Remembering Father's Day
The United States is one of the few countries in the world that has an official day on which fathers are honored by their children. On the third Sunday in June, fathers all across the United States are given presents, treated to dinner, or otherwise made to feel special. While the origin of Father's Day is not clear – many believe it was Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington, who first proposed the idea of a "father's day" in 1909. Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart. William Smart, a Civil War veteran, was widowed when his wife (Mrs. Dodd's mother) died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington State. It was after Mrs. Dodd became an adult that she realized the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent.
The first Father's Day was then officially observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington. At about the same time in various town and cities across America, other people were beginning to also celebrate a "father's day." In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father's Day; but it wasn't until 1966, that President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as the 'official' Father's Day.
Today Father's Day has become a day to not only honor your father, but all men who act as a father figure. Stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, and adult male friends are all to be honored on Father's Day. Our hope within this holiday, as children, is that we recognize the sacrifices made for us by our parents, namely our fathers. The father or patriarch of a family is often seen as the source of strength and support through all times – both good and bad.
During present day, we have experienced an evolution of the family. No longer does the American household necessarily embody the 1950's ideal of the nuclear family system, father, mother, 2.5 kids, and a dog. Life and society have changed our perceptions of what may be deemed "necessary" for a family to exist and thrive, and with this realization we still wish to seek out the men in our lives to honor them and the many deeds that they perform. Father's Day is a time of celebration and love, but for some it can also be a time of great heartache. Father's Day can be a particularly sad day for those of us who have lost a father figure or for those fathers who have lost a child. For these reasons, Father's Day can often be a day filled with sadness and grief, rather than joy and celebration.
When child loss occurs, for some reason most of the sympathy expressed is pointed in the direction of the mother of the child. Maybe the feeling is that mothers mourn losses more or perhaps the reasoning is that fathers are the stronger parent figure. The reality is that fathers grieve the death of their child too, and they need support during this difficult and lonely time. Because men by nature are the ones who "fix" problems, fathers often look at grief as a fixable problem. A man may withhold his feelings of pain, and will instead work long hours away from home, or will think of work projects to keep his time occupied. Many men are not as social as women and do not seem to need as much social interaction as women. Therefore during these difficult times and days, many men can find it a great support to privately journal their feelings when child loss occurs. This can also be a beneficial activity for the child who is missing their father, but does not know how to express these feelings long after the initial shock and grief have passed (Hinton, 2004). What is found to be difficult for a man or child to verbalize can often be more easily expressed on paper. Journaling thoughts can be a good outlet to a person during the personal emotional adjustment of child or parent loss.
"Hands on" work is another positive way of working through grief and loss. For example, engaging in a commemorative work project may be a way of expressing feelings. A father or child may choose to do something positive such as build a special photo box or bookshelves that will hold pictures and other remembrances of the loved one who has died.
It is important to recognize that fathers and children go through emotional upheavals during the grief of a child or parent loss. Fathers may grieve differently than mothers, but a day dedicated to them can be just as emotionally heartbreaking. They might not want a lot of special treatment on Father's Day. Men are generally less apt to talk about their feelings of hurt and loss than women, but those feelings are still there and should not be ignored.
Special holidays stir up many different emotions for fathers and children, and so Father's Day, especially, can be difficult following the loss of a loved one. With help and support from family and friends, a father or child can move forward in their grief. Often what means most to a person grieving or struggling through Father's Day is simply the recognition of this emotional time. Be sensitive to the different experiences and lives of others – remember that no two families are the same and thus be sensitive to the fact that we all travel through life on different roads. On Father's Day we celebrate the important men in our lives, but we also must celebrate and be kind to each other. The outward face of family may be evolving or changing, but the love that defines family if forever. Take the time now to honor those important people in our lives – on Father's Day and every day.
Hinton, C. (2004). Helping a father through Father's Day. Retrieved April, 28, 2004, from: www.silentgrief.com
Hinton, C. (2004). Where does a father find support? Retrieved April, 28, 2004, from: www.silentgrief.com
|Home||About Us||Newsroom||Contact Us|