Strong is not Silent. Tears are universal. Tears are okay.
To lose a precious child is incredibly painful for both parents. Dads may feel they need to put on an outward display of strength, whereas inside they are as heartbroken as any parent, understandably, would be over the loss of a child. Dads experience the same grief as anyone else, even if they do not always express it. Society often focuses on the mother, but Dads need support too. Dads need to be able to cry, to express their feelings. Positive manhood should be celebrated.
While women are generally open with their emotions, men have often been encouraged to keep theirs bottled up. A father might feel he cannot outwardly show sadness over the loss of his child, either because of perceived societal constraints, family pressure to be ‘strong’, or the feeling that he must be there to support his partner.
Many men have been taught, from childhood, that they should not share their emotions or reach out for support. They are raised to be steadfast and dependable in times of trouble. This does not mean he is not grieving – it could mean he is struggling to express his pain in a recognisable way.
As a society, caring for the grieving father is often a neglected area, showering all support on to the mother. Yet fathers will need support too, and fathers may not wish to turn to their partners for support, due to feeling they are not allowed to add to their grief.
At Reubens Retreat, men’s mental health is important to us: we offer ‘Dads’ Club’, a dedicated support group for fathers of loss, to give dads the opportunity to talk, and the opportunity to be heard. Dads need a space that is safe and supportive – to grieve without judgement, and to heal.
“Dads club has become a very special close knit group where us dads feel safe and comfortable sharing very deep & emotional feelings about our lost children.”- Danny, Henry’s Daddy.
If you know a bereaved dad that needs our help, please share this post.