I asked the non-profit organization, Single Fathers Due to Cancer, founded by Justin Yopp and Don Rosenstein, what they felt their Dad’s needed to hear on Father’s Day. Justin suggested that father’s remember three key things.
1. “Give yourself a break.”
Justin is right on target with this encouragement. After a valiant fight for your wife’s life, try to remember to celebrate your goodness on this day. Don’t forget, you are the kind of father who knows how to be a caregiver in the most extreme circumstances.
Step back on this day and embrace your whole being; your imperfections and your strengths. Know that in order to really be a father, you will make mistakes, sometimes with as much vigor as you love your kids. That’s o.k. That’s better than o.k., because you haven’t left the game. It takes courage to stay in a game without your star pitcher. Somehow, you find that courage and enjoy, just enjoy, the rest of the players–even if they keep needing new uniforms.
2. “Listen to your children. Check in with them from time to time to gauge their emotional temperature.”
As a therapist and a parent, I marvel at the fact everyday that kids are our greatest teachers. Create rites of passage. I suggest that you ask your kids to write something to you on Father’s Day: a secret wish, an appreciation, or somewhere they would like you to take them, etc. Listening to your children from empathy and generosity help make a beautiful family life. It takes a beautiful heart to parent. After the fire of the tragedy of losing your wife has settled down, having emotional availability is vital for your children in creating stability. Life is not rational so let it surprise you. Life without expectations can in itself, bring new joy.
3. “It gets better.”
The grief process is unique to every person. But, Justin is correct. It does get better. It is the things you don’t choose to do, or show up for, that you most regret — especially when it involves your kids. Most importantly, know that you as a parent and a person, are not the sum of your worst day. Don’t forget it takes a beautiful heart to parent. So forgive yourself for all your missteps, and put this saying in your toolkit of coping skills as you transition. Remember to embrace each day in the best way you know how. You literally learn this in every minute of every hour, of every day.
Celebrations are so important to life. Have a Happy Father’s Day as you are learning to regenerate your family.If you are a grieving spouse, please email me at: Jean.firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website jeanwolfepowers.com.