The Group: Seven Widowed Fathers Reimagine Life

Launching a bereavement support group for widowed fathers was a significant departure from the clinical work Drs. Rosenstein and Yopp normally conducted at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina. Their focus had been on offering psychological and psychiatric care and counseling to patients undergoing active cancer treatments. But after caring for several terminally ill women with young children, and hearing the women's concerns about their husbands, the doctors turned their focus toward the needs of often neglected, widowed fathers.

Their outreach, the Single Fathers Due to Cancer Program, initially brought together young widowed fathers for six sessions. The seven widowers openly shared their struggles through loss and grief, their challenges and setbacks, and the dynamic support offered by the group became remarkably beneficial. As a result, the program later expanded and continued to meet for four years.
The Group documents the personalities and experiences of the original seven widowers and illustrates how weekly meetings forged a bond among them, providing a positive channel as they adapted to catastrophic losses. Dilemmas particular to each father are highlighted through topics including survivor coping strategies, issues with children and child rearing, managing the home minus a maternal presence, post-traumatic growth and resilience, and the challenges of dating again. Rosenstein and Yopp demonstrate how the camaraderie of their innovative group bolstered and healed the men, encouraging them to find meaning and create new lives beyond unthinkable loss. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

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