From my own personal experience when Isaac was in the NICU and subsequently passing away, I found that there was little assistance available to a father who has a child going through a traumatic experience (or something similar). It also showed me that there was little “me time” to take care of myself as I had to be there to be the Pillar of Strength for my family to ensure that everything continued in some sense of “normality”.
I have found that the above is a common theme with fathers who are faced with prolonged periods of their child being in the NICU, sick in hospital or passing away. There is little time for them to do something for themselves or get support as they need to provide it to everyone else (particularly their wives/partners).
This has provided me with a desire to make a change in father’s lives through facilitating something that can make a difference. This is “Pillars Of Strength“.
Pillars of Strength is an Australian first initiative which aims to provide fathers with some support and time out they need while their baby is sick, or to provide some informal support after the loss of their baby. (NB it is not a counselling service but more an informal peer support network).
Since August, through the Royal North Shore hospital, the NRL, Sydney Olympic Park Golf Centre, and 2UE among others we have been operating a pilot program, assisting dads and families during this difficult time through the “Time Out” and “In hospital support” programs.
As sport has been part of the male make up for generations the Time Out Program provides Dads with the opportunity to participate in, or attend, sporting and fitness activities with mates, family members or another Dad who has experienced a similar situation. (eg going to an AFL or NRL game, having a hit of golf, going to the gym etc). This is to allow some “me” time during this difficult period. and provide dads the opportunity to reflect and more importantly time out to re energise and refocus.
In hospital support is provided in the way of accessing general financial advice provided by an accredited financial advisor, and financial assistance/support to fathers and their families in the form of parking vouchers. Other in hospital support programs are also in development to be rolled out in 2012.
We have already received some great feedback from the staff of Royal North Shore and the uptake has been pleasing in the short time the pilot has operated.
Pillars of Strength may not be the answer for everyone but it is here to help fill a massive void and through establishing the organisation, helping others and taking time out has certainly helped me deal with the loss of my son.
For further information about our programs, whether to get involved, access or to help support us so that we can expand our programs outside of Royal North Shore please go to our website.
Gary is a bereaved dad who found there was little support for men in this situation so has created a new organisation to help men facing significant family trauma.
On the 17th February Pillars of Strength is launching its Time Out program online to bereaved dads (dads who have lost a baby via stillbirth, birth complications or neonatal death in the last 2 years) and who can access activities in Sydney.
Pillars of Strength is an Australian charity which provides dads with support and time out they need while their baby is sick, and provides support and time out to dads after the loss of a baby.