To the dads on Father’s Day,
For the dads who have experienced infertility, or the loss of a baby or child at any gestation, age or in any circumstance, or a combination of the above. This is for you.
I am sorry that your fatherhood doesn’t look like it should and that today is not the celebration that it should be. I know that no matter how long it has been, no matter how many living children you have, and no matter the specific circumstances of your loss that today is likely to be a particularly hard day.
There are numerous versions of masculinity and what it means to be a man but from what I have seen – bereaved dads are a different sort of human. I know some of you have watched their children die, held their child’s lifeless body, carried their caskets into their funerals, registered their deaths and attended post mortem results – to name a few of the unthinkable actions that bereaved parents have to do. I know that Roy has done all of the above. Twice. On top of this, I know that some of you have watched the mother of your children suffer, in some cases so severely that she nearly lost her life too and in some devastating cases, I know some of you have lost your child and the mother of your child.
To go through any version of the above and to be expected to carry on as normal is deeply unfair and an added cruelty. I see you caring for you heartbroken, perhaps post-partum partner and putting their needs above your own. I see you returning to work or perhaps forging an entirely new career path. I see you trying to maintain some version of a social life and act, ‘normally.’ I see you supporting partners through subsequent pregnancies. I see you parenting living children after devastating loss. I see you keeping calm and carrying on all whilst feeling the worst a human can feel. I simply don’t believe that your loss, grief, and heartbreak as a dad is any less than mine as a mum. Different doesn’t have to mean more or less than it can just mean different.
Maybe you will choose to ignore Father’s day, maybe you will embrace it and celebrate your fatherhood today despite the inevitable intertwined heartache, maybe you will do some combination of the two, maybe you will see how the day unfolds, maybe you will celebrate the day with your living children whilst honouring your child or children who aren’t here. Whatever you choose to do is absolutely the right decision for you.
Whatever today looks like for you, there is a tiny little woman in Yorkshire, England who will be raising a glass to you all today. For facing what is unimaginable for most, for honouring your children, for supporting your partners, many of whom I am privileged to call my friends.