As Father’s Day is upon us, we are thinking about all fathers. Here is a recent article from the Share newsletter from bereaved father, Mike Boresi, that resonates with so many.
My wife and I lost Corynn on May 1st of 2007, six days prior to her due date. She was born into Heaven the following day. We checked into the hospital giddy with anticipation just hours after my wife heard Corynn’s heartbeat at the doctor’s office. Our world was turned upside down as we were informed that our first child had no heartbeat. That moment, and the following 24 hours, will haunt me for my remaining days.
I thought I knew what jealousy felt like before losing Corynn, but my understanding of the full potential of that word didn’t culminate until the week following her stillbirth. I had taken our dog for a walk, as I did every afternoon, and happened across three fathers coaching their girls’ softball team just a few blocks from our house. Tears immediately flowed, and I had to sit down because of the sorrow I felt in that moment. I couldn’t look away as I watched from a distance with a heavy heart and repeatedly told Corynn how much I loved and missed her. This proved to be one of the key moments of my healing process. Mother’s Day was on May 13th, a mere 12 days after we lost Corynn. I wish I could have taken away all the pain my wife was enduring that day.
I’ll never forget her asking me to wish her a “Happy Mother’s Day” because she wanted me to acknowledge that she was in fact a mother. I was purposely avoiding those three words because I dreaded the prospect of anyone wishing me a Happy Father’s Day in just one month’s time. “Happy” was the last word I would have chosen to describe my anticipation of the holiday. Although I understood her motive and desire, it caught me by surprise. That is when I first realized how differently people grieve.
Father’s Day arrived and attending my in-law’s family gathering was the best thing for me at the time, especially when I thought back to watching those three fathers coaching their girls’ softball team. Not attending would have meant I was avoiding my feelings for Corynn, and that would have tortured me throughout the entire day. Some bereaved fathers may need time alone, but I needed to continue to confront my emotions, no matter how raw. Even though I understood I was a fathers, I didn’t feel like one on that day. A part of me was missing, while everyone else had their children present and accounted for. It was the only day of the year I felt resentful and questioned God.
In hindsight, I don’t know how I managed that Father’s Day as I did. Every Father’s Day or Mother’s Day for a parent after losing their child will be different, but none will be easy. We’re not all in the same place, emotionally or spiritually. Some of our wounds are new and gaping, while others have had time to form a scar. Some of us have come to terms with our loss, while others are not on speaking terms with God. Some of us have only our Angel Babies, while others are blessed to have living children.
One of the many things I learned from my Share meetings is that we all grieve differently and heal at various rates. Many experiences are similar, but none are identical. The same rings true for Father’s Day. So, my advice is to do what feels right for you as the holiday approaches. If you need seclusion, to be alone with your thoughts, schedule some time for it. If you need the comfort of your family or friends, make sure to spend time with them. If you need an activity to serve as a distraction, plan for it. It’s your day, so do what you feel is right for your grieving and healing process.