An often overlooked side of Father’s Day is the sorrow it brings: not just for those fathers who stand at the graves of their children, but also for anyone whose own father is no longer with them. As many celebrate, there are others who quietly visit the silent, sleeping cities where love and grief unite.
Last year I was new to grief; less than 6 months had passed since Ethan died. Despite having visited countless times before, the visit to his grave on Father’s Day 2012 was surreal. As I knelt in the sun, I accepted that I could never be a father to Ethan in the normal sense. This realisation provided the spark that ignited my writing on the subjects of grief and stillbirth; that Father’s Day, Ethan gifted a sense of purpose from his death.
This year, on my second Father's Day post-Ethan, I was able to celebrate once again. Time cannot heal the wounds of child loss, but it allows acceptance to take root. Personally, time spent seeking sanctuary in the grief of others has allowed me to put my own grief into perspective.
There is an immense network of writers who share their own stories of grief; together we are all united by an unwanted bond. Together we are the parents of the stillborn, the miscarried and the children taken too soon after birth.
In a society where discussing child loss borders on the taboo, these blogs and support networks are priceless. Time spent reading these accounts has put my own grief into perspective. My own story is a personal tragedy, but in comparison to other people’s experiences, I consider myself lucky.
Despite the crown of sorrow that Death fashioned for me, I only have to look around to realise that, for now, I have been let off relatively lightly. There are many others from whom Death has plundered a greater bounty.
I consider myself lucky to have 2 of my boys with me and experience Father’s Day surrounded by the joys of my children; I am lucky enough to be able to visit my own father as I please. For these reasons, I was able to celebrate Father’s Day again.
You can read more about James and his journey following the stillbirth of his son Ethan on his blog www.fathersgrief.com