Father’s Day can be a highly emotional day for dads who are living with the loss of a child.
Peer-to-peer grief support network Daddys With Angels has created a safe space where grieving dads don’t have to feel ‘strong’ – and can feel supported by other people – at any time of year.
Its founder, Paul Scully-Sloan lost his 14-month-old son, Travers James, to a sudden viral infection in November 2010. He channelled his own grief by launching Daddys With Angels and an opportunity for other grieving dads to open up.
Daddys With Angels helps fathers who’ve lost a baby or child of any age to share how they feel, in an environment where they won’t feel judged. It connects grieving dads and families across the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia and many other countries around the world.
Its members are there for other parents when they need to talk about pregnancy loss, baby loss or the death of a child.
Here, members of the forum share what they would like others to know, on Father’s Day.
"No matter how short a time a child was in your life, it still hurts like hell that they are not here.”
Picture: David Zawila on Unsplash
“Remember that there are men who may no longer – or have never – held their angel in their arms, but will always hold them in their heart.
“These men are, and will always be a dad.”
Picture: Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash
“We should appreciate every moment we have with our children.
“Even though they are no longer with us, we will always be fathers to our angels.”
Picture: Andraz Lazic on Unsplash
“Life for us has been a challenge every day, since we have become angel dads.”
Picture: Eberhard Grossgasteiger on Unsplash
“You’re a dad for life!”
Picture: Bruce Hong on Unsplash
“I’m proud to call myself Joshua’s dad, and I love it when people acknowledge him at any time, not just on Father’s Day.
“So many people find it hard to talk about him, or even mention him, but I wish they would do so more often.”
“The one that buy me gifts aren’t the only ones I think of. Every day. Not just on Father’s Day.”
Picture: Abigail Keenan on Unsplash
“Even though our kids aren’t here, we are still fathers regardless.
“I just want the other angel dads to know you are cared for. If you need me, I’m here for you all.”
Picture: Dan Gold on Unsplash
“I will always be a dad, in my heart. I think of my angel in Heaven every day.
“It’s harder because Father's Day and her birthday are only a week apart.”
“Last year was the first time I actually did something for Father’s Day...the missus convinced me. I had a good day, but I still hate the day.”
Father’s Day is a reminder of what should be – and what has been taken from me.”
Picture: Markus Spiske on Unsplash
“I’m dreading it. Should've been my first as a father.
“Missus is planning a picnic at the grave. Nice idea, but dunno how I’ll be. Good luck to everyone.”
“Father’s Day is hard, but remember lads, you’re not alone.
“I seem to have avoided the build up this year but sure I’ll notice on the day. I used to do things on Father’s Day, go see him, or decorate his bed – and it helped.”
Picture: Bastien Jaillot on Unsplash
“Try not to get bound up with the commercialism of the day. Use it as an opportunity for contemplation of the value of life and how fragile it is.”
Picture: Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash
“Don’t take your kids for granted.”
“I have always hated this day. Especially after having my angel. I like what my Dad said, that it is just a made up ‘Hallmark Holiday’.”
Picture: Isaac Benhesed on Unsplash
“I celebrate the fact I am a dad to the son I lost, as well as the children I still have on this earth.
“It's welcome to hear ALL of my kid’s names.
“You cannot hurt me by mentioning Declan because my hurt is always there. It actually comforts me to hear others acknowledge him.”
- Daddys With Angels is marking June 24, 2018 as Bereaved Fathers Day. It aims for the fourth Sunday of every June to become a day dedicated to acknowledging the loss of grieving dads.