Fathers’ Day for the Grieving
Fathers’ Day, like so many other special dates, are very family-centered. It’s a time to show appreciation to the men who gave us life and shaped us. But for some, Fathers’ Day is difficult. For those people who have lost their fathers, or those fathers who have lost a child, we offer some suggestions to make this holiday a little bit easier.
If you’ve lost your father
Losing your father is traumatic, whatever your age. You may feel like you didn’t get enough time with him, and wish you could still call him for advice. Alternately, you may have had a strained relationship, and wish you had been better able to mend fences when there was still the opportunity. Whatever the relationship was, Father’s Day can dredge up emotions that are painful and sad.
• A card or a letter can help you work through your emotions. It may be that you were close to your father, and miss him every day. A card to say “I love you, I remember you, and I miss you” can be healing, even if there’s nowhere to mail it. On the other hand, if your relationship with your dad was difficult, a letter can be cathartic, helping you say all the things you wish you’d been able to say. You can leave a card or letter at your father’s gravesite, or you can put it somewhere safe, to look at later.
• Reaching out to a father figure can be beneficial to both of you. You’ve lost your father, but maybe you know a father who has lost a son, or an older gentleman who was never blessed with children. Spending time with someone who can fill that “father” role in your life will not ever make up for the loss of your dad, but it may bring a new, enriching relationship into your life and his.
• Share your father with others. Whether it’s telling stories to your children, reminiscing with your siblings, or watching Dad’s favorite sporting event or movie with people close to you, sharing happy memories of your father can make you feel closer to him. Consider making a donation to an organization in his name related to his life interests.
• Visit the gravesite. It might make you feel better to be near your father’s resting place, because it can be a good place to be quiet and feel communion with him. Father’s Day is a good time to bring flowers, too, perhaps in the colors of his alma mater or favorite sports team.
If you’re a father grieving a loss
The loss of a child is something no father even wants to think could happen to him. The pain can be intense, and what’s worse, you may feel that you need to be stoic for your family, showing strength so that they can mourn.
• Allow yourself to grieve. It’s healthy for your spouse and children to see that you feel the loss. It’s natural to be sad over the death of a child, and it might help to talk about it with other people who are sad, too.
• Spend time with children. If you have other children, make sure to give them your attention on Father’s Day. It’s ok to say that you miss the child who was lost, but be clear in your happiness that your other children are still in your life. If you don’t have other children of your own, you may want to reach out to other children in your life, like a niece or nephew, or the child of a friend. Sometimes, just playing catch or a simple game like hide and seek can make you smile and take away a little bit of pain. You’ll be doing something good for another child, too, which is a great way to honor the memory of your lost son or daughter.
• Acknowledge your loss. Maybe your family can say a prayer together, in honor of your missing family member, or maybe a moment of silence in tribute would be more appropriate. You may find that playing your child’s favorite game is a good way to honor that life, or telling funny, happy stories to each other to help ease each other’s burdens.
• Spend time with friends or family. It’s natural to want to pull back in times of sadness, not wanting others to be burdened by our grief. The people closest to you, however, want to be able to help, and may not know how. Doing something fun this Fathers’ Day, with people who care about you, can make you feel a little bit better.
These special days/holidays are never going to be easy when you’re grieving, but feeling that sadness is a natural part of the healing process. If you feel like you’re having trouble navigating your own path to healing, and you need a little bit of help, we’re here for you. From books to recommend, to support groups and referrals, we have the resources needed to support those who are grieving. Contact us today, to see how we can help you.
Fathers’ Day for the Grieving