A letter to a bereaved Dad on International Bereaved Fathers Day. I see you.

Published on: 26/08/2018

It’s International Bereaved Fathers Day today. Whilst this is written from someone’s personal perspective, we hope that parts resonate with others too.

I saw the bottom fall out of your world on the day that we were told those dreadful words.
I saw you try to hold it together for me and wish you could take over with your own body what we were told had to be done.
I heard later how you’d gone to make those phone calls. I didn’t see that, as you’d made sure I didn’t have that burden to bear.
I saw you by my side for all those painful hours, going through what must be done together with the fear of what would be.
I saw your proud face when she was born and how you looked with such deep love and amazement as you held your daughter in your arms and kissed her chubby little cheek, totally in awe of how perfect she was.
I saw you managing everyone who’d come to the hospital to offer support in the best way that you knew I could cope with.
I saw you deeply struggle with having to say it was time to say goodbye and leave the hospital, back to our house full of new baby things we couldn’t use.

I watched you carry our daughter’s small white coffin into the church. I saw you stand in front of everyone and talk about our precious 9 months with our little girl and how much she meant to us.
I saw that one time you allowed yourself to properly break down in front of me. I know there have been others, but that’s the only time you’ve let me see.

I saw you go back to work after only a short time off.
I saw you listening to me for hours each evening, for months on end talk obsessively about our daughter, what should be, what we had lost and question if we would ever have the family we longed for. So wrapped up in my own grief at the time, I only later understood how hard it must have been to have had to go to work each day and put on a normal face, have normal conversations, do normal things and then come home to our broken world. How you kept that up with the pressure, I will never know, although I saw the physical aches and pains that came out with the stress of it for you due to the fact there was no other release.
I saw you supporting and being there for every whim of what I needed to do to release my grief, even though it meant changing pretty much everything we were used to in our previous life.

Somehow we made it through the years of that part. I know not everyone does and when you think about it and the differences we faced, it’s totally understandable as to why.

I see you including our daughter in all of my cards on special dates. I see you treasuring and cherishing her little brothers and how often you wonder what she would be doing now. I see you making sure that I am okay before you let yourself have any moments. I see you trying to talk sometimes, but struggling and being quiet and thoughtful instead. Okay, admittedly I don’t always see that! But you do now at least briefly tell me when I worry so that I know why you are so quiet.
I saw you jump out of an aeroplane in our daughter’s memory on her birthday when you are so scared of heights that even a ladder makes you tremble. I could not have been prouder of you.

I want you to know that I see you. Whilst the focus is often on mums, I am grateful that there is this awareness day that enables me to think of properly and tell you all of this, as it’s easily presumed that you already know. Thank you for all that you do and thinking of all the the dads missing a little one on International Bereaved Father’s Day.