To every Dad who has ever lost. To the Dads who feel invisible.
I see you.
Let me introduce myself. I am a momma with empty arms. My husband and I lost our little girl the same day she was born. I am sitting and writing this on Father’s Day, as my husband is still asleep. I’m writing because that’s what I do now when I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know what to do for my husband today, the father of our precious baby girl. I don’t know how to help him. I don’t know how to try to take any of the weight off of his shoulders. I don’t know what he needs. I don’t know what will be anything more than a pathetic attempt to try to make this wretched day anything other than that. I am sitting here overwhelmed by absolute helplessness, not having any idea how to tell him how proud I am of him for being the best dad to our little girl; for being the best invisible dad in the whole world. Should I just say that?
I never used to associate Father’s Day with anything other than the expectation that we were supposed to celebrate our dads. It seemed like a great day. Even if you didn’t like your dad very much, maybe Father’s Day could act as some sort of means to put aside the past, and make a phone call once a year. I had a very skewed, naive, innocent opinion of Father’s Day. I had no idea the extent of the day’s cruelty, and everything I would learn to hate about it.
I’m sure you understand.
The first time my husband celebrated Father’s Day as a father, it was three weeks after we lost our baby girl. Mother’s Day, she had still been with us. Father’s Day, we would never see her again. This year is the second time we “celebrate” Father’s Day. Arms just as empty.
There is a term for moms who have lost children – loss mommas. Do they have this for dads? I’m going to refer to you as a loss dad for the remainder of this letter. Not to label you, not to be cruel, but to see you, to acknowledge you.
You see, I feel like loss dads are fairly invisible. Like the world has told you that you didn’t lose as much as she did. As if that child was somehow less yours, because you did not carry him/her. As if the love you felt for your child was less, just because you are the dad and not the mom. The woman gets the attention, is given more permission to be broken, is given more opportunity to grieve, is expected to take longer to be able to function again, is somehow expected to hurt more than you. The mother is somehow more visible, and all responsibility to take care of the mother falls on your shoulders.
So, who takes care of you?
I don’t want to make assumptions about you, your situation, or your feelings, or how you have responded to your unique walk in life. I know how frustrating that can be. I apologize if I have already done this, and please know that it is not my intention. My only intention is to say I’m sorry for this road you are on, and please know you are not invisible.
I am sorry that this day is not filled simply with pure joy for you. I am sorry that you are forever changed on the inside, no matter how you look on the outside. I am sorry that you lost your child. I am sorry for any and all feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. I am sorry that the world moves on while you are not ready. I am sorry that the world expects you to resume normality despite the fact that your new normal resembles nothing of normality. I’m sorry if it has appeared that your role has seemed less significant. I’m sorry everyone expects you to never show what you are feeling on the inside. I’m sorry if there is no one that is taking care of you. I’m sorry that there really aren’t any words that anyone could say that make any of this less horrific. I wish that someone could take all of the heaviness you carry in your heart every day, and let you live even just one day with nothing but pure joy. I’m sorry that the joy you will feel will always be accompanied by that constant, overwhelming, ever-present sense of loss. I’m sorry that I don’t know how to help you. I’m sorry that I don’t know how to make it better. I’m sorry that I can’t help you. I’m sorry that I can’t take care of you. I’m sorry that I’ll never be able to make this day perfect.
I see you. You are not invisible. You are a Dad. You are an amazing Dad. And every time you get out of bed and face the realities of your journey, you prove that you are one of the strongest human beings on the planet, as you somehow find a way to keep moving.
I’m sorry. And I see you. Even if I am really bad at acknowledging that I see you, I see you.
Happy Father’s Day. It is my hope and prayer that you enter into this day with feelings of pride and joy. That you are proud to be a Father, no matter your journey. That everything you’ve learned from your child that isn’t here with you will be enough for you to keep fighting, to keep moving forward, to keep living.
Thank you for living out one of the most difficult journeys ever faced. You are not invisible. And I am so proud of you.
A Loss Momma