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June 2015

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Leesburg Chapter

June 2015

A Warm Welcome

Nenya & Ed Laytham, parents of Jason Laytham

Lennart G. Holmbere, father of Susan Lee Holmbere

Happy Father’s Day? My Child Has Died

It’s that time of year again, Father’s Day. It’s hard to get excited about this day if you have had a child die. For this father, this day is more about remembering the children that are no longer with me in the physical sense.

I’ll be spending this Father’s Day out on the road interviewing other grieving dads for this project. I am trying to bring some sort of awareness to the many dads that have lost children and struggle everyday to get out of bed and do something positive to honor their child that has died.

Many of the fathers I meet that have lost children feel like they let them down as a father. They should have protected them. That’s what a father does right? Protect. We are also “fixers” and we like to fix things, but we couldn’t fix the problems that were wrong with our children or the situation our children found themselves in.

Many of these dads struggle with seeing the words “Happy Father’s Day.” Seeing that statement gnaws at the already festering wound that has yet to heal, it’s a wound that never completely heals. Over time you can get through the loss of a child, but you never get beyond it. Can you eventually get back on your feet and learn to enjoy life again? Yes. Will your life ever go back to the way it was? No.

Is it possible to have a “Happy” Fathers Day after a loss of a child? Yes, but for very different reasons than most people think. The happiness comes into play when you reflect on the time you spent with your child, although you wished you had more time. You’re happy because it was an honor to be their dad. The love you feel inside for that child makes you smile and hurt at the same time. The happiness for these fathers does not come from a gift that was wrapped up real nice and given to them on this day. The happiness comes from the gift of being their dad.

If you know a dad that has experienced the death of a child, don’t be afraid to reach out to him on this day or any day for that matter. As difficult of a day it is, he would love to hear from you. Someone acknowledging that he is a dad, a dad that has experienced the death of a child.

~Kelly Farley, Father of Katie and Noah Author of “Grieving Dads, To the Brink and Back” Used with permission.

Father’s Prayer

I am a man, God, and I have been taught that I should be strong and show no weaknesses. My wife needs me to be strong; I cannot and I must not be weak and lean on her. It is only with you that I can be honest, Lord and even with you I am ashamed to admit it, but I want to cry. I can feel the tears securely dammed up behind my eyes that want to burst. There is a voice in me that shouts. BE STRONG! BE A MAN! SHOW NO WEAKNESS! SHED NO TEARS! But there is another voice inside that speaks softly and somehow I feel it is your voice, Father.

Is it you who tells me that I am also a feeling human being who can cry if I need to? Is it your voice that tells me that maybe my wife needs the tenderness of my tears more than she needs the strength of my muscles? You are right, Lord, as always. My wife needs to see my grief, she needs to feel the dampness of my tears and know the aching in my heart. Then, just as we became one to create this life, we become one in our grief which mourns this death. I think I understand now, Lord, it is in sharing the awful pain of my grief that I become an even stronger man. It is in sharing my tears that I share my true strength.

O God, help me communicate my deepest and most sensitive feelings to my wife so we may become whole together.

~Norman Hagley, TCF, Omaha, Nebraska

When Fathers Weep at Graves

I see them weep
the fathers at the stones
taking off the brave armor forced to wear in the work place clearing away the debris
with gentle fingers
inhaling the sorrow diminished by anguish
their hearts desiring
what they cannot have —
to walk hand in hand
with children no longer held —
to all the fathers who leave a part of their hearts at the stones
may breezes underneath trees of time ease their pain
as they receive healing tears ...the gift the children give.

~Alice J. Wisler

For David, in memory of our son Daniel Used with permission.