Father’s Day is likely to be an emotionally charged day for anyone experiencing or who has experienced pregnancy, infant or child loss, or those who are facing infertility, or any combination of the above.
It doesn’t matter how long ago their baby or child died, the circumstances of their loss, and whether they have other living children. You don’t need to understand their pain, if it doesn’t make sense to you I am really glad. You don’t need to feel pressure to cheer them up or fix the unfixable – the best thing you can do is to simply acknowledge that their fatherhood and therefore Father’s Day doesn’t look like it should.
That is my best piece of advice, acknowledge their fatherhood and acknowledge that today might be particularly hard. If you know their child or children’s names, it is a good choice to use them. Like all parents, they likely spent a long time choosing their child’s name. Parents choose a name with the intention of it being used. I can assure you that saying or choosing their child or children’s name will not remind them that they died (they haven’t forgotten, they are ALREADY thinking of them), instead it signifies that you acknowledge their life, that they are remembered and cherished and that they matter.
A simple, “Hi, thinking of you today and xxxx” or “Hi Lenny and Bhai’s dad, think of you often but especially today, I am sorry today doesn’t look how it should”
Maybe add an invitation to an activity that they enjoy – chances are that whilst joy might be in short supply, they will still get something however small from meeting up socially. It is hard for grieving people to reach out with social invites and they might turn yours down, if they do it isn’t personal, but they also may not. I know one bereaved dad who said yes to cycling the length of NZ and two who walked 20 miles in the dark – they are still out there living life, parenting their children as new versions of themselves.
As always, it is worth messaging your friends and family members who are grieving their dads – today is hard for them too. For lots of reasons these celebratory days are not what they should be for many people.