As father’s day approaches in some countries ( http://www.fathersdaycelebration.com/fathers-day-date.html) many will be making plans to celebrate with their families and other loved ones whilst a group of other fathers will be anxiously anticipating it.
For many men who have lost a child or children they will doubt whether they are a father and therefore be entitled to be considered on father’s day even if they have other children. They struggle with trying to find a balance of ‘enjoying’ the sentiment of the day and taking into account their continued feelings of grief, which may be heightened by this day.
There isn’t a right or wrong thing for an Angel dad or their family to do on father’s day and the key to ‘surviving it’ is not to judge yourself for what you do. You are bound to revisit your actions of the day and judge yourself, hindsight is there to annoy angel parents and make them feel guilty.
Father’s day for Angel dads isn’t going to be easy, especially for those who never got to meet their Angel, as they do not have any memories or photos of their child. My view is that if your loss is significant enough to have caused you to grieve their loss then consider yourself a Father. If their loss is significant enough for your family to grieve their loss then they will provide you with their support. It doesn’t really matter what other people’s view of it is, it isn’t about them. Do what you feel you need to do. If you choose not to do anything then so be it, that is your choice and no one has the right to judge you.
For those who have other children some will struggle with combining a day which is traditionally a day of celebration and the feelings they have for the child that has grown their wings. Many will feel guilty just at the thought of doing something they are supposed to enjoy. The reality is that there is space for mixed emotions, not just on father’s day; but on any day. By enjoying yourself or celebrating something doesn’t mean you have forgotten your child or you are being disrespectful to them, it means that you are able to carry on living whilst keeping their memory alive. There is room in the day to be given your new slippers and having your family around you and do something to involve your Angel.
Just last year I saw a photo where a family had set a place at their table (albeit a highchair) for their Angel, so that they were ‘involved’ in the family gathering. I saw many other follow this and lay a place for their Angel too. It was a token gesture but included their Angel. Others have asked for their Angel’s name to be included in prayers at church or in their own home and other have spent some family time, reflecting on the significance of the day, family and those who are no longer with them.
There is a theme that runs along with being an angel parents which extends itself to others too, and that is ‘you are damned if you do and you are damned if you don’t’. So you will ponder of it is right to give an Angel dad a card and or present on Fathers day . There simply isn’t a right or wrong answer to this. Yes, you will remind him that he has an Angel, but you will also remind him that his child did exist and you recognise his loss and his pain, and that you care.
Whatever you or others choose to do on Father’s day remember that an Angel dad is not just and Angel dad on that day. An angel dad doesn’t need any reminder that he has a child with wings, that’s something that will stay with them for ever. Some days will be better than others, but none as ideal as having their child with them. So spare a thought for him on those other days too.