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Father's Day Isn't Always Happy

Father's Day is no doubt a celebratory occasion for many, but it's not always a happy day. Not for the father who is missing a baby.

While men often hide the pain they endure through their experience with pregnancy and infant loss, it doesn't mean they aren't hurting.

Though in some ways it might be different, a father feels the absence of his child just as a mother does. He wants to fix it. Patch the giant hole that has been left in the tapestry of his family. But he can't. There isn't anything that can fill a hole so big.

He lives with unanswered questions. And a sense of helplessness. And a certain emptiness that is so often left unspoken.

He watches the mother of his child break and carries the shards of her broken heart, unsure what to do with them.

Maybe he wonders if his pain even matters. Maybe he doesn't feel safe showing it and discussing it. Maybe he feels more lonely than he ever thought possible. After all, men are often taught to mask their pain. To bury it. To pretend it doesn't exist.

So then, maybe this Father's Day, we start asking. Maybe we start asking bereaved fathers how they are doing. Maybe we start telling them we know this day must be hard. Maybe we start recognizing that father's grieve too. Maybe we give them space to talk, and cry, and question.

Maybe we recognize their fatherhood by acknowledging the baby they can't physically father.

Maybe on Father's Day, we tell them that they are seen and validate the unique pain of being a bereaved father.

Do you need help figuring out how to honor a bereaved father on Father's Day?

Here are five ways to let him know you care:

1. Donate to a Meaningful Organization

There are a number of organizations that serve families who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss. If you know of one that is special to the bereaved father you're supporting, make a contribution in memory of his baby who died. If you are unsure of which organizations are reputable, a few suggestions are: Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, M.E.N.D., and Star Legacy Foundation.

2. Present Him with Personalized Jewelry

A personalized piece of jewelry with his baby's name and/or memorial date allows a grieving father to wear the memory of his child, keeping his baby close to his heart. He can honor his baby daily by wearing a simple piece of jewelry.

3. Write Him a Personal Note/Sympathy Card

It might not sound like much, but taking the time to write a note that personally honors a bereaved father's experience as well as his baby means more than you know. When applicable, be sure to use his baby's name. Acknowledge the life of his child as well as the magnitude of the loss. A note with his baby's name, along with the validation of his grief is something tangible that he can hold onto. This is a small gesture that speaks volumes.

4. Add Something Meaningful to His Yard

Consider helping him create a meaningful space in his yard. Plant a tree, flowers, or another type of plant. Watching a tree grow helps mark the passing of time and allows space for a bereaved father to reflect on his loss. Adding a bench, wind chimes or a memorial stone can make his garden or yard even more special.

5. Just Say Something

It doesn't have to be elegant or long and drawn out. A simple "I'm thinking of you today" or "I know today must be hard" goes a long way. Just let him know that he is seen and that the loss of is child is not forgotten.

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