If you’re struggling with grief this Father’s Day, you are not alone.
It’s hard to escape the commercial side of any holiday and Father’s Day is no exception. Greeting cards, TV and online advertising, and social media all tell us how we’re supposed to feel about Father’s Day. Happiness. Celebration. Togetherness.
For those who are lucky enough to still have their fathers in their life, Father’s Day can be a great day. But if your father has passed away, the day can be very hard and a reminder of your grief.
When you’ve lost your father
If you had a good dad, then Father’s Day can be sorrowful and maybe even bittersweet as you remember good times. If you had a more difficult relationship, the day can bring up feelings of frustration, loneliness, and sadness.
It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, single or married, a parent or not, losing your father is one of the most emotional experiences you’ll ever go through.
Here are some things you can do to make the day a little easier:
- Compile & treasure your memories. What are your first memories of your father? What are you grateful for? What did he teach you? Ask your family members and friends for their memories too. Write them down.
- Pay tribute. Do an activity your dad loved. Eat his favorite meal. Visit that special place you used to go to together.
- Give a gift. What was your favorite Father’s Day gift? Buy one and give it to someone in need. For example, did your dad love plaid shirts? Buy one, wrap it up, drop it off at a nursing home and ask them to give it to a gentleman who would need it. (Given COVID-related regulations we recommend you call ahead and see if someone can take it from you at the front door.)
- Take care of yourself. Decide if you want to make plans with friends or have some quiet time on Father’s Day. Knowing what you’re going to do that day may help.
- Ask for help. If you start to feel overwhelmed by sadness or grief, reach out to a family member, friend, or counselor. Help and support can make all the difference.
Supporting others through the day
While you may not have experienced the loss of your father, some of your friends may have. Their loss may be recent or many years ago, but they may find Father’s Day triggering. Regardless, there are lots of things you can do to reach out and make their day a little brighter. Here are a few ideas how you can help:
- Send a text or give them a call. This small act means so much. All you need to do is remind them that you’re thinking of them.
- Be a source of comfort. Be there to listen to them and provide support.
- Avoid clichés and platitudes. Don’t try to rush your friend through the process of grief. This only invalidates what they’re feeling. Be patient. Learn more about what to say to someone who is grieving.
- Be aware of their feelings. If they don’t feel up to company, respect that. Offer them a rain check.