Coping with Loss

Inevitably, we are profoundly impacted for good or bad by our fathers.

One dad may not have showed demonstrable affection, but all the things that he did, by his actions, and by his behaviour, indicated that there was a strong bond. This dad was a product of his environment at the time, served in the war, had a difficult relationship with his dad at different times, and he died relatively young. But his son has nothing but respect and love for how his dad dealt with him all through his life. He was always there when he was playing sport. When he started work his son would ring him up and say, “I’m coming home.” He’d have a beer ready when he got there. He didn’t have to give hugs, but he sat down and gave me a beer. Those things, to his son, indicated that there was a terrific bond there. It was an example where you don’t have to show demonstrable affection to know there is a strong bond.

This dad died when his son was very young, at 19. He was a gentle man, didn’t say a lot, but certainly would draw a line in the sand with his son and also with people in general. One thing he always did was, when his son wanted to be more expansive and talk, he would sit down and have a conversation.

But, due to a quarrel just before his death, the relationship ended badly. That son, now a dad, advises his own children to not let things go like that. His affection and how he left has impacted that family for years later, and may go on to impact further generations. His son may take that with him because now it’s part of his life. Who’s to say it doesn’t evaporate from his life, because perhaps his son may think well, that’s not cool? For the moment however, that dad still, in an everyday sense, impacts that family.

One of the many things that working in medicine has done for me is to bring life into reality. You don’t have forever. You see kids dying of cancer and you just want to run home and hug your kids, and all of a sudden it doesn’t matter whether they’re getting good or bad grades in school, as long as they’re alive. There’ll be plenty of guys who want to have some kind of resolution for a bad relationship with their dads. But if your relationship with your dad is good you want to be able to say thank you. So do that now before it is too late.

People do pass on in life, and you’ll then regret not expressing to them how you feel. It’s a wonderful gift to give to your father, when you’re able to express your love to him. One father wrote his dad a letter about all the good things, and when his dad died he found it’d been opened many times. For anyone with difficulties, resolve them, or tell their dad what they appreciate about him, because time is inevitably short.

Tips:

Family rituals are important

A family ritual is of high importance, particularly for those families who aren't spending as much time all together as they'd hope!

Activities:

Grow a garden together

Help your child to learn about nature and plants by growing herbs, vegetables or even flowers together.