In our counselling team, it is Karen’s role to support parents who are supporting a grieving child. We asked her if she had any advice in advance of Father’s Day. Here is what she said,

‘Losing a father can be an incredibly challenging and emotional experience for a child, and Father’s Day can amplify those feelings of grief and loss. If you’re looking to support a child who is grieving their Dad on Father’s Day, here are some suggestions:

Acknowledge their feelings: Let the child know that their feelings are valid and that it’s okay to feel sad, angry, or any other emotions they may be experiencing. Encourage open communication and create a safe space for them to express their emotions without judgment.

Listen and be present: Take the time to actively listen to the child when they want to talk about their Dad or share memories. Be fully present and offer your undivided attention, allowing them to express their thoughts and feelings without interruption.

Respect their coping mechanisms: Understand that different children grieve in different ways. Some may want to talk about their Dad, while others may prefer to keep their thoughts to themselves. Respect their coping mechanisms and provide support accordingly. Let them know you’re there for them whenever they’re ready to talk.

Create new traditions: Suggest creating new traditions or rituals to honour the child’s Dad on Father’s Day. This could involve activities such as visiting his grave, lighting a candle, writing letters or drawing pictures to remember him, or engaging in activities he enjoyed. Every year Edward’s Trust launches a Virtual Kite Race on Father’s Day. You might like to think about buying a Kite in his memory. These gestures can provide comfort and a sense of connection.

Provide distractions if needed: For some children, distracting activities can help alleviate the sadness and focus their attention elsewhere on Father’s Day. Offer to spend time with them engaging in activities they enjoy, such as playing games, watching movies, going for a walk, or doing crafts.

Include their dad in conversations and memories: Remembering and talking about the child’s dad can be comforting. Share your own memories or stories if you knew him, or encourage other family members and friends to do the same. This helps keep his memory alive and lets the child know that their Dad is still cherished.

Seek professional help if necessary: Grief can be a complex and individual process, and some children may benefit from professional support from Edward’s Trust. If you notice signs of prolonged distress or significant behavioural changes, consider seeking professional support. You can always give us a call to ask for some advice.

Remember, everyone grieves differently, so it’s essential to tailor your support to the child’s unique needs. By being understanding, patient, and offering a listening ear, you can make a positive difference in a grieving child’s life on Father’s Day and beyond.’