I wanted to take a moment to write a short piece about our work, and what has been a very challenging time for everyone.

As you all know the work we carry out is fundamentally positioned to support and improve outcomes for children from separated parents, when they find themselves in the midst of family breakdown. We want to make sure that no child suffers any disadvantage, because they have separated parents; and that they have an equal opportunity through a positive co-parenting environment.

However, we also work hard at caring for those dads who suffer poor mental health as a result of family breakdown.

In 2018, in the UK and Republic of Ireland, more than 6,800 people died of suicide. Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy.

But not being okay is still widely stigmatised. And governments can still make better, more ambitious plans to prevent suicide.

How many times do we hear – “secretly battling depression”?

When we see a sign on a car that says “baby on board” or “disabled driver” – naturally we are more patient with that driver; we slow down and take care because we know there is a vulnerable person inside. Would we be so patient and attentive if that sign wasn’t there? 

Truth is we don’t know what struggles people are going through, because we don’t wear signs telling us. You never see a sign that says “I’m going through a divorce” – or “I haven’t seen my children for 2 years”, or “I’m feeling depressed” or “I’ve just been diagnosed with a terminal illness”. 

If we could I’m sure we would be kinder. 

Mental health problems are invisible illnesses. Pain, sadness, anxiety and depression do not discriminate. 

The dads we work with say their life, their dreams, cannot breathe in this their new harsh reality. Everywhere they go – all they feel is the shattered glass of their dreams cutting their feet, reminding them, constantly, of all that has been lost. 

As they talk, there is a bell that we hear. It is the sound of the human spirit ringing – full with anticipation, fear, anxiety and hope.

The home they used to share, now echoes with the deafening silence of their children’s laughter. 

They feel their absence like a draft. The smell of a once cherished teddy bear or clothing, their only reminder of a child they once held.

Their loneliness and isolation driving them deeper into despair and hopelessness.

Their cries, their midnight cries, heard by nobody. Tears left unwiped.

It is impossible to mistake the anguish and suffering in their voice. For they are broken.

We must all, therefore, make a greater effort to understand the effect of family breakdown; and hence the possibility that the person before you may be more ‘vulnerable’ as a result.

And vulnerable is precisely what they are; and in doing so we can unbreak the broken. It is worth remembering, that every parent lost to suicide, because of family breakdown is preventable; it’s not inevitable. 

Family breakdown is, and always will be, a lose/lose sum game. And seen through the eyes of a child, it is nothing less than a tragedy. The difference between what was….and what will never be.

I believe, we all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. 

We don’t want to hate and despise one another. This world has room for us all, and can provide for everyone; but perhaps we have lost our way. 

Technology that gives abundance has left us in want. 

Social media, created to bring us closer together, has left us further apart. 

Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than technology we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. 

‘Meaning comes through other people’ – it has been said.

You can choose to be caring, heroic, loving, compassionate, or even just nice. 

Be selfless, and unconditionally kind and just, without ever expecting a reward. 

None of us are going to live forever, so why not help each other through this? You see all of us can work to change a small portion of events for someone else.

So, let’s not cling to pain. Don’t expect happiness. Don’t fear loss. Accept reality as it is. Enjoy the good and endure the bad. Don’t make a big deal out of anything. 

I believe in a simple idea that we all have a stake in one another, and that what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart, and if enough people believe in the truth of that statement and more importantly act upon it, then we might not solve every problem, but we can get something meaningful done. 

Because this is who we are.

Albert Camus writes in his famous novel, ‘The Plague’ (which seems remarkably apt for the times we are in at the moment): 

“I have no idea what’s awaiting me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment I know this: there are sick people and they need curing.”

If you are having a tough time dealing with your family breakdown, then please contact us on 01233 680150 or register here:

https://support.dadsunltd.org.uk/support

Knowing the true effect of family breakdown.
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