Father’s Day can be a particularly difficult and lonely day for fathers whose baby has died, however long ago. This is one of many days that can amplify painful feelings of sadness, anger, isolation. It also impacts other male family members like grandfathers, brothers and uncles who are experiencing loss and grief.
Dads with other children may worry they can’t enjoy the day with them in the way they want to. Whether it’s the first or the fiftieth Father’s Day after a baby has died, it doesn’t get any easier, although other people may not realise that and initial sensitivity at their loss may fade with the passing years.
For those dads 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.
Advice for bereaved dads
- 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.
- Whether you have other children or not, it’s important to remember you are still a dad to your baby.
- Think about what you could do – on your own or with others – to make Father’s 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.
Advice on supporting a bereaved dad
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Sands Helpline is here for bereaved dads on Father’s Day
We're extending the opening hours of the Sands Freephone Helpline 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.
The Sands Freephone Helpline number is: 0808 164 3332. Bereaved parents and their families can also get in touch by email firstname.lastname@example.org, join the online community www.sands.community or download the free Sands bereavement support app from their app store.
Dedicate a message in memory of a baby on this special tree
In time for the Father’s Day, we have created a virtual memory tree where bereaved dads, grandads, family members and anyone affected by baby loss can dedicate a message in memory of a baby.
Father's Day cards
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.
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, click here.
Many men can feel overlooked when a baby dies and sometimes struggle to reach out or find ways to deal with the emotions they experience. Sands wants to make it easier for bereaved men to be able to find the right kind of support for them in the easiest possible way.
To get involved, visit www.findingyourway.org.uk