Sands (stillbirth and neonatal death charity) is extending the opening hours of its Freephone Helpline - 0808 164 3332 - on the weekend of Father’s Day so that any dads affected by pregnancy or baby loss can reach out for vital emotional support.

The extended helpline opening hours are:

  • Saturday 15 June - 9.30am to 12.30pm.
  • Sunday 16 June (Father’s Day) - 9.30am to 11.30am.

The confidential helpline provides a safe place for anyone affected by the death of a baby to seek comfort and support. The charity’s experienced bereavement support team is there to listen and signpost to further help.

Father’s Day can be a particularly difficult and lonely day for fathers whose baby has died, however long ago.  Sands also recognises the impact on other male family members like grandfathers, brothers and uncles who are experiencing loss and grief.

Something as simple as sending a thoughtful card can go a long way to helping bereaved dads feel less isolated, and Sands has launched a special range of Father’s Day cards so that anyone can show their support at this difficult time of the year.

Clea Harmer, Chief Executive of Sands, said: “Bereaved parents tell us that Father’s Day can be a highly emotional day for them as they spend time with their close friends and families and remember their babies who have died. So we have responded by extending the opening hours of our Helpline at a time they may need us the most.

I would urge anyone who has been affected by the death of a baby not to suffer in silence and to get in touch if they want to talk to us on Father’s Day. We are dedicated to providing emotional support and information right from the early hours after a baby's death, through to the weeks, months and years ahead.”

Support for bereaved men on Father's Day

Father's Day and the build up to it, can be a very difficult time for all the dads whose grief around pregnancy and baby loss may not be recognised by those around them. This is one of many days that can amplify painful feelings of sadness, anger, isolation.

For dads with other children they may worry they can’t enjoy the day with them in the way they want to. 

For those whose partner suffered an early miscarriage, friends and family might not even know that it happened. That can be especially isolating if they have no other children but know that they are still a dad.

Sands has put together the following advice for bereaved dads and for anyone who knows a family member or male friend whose baby has died and wants to offer them support around Father’s Day.

For bereaved dads:

  1. Remember the build up to Father’s Day or any anniversary may feel much worse than the day itself. Think about who you can turn to for support. If you’re working, consider letting your employer know you are finding this week hard and whether you need to take some time off.
     
  2. Whether you have other children or not, whether it’s the first or the fiftieth Father’s Day after your baby died, it's important to remember you are still a dad to your baby. 
     
  3. Think about what you could do – on your own or with others – to make the Day special for you. That could include visiting a special place, looking at photos if you have them, and simply having quiet time to think about your baby.

Supporting a bereaved dad:

  1. Talk about their baby and if you know it, say their baby’s name.  Follow their lead, if they change the subject they may not want to talk about their loss but you have let them know you care. Let them know that you’re available to talk or share stories about their child.
     
  2. If you want to, you could give a thoughtful gift, or write a card that they can read when they’re ready. If they have other children give a card that celebrates that relationship and a separate one to acknowledge their baby, or simply add their baby’s name to the same card.
     
  3. On the day just being aware and sensitive, showing that you understand that it can be hard may be enough. Don’t be afraid to laugh or use humour – you’ll know if it isn’t appropriate, but it can break tension and allow someone to open up a bit.

More ways for fathers to find bereavement support

Many men are finding other practical ways to cope with their grief by playing football with other bereaved fathers. For further information on setting up a new Sands United football club or joining an existing local club visit: www.sands.org.uk/sands-united-fc

The Sands Freephone Helpline number is: 0808 164 3332. Bereaved parents and their families can also get in touch by email helpline@sands.org.uk, join the online community www.sands.community or download the free Sands bereavement support app from their app store.