There are plenty of emotional stumbling blocks you’ll encounter as you work through the difficult times after you’ve lost a baby to miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death, or any other pregnancy loss. One day you can be coping well, feeling like life might actually go back to "normal." The next day, you might have a well-meaning friend who hasn’t heard the news ask how far along your partner is in her pregnancy and the loss will be fresh again.
One event you might not have prepared for is Fathers’ Day. Starting in May, stores tend to fill up with gift ideas for Dad, cards, and endless reminders of the approaching date. So how do you deal?
If You’re the Private Type…
- Feel free to ignore the holiday. Just remember that your friends and family may not be on the same page, so be straight with those close to you that you’d rather just let the day pass.
- Focus on the dads in your life, like your own Father, your brothers, or brothers-in-law.
- Make plans for the holiday to do something you enjoy. A trip to the ballpark, or doing a project in the yard you’ve been meaning to tackle might be just the distraction you need.
- Just be mentally prepared that the day might be hard on you, or your partner, and give yourself a break if you need some time to grieve.
If You’re More Publicly Oriented…
- Have a special meal with your partner and other family members. Share your thoughts about and experiences with your baby.
- If you’ve joined a support group, organize an event for the members. Anything from an informal backyard barbecue to a more dedicated remembrance event like a walk and balloon release could be therapeutic for everyone.
- Choose a Father’s Day card and write a message to your baby. After all, it’s your baby who made you a father, right?
- Volunteer in your baby’s name. Serve a meal at a soup kitchen, help out an animal shelter, or spend some time building a house for a family in need. No matter how you decide to spend your time, helping others can really give you a sense of purpose.
If You Have Other Children…
- No matter how fresh your grief may feel, remember your kids might be coping differently. They might need the chance to recognize Father’s Day like they usually do. Be sensitive to their needs, but don’t be afraid to be honest with them if you get emotional.
- Get the kids involved if you decide to volunteer for the day, or with any activity you plan for the day.
- This could be a great time for the whole family to get into a special activity to honor your baby’s memory. Plant a tree, visit your baby’s grave at the cemetery, or fly a special kite that reminds you of your baby.
- Your partner might be feeling stressed by the holiday, too. Keep communicating with each other, and do the best you can to support each other on this and every day.