming up, worrying about how I’d feel or how people would treat me (or fail to treat me). I didn’t verbalize it, but looking back I thought it would be unbearable.
 
On the bright side of things, it wasn’t unbearable; it was merely terrible. Bear it I did, and so will you.   Read More...
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Heart Works, A Father's Grief

Heart Works is a beautiful, full-color coffee-table book filled with pictures and writings of the author as he travels through the grief of his daughter’s death. This book was his therapy. He pairs his own photographs with meditations on grief-related words, taking time to explore his journey. Through his experiences, we learn what grief really is.   Shop Here...

When Men Grieve

Explains how both men and their loved one can better cope with feelings of loss. Throughout the book, eleven men share their personal stories of tragedy. Each essay is followed by gentle advice on how men can learn to communicate their feelings, get beyond denial, avoid falling into addictive behaviors, and overcome their anger, bitterness, and sense of helplessness. Women can use this book to learn how to effectively respond (rather than react) to the behaviors men show during the grieving process.   Shop Here...
 

Quote of the Month

Courage isn't having the strength to go on - it is going on when you don't have strength.   Napoléon Bonaparte

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