Select Page



The loss of a father can make this time of year especially painful for kids when other children are creating special Father’s Day cards and making plans for dad’s special day. Children whose fathers have died can feel left out and alone. For adults who have experienced the loss of a parent when they were children, they know (and remember) this feeling all too well.

Hospice of Santa Barbara has a very special program that was started by former Executive Director Gail Rink that helps to remedy some of the pain felt by children who have lost a parent.

Rink’s vision sprang from one simple yet profound question from a young boy, who had lost his mother, asking her, “Will I ever feel normal again?”

The “I Have a Friend” program matches a trained adult volunteer who has experienced the death of a parent at a young age with a child coping with a similar loss in his or her life. Mentors help a child heal, thrive and feel more “normal.” By ensuring that a grieving child is given a companion for the journey — one who truly understands the incredible loss and obstacles that will be encountered in the years ahead — the program helps children suffering the loss of a parent realize they are not alone.

Father’s Day can also be extremely difficult for fathers who have lost a child. Based on societal stereotypes on masculinity that still permeate our culture, managing grief can be challenging. Men experience no less grief than women but deal with it differently.

While society may be changing in this regard for the better, there is still the idea out there that “big boys don’t cry” or should not appear too sensitive or “weak.” This leads many men to try to avoid the grief process all together. They may feel that it is their role to be strong and “hold it together” for the family. The consequences of this “lack of processing” of grief by a father who has lost a child can be very destructive and include anger, violence, depression, silence, secrecy and addiction.

Hospice of Santa Barbara offers a number of free services, including support groups for fathers/parents who have lost a child and individual counseling.

For information about all of our no-cost services or if you or someone you know is interested in becoming a mentor or know a child who may benefit from one, contact us at 805.564.8820.

From all of us at Hospice of Santa Barbara, we wish you an enjoyable and “healthy” Father’s Day.

— David Selberg is CEO and president of Hospice of Santa Barbara. Hospice of Santa Barbara hosts a free Community Five Wishes Workshop on the third Thursday of each month, and will mail the Five Wishes document at no cost. For more information, call 805.563.8820 or click here.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This