By Clara Hinton —
I only remember two times in my life that I saw my father cry: the day he realized all of his hair was falling out at age 30, and the day my 13-year-old sister died. The sight of seeing my father slumped over on the footstool sobbing with his face in his hands after my sister’s death has remained with me for over 50 years now. The day she died, part of my father died, too.
Because my sister died on June 5, Father’s Day was only a few days away, and I was worried about what to do or say to my dad on that first Father’s Day. I didn’t want to hurt him more, and there were no instruction manuals or books of etiquette to help. So, I did what comes most natural to all of us. I followed my heart.
My dad was never, ever a talker. You might as well talk to a brick wall. So, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to speak openly to him about Father’s Day, yet I wanted so badly to convey to him how much he was loved. Instead of buying a card at the store along with some candy, I decided I would surprise him by getting up very early on Father’s Day to get as much of the farm work completed for him as I could. Wrong. He was already up, had the work finished, and was sitting at the kitchen table alone by the time I got up to help.
What would I do?? What could I do to help him on this day? How could I show him that I loved him? Without speaking any words, I fixed my bowl of oatmeal and sat down next to my dad. Neither one of us said anything. We ate breakfast in silence.
I remember taking little quick glances at him very awkwardly, and then it happened. Our eyes locked, and I saw the pain. I saw that empty, hollow look of pain in his eyes, and I clearly remember touching the sleeve of his old barn shirt. We sat there saying nothing, and it was in that silence that I learned the greatest lesson of all about how to help a grieving father get through Father’s Day.
Grieving fathers don’t need gifts or expensive meals or big fusses. All they really need is someone to be there in the silence. It’s that simple, yet that profound. Be there. By our presence we can speak more words of love than can ever be found in any book or card. Just be there. No talking is necessary, only a locking of eyes that tenderly speaks the words, “I love you” without your lips ever moving.
Fathers need to feel needed more than anything else in this world, and they especially need to feel needed on Father’s Day.
If you’re wondering this year what to do for a father on Father’s Day who has gone through the indescribable pain of losing a child, may I suggest that you do as I did for my father? Go to that father and pay a visit. Spend some time together on the front porch. Take a walk in the garage and see what’s going on there. Or, pour a cup of coffee and sit in the stillness and quiet alongside one another.
Fathers need to know that they are still special. When you pull up a chair and sit beside him, you are saying, “I care. I’m here. You’re important. And, I need you in my life.” Help a father who is experiencing heart-grief from child loss this year by just being there!
Clara Hinton has a burning passion to lend support to parents grieving the loss of a child. At the age of 15, Clara’s 13-year-old sister died tragically, and that loss began a series of events in her life that made grief all-too-real.
While experiencing the blessing of living children, Clara has also felt the pain of losing six children due to miscarriage, and has delivered one stillborn son. Knowing the grief of child loss first-hand prompted Clara to write a book, Silent Grief, as well as begin a grief support website, www.silentgrief.com, for parents seeking support while going through the pain of loss.Tags: grief, hope