Father’s Day should allow Dad to celebrate the joys of fatherhood. However, this isn’t a happy occasion for all fathers. If a father lost a child, this day could serve as a painful reminder of their loss.
It’s understandable if you’re not sure how to say Happy Father’s Day to a father who lost a child. However, depending on your relationship with them, you may feel it’s appropriate to do so.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- How to Say Happy Father’s Day to a Dad Who Experienced a Miscarriage or Stillbirth
- How to Say Happy Father’s Day to a Dad Who Lost an Infant
- How to Say Happy Father’s Day to Someone Who Lost a Child or Teenager
- How to Say Happy Father’s Day to Someone Who Lost an Adult Child
Perhaps one of your siblings passed, but you still want to let your dad know how much you love him on Father’s Day. Or, maybe your brother lost one of his children, but not all of them, and he’s joining you for a Father’s Day celebration.
The point is, there may come a time when you feel you should send a Father’s Day message to a father whose child has died. If so, these examples will help.
Here are the dates for Father's Day for the next few years:
2021: Sunday, June 20
2022: Sunday, June 19
2023: Sunday, June 18
2024: Sunday, June 16
2025: Sunday, June 15
Tip: If the father you know is sorting through the life his child left behind, our post-loss checklist can help with that process.
How to Say Happy Father’s Day to a Dad Who Experienced a Miscarriage or Stillbirth
A miscarriage or stillbirth suddenly and cruelly topples the hopes of a man eager to become a father. You can’t restore that hope, but you can help with these Father’s Day messages:
“I can’t imagine what you’ve been going through, so today, you can vent if you need to.”
Interviews with men who’ve experienced miscarriages reveal an important truth to keep in mind on Father’s Day. Because a miscarriage is such a clearly and dramatically painful experience for a woman most of the time after their partners miscarry, men feel people tend to overlook their grief, offering all their support to their partner.
They say they understand why a woman may (and even should) be the focus of people’s compassion in these situations, but they’d also like the chance to express their own feelings of sorrow. You can offer them that chance on Father’s Day.
“This must be an incredibly painful day for you. But, it’s still a day that should be about you.”
Men who’ve experienced miscarriages or lose children to stillbirths often make it clear that, while they may not have had the opportunity to raise their children, they still consider themselves to have been fathers to them.
Don’t let someone you know who’s had this experience feel others don’t see him as a dad because of what happened. Let him know you believe Father’s Day is a day to celebrate all fathers, including those like him.
“Thank you for how strong you’ve been through this.”
By the time a man is married, the person in his life most likely to offer support during painful times is often his spouse. That means if a dad lost a child as a result of a miscarriage or stillbirth, his struggle may be particularly challenging, as the mother of the lost child will likely be struggling with her own grief.
Thus, the mother could use this day as a chance to thank the father of her miscarried or stillborn child for the strength he demonstrated when they were both coping with a painful experience.
How to Say Happy Father’s Day to a Dad Who Lost an Infant
The immense joy an infant brings to a father, unfortunately, ensures an infant’s death will bring equally immense pain. On Father’s Day, you can support a dad facing this pain in the following ways:
“I’m here for anything and I’m free whenever. That’s all you need to know today.”
Grief experts who’ve interviewed dads who’ve lost children find that most fathers in this position don’t know how to spend Father’s Day.
Therefore, the support they most appreciate comes from those who are simply available. They don’t need to do anything specific, they just need to let a father know they’re around.
Ask if you can help with a relevant project
It’s not uncommon for parents who’ve lost infants (or children of any age) to reach a point where they can cope with their feelings by working on child or baby memorial ideas and projects.
You could offer to help with such a project if you honestly believe they want support from others as they complete it. Although a dad may not want this type of direct help immediately on Father’s Day, they may be thankful to hear they can turn to you for help with their memorial in the future.
Give a helpful gift
If you know a father who lost an infant well enough to know he’d appreciate a Father’s Day gift, give him something that can be genuinely helpful right now, such as a few well-reviewed books about losing a child by mental health experts or similar professionals.
