How are you dad’s doing? Father’s day is just around the corner so I thought I’d talk directly to you. Men and women are different. (Duh!) So they grieve differently. Their relationship with the child who died is different. The truth is that moms and dads are grieving different losses, even though they are grieving the death of one child. Dads are the protector and provider for the child. If the child died, nearly all dads feel a sense of failure in this primary role of protection. The death wasn’t your “fault” though you may have numerous ways you are blaming yourself for some failure. I have heard this over and over from bereaved men.
The child might also have been dad’s best friend. The child might have been the most challenging to dad’s intellect and wisdom too. But he/she still had a pull on dad’s heart, like gravity – inevitable and inescapable. Dads grieve these and so many more feelings and losses. A dad’s grief is deep and wide and consuming and heavy.
Other things I’ve learned from dads:
- The car is a great sanctuary for tears and wailing. This most often happens during the commute to or from work. Or a farmer in the cab of his tractor.
- Men do cry. But usually alone.
- Husbands really do want to solve their wife’s grief-problems. But mostly she wants to be listened to. There is a different agenda. Sometimes men use up their entire listening quota and can’t do it any longer. In this case, women, find a good BASIS group to hear your sorrow. Find a woman friend to listen.
- Projects help men process – wood working, gardening. Or large muscle activity – baseball cages (like whacking the enemy death), boxing, working out, running.
- Some dads need to make choices. One dad had a job where he had a gun. He realized that since he had a “short fuse”, as I call it, he shouldn’t have a gun. He realized he could easily come to the point of hurting himself or someone else. He was wise and courageous enough to ask his boss to make a change in his responsibilities. He took a different job in his organization where he did not carry a gun. That’s so wise. I know another dad who changed career to something that honored his son. That, too, was a good choice.
- Survival happens. One dad saw that it said in his son’s obituary in the newspaper that his son “is survived by” he and his wife. That’s how he knew he and she would, in fact, survive. And they did, also helping others along the way.
Have you ever thought about the one Dad who volunteered to this grief journey? God, our Father, planned from the beginning of eternity to send His Son to be executed because of His Love for men and women who couldn’t save themselves from futility and death because of their own sinful choices. This Father volunteered for grief – because His love for creatures was even greater than grief. Imagine.
That’s sacrificial love. In God’s word, He says you dads have the same quality:
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; Psalm 103:13
Thank you all for being such good dads to your children and good teachers for me. Blessings to you.