By Dr. Karin Luise
On the path to
We were 29 years old when we first met for lunch on a patio overlooking Peachtree Road. A mutual friend had insisted I meet Denna Babul, knowing we had enough in common to extend lunch into dinner into drinks...which we did. On the surface, we were both strong, vibrant women who seemed to have it all together, but underneath, we were each facing emotional storms due to recent break-ups that seemed to unravel us at our cores. As we would later realize, we were going through these life experiences for a reason. We were being led to confront and heal one of our deepest wounds: fear of abandonment – which we later learned is the hallmark after-shock of father loss. A decade later, Denna and I would write and publish the book that would transform our lives: The Fatherless Daughter Project: Understanding Our Losses and Reclaiming Our Lives (Avery Books; Penguin Random House, June 7, 2016). But the journey had started long before that. Denna was 13 when her father tragically died, and she heard a voice tell her that she would not only heal from her pain, but would one day help women do the same. That calling never left her heart, and after several attempts at writing the book and one appearance on The Today Show, she called me in as the PhD on the project. Of course, we both knew that under my degree and professional experience, I also had my own hidden pain from father loss, due to divorce, abuse and estrangement. What I did not realize in those early months was that researching and writing the manuscript would be the very bridge to my own healing. With Denna’s insight and
New book empowers fatherless daughters
encouragement, as well as my own work in therapy and prayer, I found a new, open pathway to healing my own wounds and resolving the buried issues with my own fathers. I knew that I had to walk further down my path in order to authentically ask other women to do the same. Through research and interviews, we uncovered the range of emotions that resurface for fatherless daughters as they mature and go through more inevitable heartbreak – in family, career and relationships. Future losses can trigger significantly deep pain for fatherless daughters, pushing them to either isolate themselves, seek out a range of coping mechanisms, or decide to grow by working through old wounds that they had kept hidden since childhood. We define fatherlessness as the loss of a bond with the father from a range of circumstances, including death, divorce, desertion, incarceration, abuse, addiction and emotional absence. In our study, one in two women identified as fatherless, usually before the age of ten. In an effort to bring life and language to the stories of our daughters, we also filmed the documentary “The Fatherless Daughter Project (TFDP)” and started a nonprofit foundation under the same name, which launched in Atlanta in 2015. Our mission was born out of the very experience that brought us together: the need to be heard, supported and empowered. Our book attempts to help women find their own healing by understanding the impact of their losses and recognizing the power of their own resilience.
For more details, visit FatherlessDaughterProject.com, DoctorKarin.com, DennaBabul.com Facebook: The Fatherless Daughter Project / Twitter & Instagram: DoctorKarin; FDPrjct Southern Seasons Magazine