Father’s Day: The Many Aspects of Loss

The Open to Hope show’s Father’s Day special provides a number of tools for handling one of the most difficult days of the year. Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley welcome guests Neil Chethik (Executive Editor for the Open to Hope Foundation and author of Father Loss: How Sons of All Ages Come to Terms with the Deaths of Their Dads), Jenny Wheeler (author of Weird is Normal: When Teenagers Grieve), and Mitch Carmody (author of Letters to My Son, Turning Loss to Legacy). There are many complicated matters in father loss, explains Chethik. The younger the child, the greater the loss feels.

If a relationship was strained while the father was alive, the grieving can become more complex. The type of death also influences grieving. For example, death by suicide can lead to extremely challenging bereavement periods. If your father passes before you tell him everything you want to, as the bereaved you can feel stuck with all the baggage. “Maybe I should have said that,” is a common mantra. The most important thing you can do to prep for a father’s death is to bring the relationship to completion.

Leave Nothing Unsaid

When a father dies at a young age, a son can grieve the future they were expected to have. “I’m proud of you,” “You’re a good kid” and “I love you” are common phrases sons wish their father had said (or said more often). The father-son relationship can be a strained one, and many times the son needs to reach out first (even if that doesn’t seem “fair”).

 

Dr. Heidi Horsley points out that there’s a false idea that if you have an estranged relationship with someone, you don’t grieve hard for them. Sometimes the opposite is true.

 

Neil Chethik

More Articles Written by Neil

Neil Chethik is an author, speaker and expert specializing in men's lives and family issues. He is the author of two acclaimed books: VoiceMale: What Husbands Really Think About Their Marriages, Their Wives, Sex, Housework and Commitment (Simon & Schuster 2006), and FatherLoss: How Sons of All Ages Come To Terms With the Deaths of Their Dads (Hyperion 2001). Previously, Neil was a staff reporter for the Tallahassee Democrat and San Jose Mercury News, and writer of VoiceMale, the first syndicated column on men's personal lives. His writings have appeared in hundreds of print and web publications. He is currently Writer-in-Residence at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington, Ky., where he lives with his wife, Kelly Flood, and son, Evan. Reach Neil at: Neil@NeilChethik.com 121 Arcadia Park Lexington Ky. 40503 859-361-1659 Neil appeared on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” with Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley to discuss “Men and Loss.” To hear Neil being interviewed on this show, click on the following link: www.voiceamericapd.com/health/010157/horsley121307.mp3

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