Friday, June 18, 2010

A different Father's Day!

Today's post is in honor of those who will spend Fathers Day without their Dad and for the Mom's who don't have their husband's here on Sunday....who have to be both Mom and Dad!  x

Father's Day is this America!  In Australia, we celebrate it on the first Sunday in September.  However, because we live in the USA for ten months of the year we recognize the holidays here too.  So my husband Peter gets two Father's Day's!

A few days ago as I stood at the stove stirring a bubbling pot of bolognese sauce, I asked Peter if he would contribute his thoughts to my blog on what his Father's Day will be like this year without our daughter.  How he will feel and what its like for him.  His answer was typical of some males grieving.  "No, I don't want to Dee," he told me.  I then asked if I could pick his brain so I could write for him. :)  He tilted his head, smiled and changed the subject.

My Dad who I love so much is the same.  He never talks about the loss of his wife, daughter or grand daughter either.  He's old school and was taught at a young age that you don't talk about your emotions or death.  It seems even though my husband and father are generations apart their opinions on grief are the same.  Just bury it and deal with's like they have been conditioned from a young age that to show emotion or tears is a sign of weakness!  To me, men who can honor their loss and show vulnerability shows strength and helps with the healing process after the death of a loved one.

For a long time, months, I would get frustrated and angry at Peter that he wouldn't share his most intimate thoughts with me about the loss of Savannah. 

            Peter and Savannah taken on the beach at Surfers Paradise just after she got sick

On many special days like Savannah's birthday he wouldn't even acknowledge it, just kiss me goodbye on his way to if it was like any other day, as I stood in the kitchen with tears pouring down my face, sobbing!  He seemed to be adjusting to life without Savannah fairly easily, leaving me feeling so alone and horribly isolated.  I wanted to witness his tears, to show some tangible evidence that he was feeling the same way as me.

I was afraid the widening gap, my obsession with how he didn't show any emotion over Savannah would swallow up our marriage....not realizing I was actually creating a gap that wouldn’t have existed, if I hadn’t been expecting him to be just like me, instead of accepting him as I knew him to be.

I have read that over seventy percent of marriages end after the loss of a child, scary statistics that made me reassess analyzing how Peter dealt in silence with the shared loss of our adored daughter.  I knew he loved her as much as I did and do. 

When Savannah was alive, every night when Peter got home, his face would light up when she would toddle, like a little doll into his arms.  Remembering those moments reminded me that just because NOW he wasn't crying and showing some sort of physical proof he was suffering the way I was, didn't mean his grief was any less....just that he had learned to hide it and ignore deal with it differently.  But you can't ignore grief, if you don't acknowledge it and wrestle your way through it, it can come back in the form of anger and bitterness, and I see this happening occasionally with other men I know who have lost a loved one.

However, I've accepted Peter's way of coping, he will always be Savannah's Daddy and will always love her and miss her as much as me.  But that doesn't mean I'll stop trying to find opportunities to allow him to let me into his mindset and help him get through the hardest thing as a married couple we will ever have to face. 

So today I bought a lovely Father's Day card from Dempsey AND Savannah.  Dempsey will write inside it, probably something funny that will make Peter smile, and she'll sign her sisters name because she isn't here to do it.

                         One of my favorite photos of Peter and Dempsey

I know that Peter will be missing his other daughter on Sunday, even if he won't outwardly express it.  And, even though Savannah won't be with Peter physically on Father's Day, we'll make it extra special for him....he will always be a dad to TWO daughters, even though only one is here to spoil him.

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