Date published: 17 June 2015 by Anna Jackson
Father’s Day is a special date in the diary, with children often making their dads handcrafted gifts - true momentum’s of the love a child has for their father. Dads eagerly await the invite from their children to their favourite restaurant where they can sit proudly at the head of the table donning the badge of honour – “Best Dad in the World” - pinned proudly to their chest.
But for some fathers, this will not be the case. Some will be caring for their life threatened or terminally ill child or grieving the loss of their precious son or daughter. As a Rainbow Trust Family Support Worker, I often feel true admiration for the strength, determination and love shown by the fathers of the families I support. One minute they are regarded as an ‘average’ family but following such devastating diagnosis, are anything but average. They are thrust into a world of uncertainty, spending days or months in hospital, surrounded by endless medication and constant worry.
It is extremely hard for fathers to watch their child deteriorate in front of them, beyond their control, dealing with the fact they are powerless to protect them from their illness. They endure sleepless nights, questioning life and the fact no father should outlive their child. Not too long ago, two of the fathers I support experienced bereavement, one lost his son to cancer and the other lost his best friend tragically while supporting his child who has a life threatening condition. Knowing both fathers well, I arranged for each, on separate occasions, to join me for a day hilltop hiking. Both welcomed this warmly and found it extremely therapeutic - it allowed them to talk about their feelings without the confines of a room, enjoying the open air, fields and breath-taking views.
For some dads, a trip in the car somewhere out of the home for a coffee comes as a great relief. So many may lose their social networks so having someone like a Family Support Worker can really help boost their confidence and social interaction.
Fathers often become the invisible member of the family in these situations. Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity supports families and dads who have a child with a life threatening or terminal illness from diagnosis through treatment and beyond and for as long as they need us. Help us provide them with the much needed support they deserve.