Fathers have a unique role within their families and how they impact and shape their children's lives. A father's death can be one of the most impactful losses in any individual's life and can also represent the loss of ideals, security, and stability. As a result, Father's Day can take on an entirely new meaning for individuals whose father has died or for fathers who've lost a child.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- How Might It Feel to Miss Your Deceased Dad on Father’s Day?
- Tips for Dealing With Grief on Father’s Day
- Tips for Helping a Loved One Deal With Grief on Father’s Day
Bereaved individuals may struggle with Father's Day grief for other unfamiliar reasons aside from coping with the death of a beloved father. Father's Day can also be hard for survivors, like mothers dealing with the death of their spouses.
The anticipation of the day can have as much impact as the holiday itself, making it that much more challenging to get through. It's understandable for bereaved families and individuals coping with this type of loss to feel heartbroken as the holiday approaches.
How Might It Feel to Miss Your Deceased Dad on Father’s Day?
Missing your dad on Father's day is a normal reaction to grief and isn't something you should feel overly concerned about. When confronted with your father's death, you can expect grief and mourning to accompany your loss. The emotional impact can last for several years and cause you to experience physical reactions to your loss that will come and go. Some ways that you might feel include the following:
- Sense of yearning or longing
- Profound pain and a strong sense of loss
- Loss of motivation and will to live
Many other physical and emotional manifestations of grief can affect bereaved individuals. Because grief is a unique experience, not everyone will suffer the same. As you learn to cope with your loss, you'll find helpful ways to get through holidays and other special days throughout the year. Several free grief resources are available online that might help you better understand what you're feeling or going through.
Tips for Dealing With Grief on Father’s Day
Dealing with the loss of a father is hard. It can be painful to accept that they're no longer there to guide you or give you much-needed advice to get through some rough patches in life. Grief on Father's Day can be incredibly challenging for bereaved individuals trying to accept their father's death.
The heaviness that accompanies these special days can often seem overwhelming, leaving you at a loss for how to deal with the pain and suffering. The tips below may help you get through Father’s Day and give you a renewed sense of purpose.
1. Be at one with your grief
When you ignore your grief or hold off processing it, it tends to accumulate as unresolved grief. Coping with a father's death is never easy, and it can lend to the manifesting of specific emotional responses that you may not know how to confront. Within some families, fathers are either absent, abusive, or don't take the time to bond with their children.
A father's stressors as they struggle to maintain a household and live a fulfilling life outside their responsibilities can contribute to their lasting legacies. To fully understand your emotional responses to your father's death, take some time alone to assess your losses.
2. Reflect on your relationship
Whether your relationship with your father was beautiful or lacked closeness, every father/child relationship leaves some lasting impact on loved ones that they’ll carry for the rest of their lives. Your connection with your father may have been one that promoted grief when they were alive or one that now fills you with warm and loving memories of them.
Whether good, bad, or nonexistent, the relationship with your father will color the rest of your life. Reflecting on your bond and the person they were will help you process your loss and better understand your grief.
3. Use this day to honor your father
Escaping this holiday is nearly impossible to do with every ad on the radio and television reminding you not to forget your dad’s special day. Even when you try to block out these minor invasions into your grief journey, paying tribute to your dad on Father’s Day will help ease some of the pain of losing them.
Consider starting new traditions that help you maintain your bond with your father by cooking their favorite meal or visiting their favorite restaurant on Father’s Day. Simple rituals such as this help pass down their legacy to loved ones who may be too young to remember them.
4. Set and keep boundaries
Well-meaning friends and family members might invite you to celebrate this special day with them as they honor the dads in their lives. It's okay for you to decline invitations without explanation and skip out on festivities that may be too painful for you. When you agree to do things against your healing progress, it can set you back.
When you're dealing with grief that's too fresh or painful, this is the time for you to focus primarily on your needs until you regain your footing in your new reality following your father's death.
5. Visit their graveside
Making a special visit to your father’s graveside to wish them a Happy Father’s Day in heaven can help you celebrate the day with a special meaning. Perhaps you didn’t have a chance to say a proper goodbye before they died, and you’ve been meaning to find a reason to go to the cemetery or other final resting place.
Pack some tissues, some water, and a few light snacks to hold you over if you decide to stay longer than anticipated. Bringing flowers, balloons, or other small gifts is customary when celebrating special days with a deceased loved one.
6. Write them a letter
Whenever you need to talk to your dad to go over some things that seem impossible for you to figure out on your own, sit down and write them a letter. Tell them everything you're going through, the things you've come up with to try and resolve your issues, and how much you miss them and need their support.
You can either read this letter aloud to them, place it in a box in your closet, or burn it to send the ashes wherever your father may be. Close your eyes while concentrating on what your father's advice might've been and wait for the answer to come to you.
Tips for Helping a Loved One Deal With Grief on Father’s Day
Special days such as Father's Day can exacerbate the grief and mourning accompanying a significant loss. Whether this is your loved one's first Father's Day without their dad or if years have passed since, days like this can reopen wounds and make the experience feel fresh all over again, especially if they are still struggling with unresolved grief.
You can help provide a loved one with the added emotional support needed to get through this holiday by incorporating some of the following tips.
7. Let them know you’re thinking of them
Being there for someone who is grieving can mean the world to them, as they may be suffering in silence and could use a supportive loved one during the grieving process. A father’s death can produce intimate loneliness that’s challenging to overcome. Whether your loved one had a close relationship with their father or estranged, this type of loss is impactful and can feel devastating.
A phone call, text, or private message on social media can help improve a bereaved person’s mindset and positively impact their healing.
8. Take them out for lunch
Make the time to meet up in person with a grieving loved one whenever possible. Doing so not only reestablishes your relationship with them, but it helps you connect on a more personal level.
In-person meetups help foster more profound and meaningful conversations that help your grieving loved one reexamine their priorities and ultimately come to terms with their father’s death and subsequent losses. Your presence also provides them with added comfort and support at a time when they may need it most.
9. Ask them about their father
You never know how someone's grief experience affects their lives and the impact their father's death may have on them. Some individuals may feel like they're not allowed to grieve because they have families and children of their own who depend on them to stay strong.
Perhaps your loved one hasn't had time to fully process their father's death or a chance to talk about the impact it's had on them. Ask them to tell you about their father and how they've been coping with their loss. Then sit back and listen.
10. Go for a walk in nature
One of the best ways to survive the grief and heartache that follows a father’s death is to be at one with nature. Ask your loved one to join you on a special walk to honor their father’s memory. Don’t worry about coming up with anything to say that will make them feel better.
Practice walking in silence and taking in the sights and sounds that nature offers. The beauty of walking in silence is that it can be very therapeutic to grieving souls, providing them a place to process their loss. Physical movement helps lessen the stressful emotional responses to grief and helps someone suffering better cope with their loss.
11. Send a thoughtful gift
Thoughtful gifts sent at appropriate times following a father’s death let your loved one know that their father’s life was meaningful and that you care about them. When you know that a loved one’s struggling with grief as Father’s Day approaches, it may help them to see that they’re not alone. Appropriate gifts to consider may include:
- Grief journal
- Personalized memorial jewelry
Coping With the Loss of a Father
Living with grief following a father’s death can leave a lasting impact on the family left behind. Special days like Father’s Day can reopen unhealed grief wounds for many years afterward. As each year passes, the pain of loss will lessen, but until then, finding ways to get through the holiday can help a grieving person survive the impact of the pain of loss.