If you’ve lost a loved one, there are certain anniversaries and holidays that can certainly trigger painful memories, most especially if you’ve lost a parent.
On Sunday 19th June 2022 the world came together to celebrate Father’s Day, and if you’ve lost a father or someone you consider to be a strong father figure in your life – this yearly celebration can further reinforce your grief and loss.
No matter where you go, it’s almost as if there is a constant reminder of the celebration – whether it’s through emails, social media, television, adverts, or shopping malls – and they’re very hard to overlook.
Dealing with the death of a parent is never easy, it is a tough loss to bear throughout the year but even more so on a world celebration such as Father’s Day.
Whilst everyone is celebrating, it’s okay to feel sad. For me, every year, Father’s Day serves as a painful and uncomfortable reminder that my dad is no longer alive and at times that there’s one and nothing to celebrate.
Likewise, you may have the same feeling if you are a widow(er) or partner left without the father of your children.
“For me, every year, Father’s Day serves as a painful and uncomfortable reminder that my dad is no longer alive”Beatrice
I was speaking to a friend on the weekend, and it changed my perspective on Father’s Day and made me realise that there are ways to celebrate even when fatherless. With this, I hope to change the notion about Father’s Day for those grieving and hopefully make you all see that it doesn’t have to be a depressing day when you’re fatherless or widowed.
How to Cope with Father’s Day Grief
Here are some activities that you could do to celebrate Father’s Day or even (if you like) what would have been your father’s birthday. Alternatively, it is okay to not want to celebrate Father’s Day, it is also fine to grieve on the day and feel upset that you do not have a father to celebrate.
- Celebrate other father figures
This could be your brothers, an uncle, a religious leader, or someone that may have taken on a fatherly role in your life or your children’s. You can still honour other men in your life on Father’s Day. ‘ Show them just how much they mean to you and perhaps the ways they have supported you since your father’s demise.
Moreover, in the same way, that you would have gifted something to your dad on Father’s Day, you can do the same with the other father figures in your life. It’s a lovely tradition that you could adhere to a year to year.
Whilst everyone is searching for gifts for their fathers, this also ensures that you are not left out as you also have someone to present a gift to. This however does not mean they are taking the role of or replacing your father – it’s simply a kind gesture to honour them on the day.
If you’re a Christian, for example, Father’s Day may serve as an opportunity to reflect more on God’s love for you.
Psalm chapter 68 verse 5 (a Bible scripture) states that God is the “Father to the fatherless” and “defender of widows.”
Though my earthly father may not be present, knowing that God cares for me and loves me with everlasting love is such a great comfort during this time. In all circumstances, God reflects not just what a good father should be but also what a good father should do and knowing that He is the father to the fatherless is a great reassurance.
- Visit his grave
If you, like me, haven’t visited your father’s grave since his funeral, Father’s Day may be the perfect time to do so. Visiting your father’s grave can be both a daunting and overwhelming experience but also one that may strengthen you.
You may decide that you want to create a memorial or memorial monument for your father at his grave. You could get a special plaque created or you may want to leave flowers or grave blankets at the graveside. This also serves as a perfect way to pay your respects and honour your father’s legacy on an actual day.
- Write a letter to your dad
Your father may have passed on, but that doesn’t stop you from articulating what you perhaps would like to have said to him on Father’s Day. Writing a letter to your father is an effective grieving tool and a way to help you heal emotionally too!
You could include fond memories of them in the letter, major milestones, or achievements you have accomplished since their passing, family news or simply just how much you love and miss them. You’d be surprised how much weight would be lifted after doing such an activity.
You could share your letter with another loved one, or even lay it at your father’s grave.
- Appreciate what you did have
Acknowledge the holiday – don’t neglect it! Use this as a time to appreciate what you had, the life your father lived, the values he left behind and the fond memories you have of him.
You can use Father’s Day or the days leading up to it as an opportunity to reflect on the things your dad may have liked to do, his favourite hobbies or activities.
Perhaps your dad loved sports racing, or playing golf or maybe going to the beach. You can choose to spend Father’s Day actively doing those things – it’s a great way to keep the memory of your father alive, even though they’re not physically there at the moment.
Father’s Day is also about honouring and showing love to the different men in our lives. Though your father may not be physically present for you to show this – intentionally deciding to do something that he loved is also a beautiful way to celebrate the day.
- Bring your family together
Joining together as a family definitely gives much-needed support on what typically may be an emotional day. Getting together with family and friends that loved your father is a great way to keep his memory alive.
You can use this as an opportunity to share fond memories of your father, what you loved about him, and share embarrassing stories. You can host a dinner party set up in honour of your father and cook his favourite meals. Alternatively, you can simply gather to watch some of your father’s favourite movies.
On occasions like this, you’ll realise that this will give you and others the emotional support needed. Knowing that you’re not the only one who misses your dad will help you during this time.
Perhaps planning in advance will be helpful so here are some of the upcoming dates for Father’s Day over the next few years:
2022: Sunday, June 19
2023: Sunday, June 18
2024: Sunday, June 16
2025: Sunday, June 15
2026: Sunday, June 21
We hope that you will put some of these tips to use on father’s Day, anniversaries birthdays other special occasions or simply just because you miss them.
Is your father deceased? Or perhaps it’s your husband? How have you found Father’s Day since their passing? Do you still find ways to celebrate? We would love to hear from you.