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The Bennett family
Anam Cara

Dealing with grief on Father's Day: 'We won't mourn the loss of Adam, but we’ll celebrate everything he gave us'

Father’s Day can be a tough day for those who have lost a child or a father.

IT’S FATHER’S DAY, and today is usually looked upon as a day of happiness, a day to appreciate your loved ones.

However, that’s not always the case for everyone. Today can be a difficult milestone for thousands of fathers in Ireland who have lost a child or for people who have lost their fathers.

Benji Bennett experienced the loss of his four-year-old son Adam in 2007, but he told that he has learned over the years to channel his grief into a positive energy and has been able to turn Father’s Day into a happy day.

He told us:

For me, it’s like a switch in your brain. It’s that we’re not going to mourn the loss of Adam, but we’re going to celebrate everything he gave us. We’re going to celebrate those years and precious moments that we had.

Adam fell ill one Friday evening while the family were on holiday in Brittas Bay in Wicklow in 2007, and he began experiencing headaches. By the Monday morning, his condition had deteriorated and Bennett made the decision to take him to Tallaght Hospital.

Within an hour of arriving at the hospital, Adam had gone into a spasm and collapsed. A subsequent brain scan revealed he had a brain tumour that had bled a few days previous.

“They operated on him and a few hours later he was gone. From running around in a field to being gone over the weekend. It was pretty shocking and sudden,” Bennett said.

The Bennett family had two other sons when Adam passed away. To help deal with the grieving process, they made the decision to try for another baby. They now have a four-year-old daughter named Molly.

“After we lost Adam, we didn’t know what to do. We just felt we needed to try to take back something that was taken from us. It was never trying to replace Adam, but it was about helping our family and bringing our family back together again,” he said.

We always say that Molly met him along the way. When he was going up, she was on her way down to mind us.

Adam Bennett Adam Bennett

Dealing with Father’s Day

This is Bennett’s eleventh Father’s Day without Adam, and he has explained how he now deals with the day.

“It’s a funny thing. I try not to get too sentimental about these things. I try not to dwell on [Adam] because we had Adam’s birthday last week and it’s his anniversary in August,” he said.

Bennett said that he has made a decision through the years to turn Father’s Day into a happy day.

He’s never out of my mind, of course, but I try not to get anyway melancholy or ‘I’m a dad and Adam’s not here’ because I have three other wonderful children.

“We would all be thinking of Adam but we don’t make this day about us missing Adam, we make it about a family day and that’s how we do it.”

Speaking of how he managed to turn his grief into a positive frame of mind, Bennet said:

“For me, it’s like a switch in your brain. With grief, in my own experience, is that we made a decision to flick the positive switch on. Grief can be quite a spiritual, positive, beautiful, painful, wonderful journey that you will go on.

When I say we flicked a switch in our brain, it’s that we’re not going to mourn the loss of Adam, but we’re going to celebrate everything he gave us. We’re going to celebrate those years and precious moments that we had.

Of course, not all fathers who have lost a child will be in a like-minded positive mindset.

Bennett shared some words of advice.

“I’m going to remember him, I’m going to talk about him, I’m going to smile about him when I think of him. For me, the advice is to try to celebrate them,” he said.

Bennett turned to Anam Cara, a parent bereavement organisation, in his time of need.

“Anam Cara can help because you can either go and listen to somebody talking about their experiences or you can talk yourself,” Bennett said.

“Talk and listen. Try to make it positive. Don’t brush it away or under the carpet. I want to tell the whole world about Adam, so if anybody will listen I’ll tell them. That’s the beauty of what Anam Cara does, you’re allowed to talk and you’re allowed to listen.”

Rounding off his chat with, Bennett offered one final piece of advice.

The pain eases, but the love for them never ends. You will always think about them and it’s always quite special, but it does get easier.
You can live and operate as a human being, as a husband, as a family again. It just takes time and you have to work at it.

Following Adam’s death, Benji Bennett wrote and published a series of children’s books, inspired by his child’s life – Adam’s Cloud.

Anam Cara has again launched its #Daddyandme awareness campaign this week to offer a chance for those who have experienced a loss to share their special photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

People can text REMEMBER to 50300 to donate €2 to Anam Cara’s cause. 

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