The Grief of Dads
Support and Hope for Catholic Fathers Navigating Child Loss
by Patrick O’Hearn; Bryan Feger; Ryan Breaux;
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Pub Date 01 Sep 2023 | Archive Date 11 Dec 2023
For a variety of reasons—including cultural norms, a man’s traditional role in the family, and lack of support—a father’s grief often fades into the background when his child dies. The Grief of Dads was written by Catholic fathers just like you who have lost a child at any age and from any circumstance. These dads offer the support, spiritual guidance, and companionship you need as you make your way through grief.
The Grief of Dads is an important resource to help you know that you are not alone and to work through loss and the upheaval of deep grieving with help from men who have been there, too.
Authors Patrick O’Hearn and Bryan Feger, along with Ryan Breaux of Red Bird Ministries—an organization that guides individuals and couples through the trauma of losing a child—want to normalize conversations about men’s grief.
Drawing on the richness of the Catholic faith, they offer stories from the men in the Bible and from male saints who knew the pain of losing a child and yet found hope and healing in God. The authors share their own stories and the experiences of seven other fathers who lean on their faith and seek healing with help from the sacraments, the Bible, fellow Catholics, and the devotional practices of the Church.
The book includes resource lists, journaling space, prayers, spiritual reflections, and letters of spiritual support, as well as guidance for friends, family, and pastors of grieving fathers. Kelly Breaux, cofounder and president of Red Bird Ministries, wrote a chapter for wives as well.
A Note From the Publisher
He earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Ambrose University and a master’s degree from Franciscan University of Steubenville. O’Hearn is a member of the Knights of Columbus. He founded Contemplative Heart Press, serves as brand manager for Holy Heroes, and is a freelance editor.
His work has been featured in the National Catholic Register and Aleteia. O'Hearn has appeared on EWTN’s Women of Grace and At Home with Jim and Joy, EWTN radio, Relevant Radio, and Iowa Catholic Radio.
He and his wife, Amanda, lost two of their four children to miscarriage.
Bryan Feger is a scientist and medical writer. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Augustana College and a doctorate in physiology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
He is a member of the Knights of Columbus and serves as a high school catechist and as part of Yokefellows Prison Ministry.
After experiencing the loss of three children from miscarriage, he feels called to let other dads know they are not alone, grieving is necessary, and healing is possible.
Kelly and Ryan Breaux cofounded Red Bird Ministries following the loss of four of their children—two boys and two girls. The organization helps parents who have lost a child to find healing. Red Bird partners with dioceses and parishes to provide the tools and resources to support families who have experienced the loss of a child from pregnancy through adulthood.
Ryan and Kelly coauthored Restoring Love. Ryan also contributed to several books published by Red Bird Ministries for group and couple’s programs offered by the organization. Ryan and Kelly provide mental health content for the Hallow app. They have been guests on a number of Catholic radio and TV shows, including At Home with Jim and Joy on EWTN, Rome Reports, the Catholic Faith Network, Seize the Day with Gus Lloyd, and Kresta in the Afternoon. Their work has been featured in the National Catholic Register, Radiant magazine, FemCatholic, Aleteia, and in numerous diocesan publications.
Ryan works as a key account manager for Coca-Cola Bottling Company United and is in his second term as an alderman. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus.
“As parents who have lost children ourselves, we know this book is a beautiful, restorative resource. Dads—your grief is real. Allow the Lord to use this text as a way forward for deep healing in your life.”
Jackie and Bobby Angel
Catholic authors and speakers
“Packed with rich stories and powerful testimonies, The Grief of Dads is a beautifully written book for Catholic men who grieve the death of a child. It gives you a roadmap to follow and permission to feel; a reason to heal and a purpose as you move forward, learning to live with your loss and your grieving.”
Author of Holy Grit
“The Grief of Dads opens hearts to the unthinkable reality of losing a precious child. Wisely grounded in our Catholic faith, it offers encouragement, enlightenment, and instruction—whether you are a grieving parent or a bystander who longs to reach out in compassion. It speaks the truth that we longtime bereft parents know firsthand.”
M. Donna MacLeod
Author of the Seasons of Hope program
“I’m intensely grateful for this book and its emphasis on men’s spiritual and religious experiences through child loss, particularly perinatal loss, my own professional field. As discussions of these losses finally become more commonplace, I worry that dads are being left behind. This book tells loss dads, ‘Your grief is important and you are not alone!’ I highly recommend The Grief of Dads to any bereaved man looking for answers, for solidarity or for ideas of where to look for God in the shattering grief that comes with losing a child.”
Catholic bereavement doula
and professor of sociology and health care ethics at Saint Louis University
“It’s more than OK for men to grieve. It can safely be said that if a man does not grieve properly, there will be a flurry of other issues that will arise in his life—physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges. The men who have shared their testimonies of pain in this book will help so many men who don’t know where to start. I will be recommending this book along with Ryan and Kelly Breaux’s apostolate, Red Bird Ministries, to those who are struggling with the loss of a child, whether the child passed away in the womb or in their teens, twenties, thirties, or forties.”
Fr. John Paul Mary, MFVA
EWTN Global Catholic Network employee chaplain