The next time you think you have it bad, think about a child who has lost their Dad. That’s right, as Father’s Day approaches there are people all around the country not happy to celebrate this day. I have talked to many adults over the last 8 years who lost their fathers young. I am intrigued by their sharing. Why? Because they help me know what my own children could be feeling. I lost my partner Jon when I was 34 years old. I know my own feelings. I have watched how my children process things as they get older. I can infer how they feel, but my Dad is still alive so I don’t truly know what it is like for them to not have their father.
I do however get to deal with their range of emotions on any given day, by any possible trigger. Recently, my seven year old son nonchalantly told his Dad after school “Today I could write about a special person, and I chose you. You’ll get to see it soon.” Hours later after his (2nd) Dad left for a meeting, I got the anger and confusion from this school assignment. I got the “you know I could pick my favorite person to write about today and I didn’t choose you. And of course I didn’t choose Dad Jon. (Biological father) I chose Dad Tom. Now anger coming out, he continues “Fathers are supposed to raise their children and be there for them, Dad Jon didn’t raise me and he is not here for me!” Yelling, tears, and anger came next. He tried shutting the door on me as he went in the house. He headed for the living room, hid under a blanket and continued yelling and crying. I think to myself, this sucks, but good baby boy let it out. He was so angry with me. Angry and saying I caused the car accident. Angry at me for “getting another husband and you were probably happy Dad Jon died”. That stung, because in these 8 years of raising my boys without their bio dad a lot has happened. But I always put them first. I didn’t cause that accident, I was home sleeping with my 3 year old son. I wasn’t even in the car. But my youngest son didn‘t know this detail maybe or he didn’t remember it……after all he wasn’t born yet. My second son was born six months after his father died in the accident.
His older brother was only three years old when Daddy died. I do know that a child’s sense of security is taken when their father dies. Anxiety can be a result of this loss. Other challenges for children who lost a father can be: feeling alone, depressed, wishing they could go to heaven to visit their Dad, being angry with their Mom because she isn’t a Dad no matter how hard she tries. But most of all kids just want to be like other kids and have a complete family, both of their parents.
I also know that although I raise two sons who lost their father, their circumstance are very different and therefore their grief and loss is unique to them. One son wishes his biological father never died and he still had his best friend. He wishes he could remember him but his memories have faded. My younger son seems to long for the father he never met, the one he is not in any pictures with. He wishes he had any memories with him at all. At his tender age of seven he is processing his loss in a different way, trying to make sense of it. Both, circumstances are so difficult, but I have faith they will be okay. Their loss is woven into who they are. It’s a part of them.
For the now adults that lost their father much too soon, I send love to you. I hope you got a wonderful male role model in your life. If you didn’t I hope you become a wonderful role model to a child that could really use one. My sons are blessed they did get a man that came along and needed a family. He needed us just as much as we needed him. I do believe God and Johnny sent Tom directly to us. For that I will be eternally grateful. To all the Moms out there being both parents, keep your chin up, smile…. you are beautiful and keep proving to your children what a true Warrior is, a fighter who never gives up. To all the Dads out there being both parents Happy Father’s Day, hug your kids and be assured your wife is smiling down on you and your family.
Written by Julie Brennan