At a time when children and families are preparing to celebrate with their Dads this Sunday – for those children who have experienced the death of a father this day takes on an entirely different meaning. Father's Day can be an incredibly difficult time for bereaved children but it also can be a day when they can 'celebrate' the relationship they had with their Dad and share lots of positive memories together as a family. For those young people whose father died when they were very young it is also an important time to talk to relations and friends about their father and learn more about them.Luke says:
"My Dad died when I was 14. He was ill for a long time but I still remember when we played football together on the Rec. He was a midfielder like me and he always came to my matches before he got ill. I remember him all the time but on Father's Day it really does hurt particularly when you see others with their Dad's out for a meal or doing something together. On Father's Day I like to look at the photos of us together and remember those times when we had such a lot of fun together – it's sad but also good to do."
For some children it might be tempting to ignore the day and just see it as 'a day to get through' while it appears like the whole world is celebrating with their fathers. However, for those children it can offer a great opportunity to reflect, revisit special memories and talk about their loved one.
Olivia (8 yrs)
"The year after Daddy died my teacher asked me if I wanted to do something
else when the others were making Father's Day cards. I said no I wanted to
make a Father's Day card too, he is my Dad and I want to make something special for
him. We took it down to my Daddy's special place and I left it there with some
flowers. Mum, my sister and I sat and had a picnic and it was nice talking
about our memories of Dad."
As a society we find it very hard to talk about death and this can make it difficult for children who need to have their loss acknowledged and often find talking about their memories comforting. An adult's reluctance to talk about the death will prevent children asking the questions they need to know so don't avoid the subject and be guided by a child's responses. All children grieve differently don't assume a child who is quiet is managing their grief well, or a child who is outwardly happy is not struggling inside.
This Father's Day acknowledge the day – that it might be hard, but it can also be a day that is an opportunity to celebrate the life of their Dad. Ask a child what they want to do on this Day how they would like to mark the day and be led by them.
Some ideas might be:-
• Make a Father's Day card to put in a special place (memory box, graveyard, mantelpiece).
• Watch a family film or Dad's favourite film
• Visit the graveyard or special place
• Play football or another sport enjoyed by Dad
• Ask friends and family to share some new memories
• Cook his favourite meal
• Revisit a day-out you experienced previously with Dad
• Look through family photos
• Create an online memorial website – www.muchloved.com
"Every Father's Day my brother and I always end up talking about Dad's bad jokes and
and this makes us laugh. I find Father's Days better a bit now as I like to think
of the happy things we did and that helps. I still feel sad and wish that he was here
Every child's grief journey will be different and will continue to change over time. Remember it's ok for children to be happy and it's ok for them to feel sad this Father's Day. We just need to be there for them at their own pace and help them mark this Day in their own way.