“It’s almost an over-used phrase these days, but I want my children to know it really is okay not to be okay. If they feel happy and want to have fun, that’s great, but if they feel sad or anxious they don’t have to pretend otherwise.”
While she knows this Father’s Day will be poignant for her and her two children because sadly, her beloved husband Matt is no longer here to share the family occasion, Sarah Geoffrey will be making sure – as she always does – that Eloise, 12, and Dylan, 5, know it’s fine for them to express whatever emotions they are feeling inside.
Our community team cared for Matt at home before he died of cancer in 2018, and the family was supported throughout that time – as well as beyond – by our dedicated Family and Children’s Support Worker, Lisa.
Sarah said: “Being as sensitive we could, Matt and I always tried to be as open as possible with our children about his illness, but after he died it took me a while to realise that there’s no point pretending with them when I’m not feeling okay.
“With the help of St Luke’s and good friends, I’ve learned there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. There are no rules, and when I’m having a tough day, being honest with Eloise and Dylan – in age-appropriate way – is important because it teaches them that they can be real, too.
“Them missing their daddy and feeling angry and sad that he’s not here anymore is completely natural, so at the times they’re feeling that way, it’s healthy for them to express those emotions rather than suppressing them.”
Sarah’s approach then, is to play Father’s Day by ear, respecting that being different ages and personalities Eloise and Dylan often like to go about things differently.
She said: “Eloise tends to keep things low-key and doesn’t want others to feel they need to make a fuss of her because she’s lost her dad. She always lets her friends know it’s okay for them to talk about their own dads though, and her thoughtfulness towards them makes feel proud. Dylan still enjoys making a special Father’s Day card, which he now gives to his grandad – my dad – who we’ll spend time with on the day, having fun in the garden.
“While Matt won’t be with us in person, we’ll be thinking of him, his wicked sense of humour and all the happy times we shared. We’ll go through the memory boxes the children made and look at all our photos, taking our time and remembering how very special he was.”
Find out how St Luke’s can support your child through bereavement with Patches.