Finding solace in hard times
Three Robs show us three ways
The New Fatherhood is an open and honest conversation about modern fatherhood, with a bunch of dads figuring it out as we go. Here's a bit more information if you're new here. You are one of the 5,678 dads (and curious non-dads) signed up. If you've been forwarded this by someone else, why not get your own?
Fesshole is a Twitter account promising a place to “confess your sins anonymously in the hope that the internet will absolve you.” It was created by Rob Manuel, a name that might be familiar if you’ve been on the internet for as long as I have. Rob was the co-founder of b3ta, a website and newsletter that was an proto-Reddit, or a kinder, tea-infused British 4Chan.
Anyone can submit a confession. Fesshole posts the best ones. They vary from heartwarming to hilarious, with just plain odd thrown in too. And occasionally something cuts through, hitting you right in the gut.
I was not ready for the replies: interconnected oceans of pain, one vulnerable moment stirring other men to share theirs.
Grief is an emotion we’ll all have to face throughout lives. But this grief? I can’t even begin to comprehend. “No parent should have to bury their child,” was memorably uttered in The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers. It carries weight because it rails against this unnatural order of events.
Last week I shared this essay from writer and comedian Rob Delaney, an excerpt from his upcoming memoir “A Heart That Works,” another father baring all after the loss of a child.
“Henry’s first hairs fell out and he was bald again, and I would hold his head and kiss it and feel the warmth of it. It was such a pleasure to do that. When he grew hair after the chemo, we didn’t cut it and, oh my God, it was so beautiful. I loved to put my fingers through it and comb it behind his ear and just … I get mad when I think about how beautiful he was. His hair, his face, his eyes that were such a bright blue. It makes me angry that people won’t get to look at them. Those eyes were two of the most glorious things I’ve ever seen and it offends me that they’re not there for people to gaze into.”
Grief is yet another item on the long list of “things men don’t talk about.” Creative solutions are required, with brave men stepping up to fill the void. One such initiative is Sands United FC, created by Rob Allenafter losing his daughter Niamh at 39 weeks. Rob wondered why his bereavement support group contained such a gender misbalance: 23 women and only two other men. He organised a one-off football match that raised £6,000 for the UK’s leading baby loss charity Sands, and was then inspired to create Sands United FC, a local team for men who have lost a child. After a successful pilot, they allowed anyone to apply to become a “local manager” of a new team, and now there are over 30 chapters across the UK who play together every Sunday, the names of their children emblazoned across their backs.
“Sands United to me is a safe place. An environment that has been naturally grown by the participants who have showed courage and bravery to support one another. It’s a place where amazing people use the negative experiences of losing a child to positively provide support to another family who have experienced a similar event in life.
It's given me the opportunity to share my feelings and feel comfortable with my loss but proud to have been apart of his precious life. Sands United has given me friendships I never anticipated but am now forever grateful for.“
- Craig Spivey, founder of Sands United FC Hull & East Yorkshire
A situation you hope never to find yourself in, and a reminder to be grateful for all you have. To those who have been there, I am thinking of you and sending love. And to all the kind, courageous men who light the way, who hold space for others in their darkest times, and help them find the support they need: thank you.
A quick update on the Therapy Fund
Speaking of dadshelping each other, I wanted to share a quick update on the Therapy Fund. In short—you are all wonderful, generous people. Last month we raised $3,350, enough to pay for ten dads to get five sessions of therapy. The wheels are in motion with some, and plans in place to find more. When this idea started to come together I hoped we might raise a few hundred dollars but couldn’t imagine this would be where we’d end up. This feels like the start of something, and my heart is filled by seeing so many of you come together to create this impact. Thank you.
And now, for something completely different
Signing off with a double bill of the OG Doggfather, Snoop D-O-double-G, who has been turning his hand to more kid-friendly content. First up Snoop does his best David Attenborough impression, re-narrating the epic “Iguana vs. Snakes” chase scene from Planet Earth II.
Uncle Snoop has also been turning his red, bloodshot eyes towards the minefield of kids’ YouTube content, aiming at the collective might of Cocomelon and Little Baby Bum with Doggyland, dropping positive affirmations and rhymes for the next generation.
From “sipping on gin and juice” to “I choose to feel happy” in a shade under thirty years. But with a monetised channel, and three videos with 1m+ views already, Snoop clearly still has his mind on his money and his money on his mind.
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The third Rob in this short story, chalk one up to “coincidences don’t exist”
And without forgetting the many curious mums who read and donated too
Thanks for the tears on an early Saturday morning. And I meant that honestly. Men need to cry more, full stop
Working in health care, I am expose to the suffering of humans. Death, tragedy, conflict, pain. I am truly grateful for what I have and for having a blessed life. I know it can all go away because life can be unfair.
You are doing good work. For those are blessed like me, you are preparing us. And for those who have suffered, you are acknowledging them.