Coping with grief this Father’s Day No matter how much time has passed since your baby died, the lead up to special family events can be tough. When those events tie in directly to your role as parent, such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, even more complex feelings can arise as many bereaved parents reflect on what it means to be a parent to a child who is no longer alive. Although it can be tempting to put these milestone events out of mind to avoid the many painful emotions that can accompany them, giving yourself the time and mental space to think about and plan for them can go a long way to ensuring you’re able to cope as best you can when they do arrive. It can feel very lonely to be grieving when it seems like the rest of the world is celebrating. You may be thinking: ‘It’s not fair that every other dad I know can enjoy this special day with his family without this weight of sadness hanging over him.’ Or ‘How can I enjoy the day with my living children if I’m so preoccupied with thoughts of my baby who died?’ These thoughts are common, and they can be painful, but there are some things you can do to ease the stress and worry you may be feeling. Accept this is not an easy time Expect that you may feel more sensitive, irritable or out of sorts than normal and try to cut yourself some slack. It can be a good idea to simplify any outside pressures around this time. Can you take time off work? Or take a break from social activities if things feel heavy? Make a plan, or no plans Think about what you want the day to be like. Maybe you want to start a new tradition in memory of your baby. Maybe you want to busy and distracted. Or maybe you’ll want to retreat from the world. Making a plan can help you feel prepared for what the day will bring. But it’s OK, too, if those plans go out the window. Tell others how you’re feeling You don’t have to announce your grief to the whole world but letting those close to you know how you’re feeling means they can support you at this difficult time, even if it’s just that they let you lie low. Ask for support If you’re feeling alone, unsupported or misunderstood in your grief, or you would simply like to talk to someone who knows exactly what you’re going through, Sands parent supporters are always available to listen. We have a dedicated men’s support service, too, where you can chat bereaved dad to bereaved dad. Find out about Sands’ Men’s Support Service Finally: It’s OK to feel OK You don’t need to feel guilty if you find yourself feeling unexpectedly content or happy on Father’s Day. It doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten about your baby who died, or that you’re ‘over’ your grief for them. Conflicting feelings can, and often do, exist side-by-side. From everyone at Sands we wish you a peaceful and love-filled Father’s Day.