How to Say Happy Father’s Day to Someone Who Lost a Child or Teenager
Wishing a Happy Father’s Day to a father who lost a child in the midst of becoming a full individual is no easy task, but these messages and ideas can help:
“Thinking of you today. I’m always here if you need to talk.”
If you have children of your own, but a friend or relative is a father who lost a child, simply acknowledging that this might not be an easy day for them (and offering your support) is often enough to help make their day just a little less painful.
“I know what you’re going through. Let’s talk this Father’s Day.”
It’s important to only say this if you know what a father who lost a child is going through because you lost one yourself.
However, if you have, you may be well aware that many fathers who’ve lost kids feel more comfortable spending Father’s Day with people who can relate to their experience. Spending it with people who can’t relate (and therefore don’t know how to properly offer comfort) is too stressful for some.
Say the child’s name
This is a general tip that applies regardless of the specific way in which you say Happy Father’s Day to a father who lost a child.
Although many people feel they should avoid mentioning the name of a child who died, experts say parents actually want to hear others say their deceased child’s name.
How to Say Happy Father’s Day to Someone Who Lost an Adult Child
The death of an adult child can be a uniquely painful experience because when it occurs, a father may be at a stage in life where their friends and relatives are also passing fairly often.
Consider helping a father in such circumstances with one of these messages:
“Don’t judge yourself for how you feel today. This must be so difficult. We’re here if you want to visit or talk, but we understand if you want to be alone.”
Therapists who work with parents who’ve lost adult children find that, for various reasons, people in their lives tend to assume the grief they feel shouldn’t be as strong as it would be if their child wasn’t yet an adult when they passed.
With that in mind, the best way to say Happy Father’s Day to a father who lost an adult child could involve letting them know you understand they have a genuine reason to feel deep pain.
“Happy Father’s Day. Why don’t we spend today talking about what you went through?”
Therapists who work with parents after the deaths of adult children also learn that many parents in these circumstances feel they have a significant lack of control over the way their lives unfold in both the immediate and long-term aftermath of their child’s death.
For instance, if their child was married, they may not be nearly as involved in making the funeral arrangements as they naturally would have been if they lost a young child. This somewhat deprives them of the chance to mourn a child in the way they see fit.
Additionally, after an adult child dies, a father’s overall lifestyle might change in ways he has little control over. This can involve no longer seeing his grandchildren as often as he once did, or losing the relationship he once had with his child’s spouse.
These are all painful experiences a father who lost an adult child may want to vent about. However, they may not have had the chance to do so. You can give them that chance on Father’s Day.
Offer to take them out
You have to exercise your judgment here, but if you get the impression that a friend who lost an adult child would most enjoy Father’s Day by doing something that lets them take their mind off of their loss, offer to spend the day with them doing something you believe would help in that capacity.
Happy Father’s Day When a Father Has Lost a Child: The Importance of Support
It’s worth noting that the right way to say Happy Father’s Day to one father who lost a child isn’t necessarily right for all fathers.
These are all messages and ideas worth keeping in mind, but you still need to deeply consider what you truly believe a particular father needs most right now when deciding which to use. Thoughtfully considering their feelings is key to offering genuine support.
- Cate, Chris. “Even after a miscarriage, I will always be my baby’s father.” Washington Post, WP Company LLC, 28 September 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2018/09/28/even-after-a-miscarriage-i-will-always-be-my-babys-father/
- Doka, Kenneth J. “Grieving the Death of an Adult Child.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, LLC, 26 October 2016, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/good-mourning/201610/grieving-the-death-adult-child
- “How to Help a Grieving Parent.” Children’s Hospital Colorado, University of Colorado School of Medicine, www.childrenscolorado.org/doctors-and-departments/departments/grief-and-loss/how-to-help-a-grieving-parent/
- Kozdial, Richelle. “Supporting Grieving Dads on Father’s Day.” Journey Through Loss of a Young Child Society, 15 June 2017, journeythroughlosscalgary.org/blog/2017/6/15/supporting-grieving-dads-on-fathers-day
- O’Neil, Anna. “How does miscarriage affect fathers? 5 men share their experience.” Aleteia, Aleteia SAS, 23 October 2018, aleteia.org/2018/10/23/how-does-miscarriage-affect-fathers-4-men-share-their-experience/