Widower: Helping A New Widower on Father’s Day

If your dad recently became a widower, there are ways you can help him on Father’s Day.

Fathers who are newly minted widowers on Father’s Day are apt to be in the throes of intense loneliness, self-doubt, and possibly caught up in regrets and self-recrimination. This can lead to self-isolation and depression if not addressed.

Their children can use Father’s Day as an excuse to insert themselves into their father’s life and provide much needed (though often resisted) love and support. Unlike a holiday such as a wedding anniversary, the new widower may not be severely impacted on Father’s Day, but the wife’s absence cannot be ignored.  Loneliness, especially at this time, can still trigger other severe emotional and physical responses which further aggravate existing symptoms.

I believe it is dead wrong for their children to avoid honoring and celebrating Father’s Day due to a sense that dear old dad needs some space. What he likely needs (though maybe loath to admit it) is some loving company, some emotional support, encouragement, and the message that “we care for you and we are here for you.”

The clueless and sometimes insensitive dad you have known in the past may well be finding his more empathetic and vulnerable side, allowing you “IN” in a way not even dreamed of in past times.

Their children, while suffering too from the loss of their mother, are likely in a better place than their father, and therefore better equipped to be the one reaching out and offering support. They are likely to find their relationship with dear old dad changing through this transition, to one of increased responsibility in many areas. On Father’s Day, that might take the form of being the one taking the lead.

So, my recommendation is that you reach out to dad and engage him during Father’s Day in a way which helps him to break out of the cycle of emotional and physical issues he may be experiencing. He will appreciate it, and you may just find your relationship with him growing in unexpected and wonderful ways.

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