Losing a father is never easy, and can be particularly difficult to deal with that grief during Father’s Day. Culture dictates that we should celebrate with our fathers on Father’s Day, but now it may just be you remember your relationship with your father. It’s normal to deal with feelings of grief, sadness, and confusion during this time of year. However, you don’t have to let this day pass without saying “Happy Father’s Day."
If you’ve lost your dad, Father’s Day is a chance to reflect on your memories in honor of your dad. Try one of these ideas below for how to say “Happy Father’s Day in heaven.” You can make a new tradition for Father’s Day that helps you honor his memory. Those we love are never really gone. Holidays remind us that those who pass on are closer than we think.
Here are the dates for Father's Day for the next few years:
2021: Sunday, June 20
2022: Sunday, June 19
2023: Sunday, June 18
2024: Sunday, June 16
2025: Sunday, June 15
If you need more ideas on how to cope, read our guide on how to survive your first Father's Day without your dad. And if you'd like some guidance through the process of losing a loved one, check out our post-loss checklist.
1. Visit His Grave
When was the last time you visited your father’s grave? Help clean up the grave, bring fresh flowers, clean the headstone, and take some time to talk to your dad. Or sometimes, the quiet ambiance of a cemetery assists in reflecting on the many memories you shared. You should feel welcome here all year round, but it’s especially nice to visit during holidays like Father’s Day.
Wish your father a happy Father’s Day yourself at his grave. Read to him from his favorite book, tell him what’s going on in your life, or share a letter.
2. Light a Candle
Another way to honor your father on this special day is to light a candle, whether at a place of worship or at home. In many traditions, lighting a candle is a way to connect to the spirits of lost loved ones. By lighting a candle, you celebrate this holiday with a quiet moment to yourself.
While the candle is lit, consider doing something special. You might write a special eulogy for your father, recounting his impact on those around him. You might write him a letter. Whatever you do, keep your father close in your mind.
3. Plan a Family Meal
Having time with your family can help lessen the burden of grief—especially on a day like Father’s Day. If you're feeling down or struggling, you’re likely not the only one. Share your feelings or find a way to support your family during this difficult time.
Planning something like a nice lunch or dinner offers a great way for people to contribute and also participate in kind with you to remember your father.
Share your final wishes, just in case.
Send your end-of-life preferences—including your funeral, legal, medical, and legacy choices—with your loved ones. Create a free Cake profile to get started.
4. Read a Father’s Day Poem
Poetry is a powerful way to communicate feelings and ideas. It can also be ideal for expressing your grief after the passing of your father. On Father’s Day, why not read a poem? Poems can be some truly warm reminders of the impact your father had on your life, and the impact his memory continues to have.
Here are some of the most popular Father’s Day poems:
- “To Her Father with Some Verses” by Anne Bradstreet
- “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke
- “In Dreams” by Kim Addonizio
You can read our guide on what to do if you're missing your dad on Father's Day for more ideas.
5. Make a Donation
Did your father have a cause he believed in? Giving to a cause that meant something to your dad is an inspiring way to make a lasting impact in his honor. Donate money to a cause or volunteer your time to honor your father’s legacy.
To make your contribution more special, consider gifting some of his belongings to a charity of your choice. Find comfort in knowing that his favorite things won’t go to waste in a storage space somewhere. They’ll continue to bring people joy for years to come.
6. Buy Flowers
Flowers have always been the traditional gifts and symbols to pay respects to the deceased. Purchase flowers for Father’s Day in honor of your dad. Put your flowers on display somewhere special, like in your living room or by your door. Think of him when you see them.
Here are some flower suggestions for Father’s Day:
- Tropical flowers for a bold statement
- Roses to represent mourning
- Tulips to symbolize happiness
7. Participate in Your Father’s Favorite Activity
On Father’s Day, most people spend this time with their dads. Even though your father is no longer here, you can still say “Happy Father’s Day” by spending time engaging in one of his favorite hobbies.
What was his favorite activity? How would you always spend Father’s Day together? You might go fishing on his favorite lake or watch his favorite movie. Either way, you’ll be thinking of him.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Visit his favorite place
- Play your father’s favorite sport
- Listen to your father’s favorite music
8. Reflect on a Father’s Day Quote
Father’s Day can always offer an opportunity for reflection. Reading and meditating on a Father’s Day quote can connect your feelings with real-world experiences.
Not only can you recognize that others have gone through similar types of grief, but you can remember your own memories with your dad.
Examples of Father’s Day quotes
- “A father is a man who expects his son to be as good a man as he meant to be” - Frank A. Clark, politician
- “One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.” - George Herbert, poet
- “A father doesn’t tell you that he loves you. He shows you.” - Charlie Fletcher, author
9. Post on Social Media
Social media is always flooded with Father’s Day posts at this time of year. Just because your loved one is no longer with you doesn’t mean you can’t make a social post of your own. Share your favorite photos, a Father’s Day quote, or some words about your father.
Sharing your love for him on social media is a loving way to memorialize his passing. Learn how to say thank you for condolences on Facebook to acknowledge any support you receive.
10. Buy a Gift
Gifts are a popular way to say “Happy Father’s Day.” You can still evoke the gift-giving spirit for this holiday by buying a gift for yourself or a loved one. Think of what your father would have appreciated on this holiday. Gift this to yourself or someone in need of extra support.
If you can’t think of any gifts to give, talk to local charities. Many of them need extra supplies or items throughout the year. Purchasing gifts in your dad’s honor is a great way to give back.
11. Look at Photos
Take a few minutes to reflect on Father’s Day. Looking through photo albums, digital memories, and so on will keep cherished memories of your dad alive. Pictures connect us to the memories that mean the most to us on Father’s Day.
For a fun Father’s Day activity, print some of your favorite photos of dad. They can be with you and him or the whole family. Frame them professionally or make a photo collage or your favorites. Hang your creation somewhere you’ll see it often. Now you have the perfect reminder for every Father’s Day.
12. Go on a Trip
Is there anywhere your father always wanted to go? Many of us don’t get to fulfill our entire bucket lists throughout our lives. Luckily, you can go on these trips and do these things in honor of your father.
Whether you visit a nearby park or take a trip abroad, you won’t be alone. Think of your dad while exploring. What would he have liked to do? What would he make of this experience? This is a great Father’s Day tradition. Visit a new place every year, or revisit his favorite places. Perhaps it will help you feel closer to your father.
13. Read a Book
Finding comfort in a book is a way to deal with your grief on Father’s Day. You can say “Happy Father’s Day” with your actions.
Perhaps you read one of his favorite books, or maybe you just lose yourself in one of our favorite books on grief. If you have young kids, reading children’s books on death might help with this difficult time.
14. Toast to Dad
Finally, cheers to your father on this special holiday. Gather your friends and family for an evening with your dad’s favorite drinks and food. Share memories, talk about your feelings and simply be together.
In times of need, drawing on your support system can be a lifesaver. You don’t have to go through Father’s Day without dad alone. You can mark the occasion with those you love at your side for support.
Start a New Father’s Day Tradition
After losing a parent, Father’s Day will naturally change. You can no longer pick up the phone and call your dad or send him a card. And it can be quite hard to deal with your grief and emotions. All of these ideas above are just some of the many suggestions you can do for some new Father’s Day traditions. They allow you to say “Happy Father’s Day” no matter how you feel or where you may be.
Taking the time to do something special on Father’s Day in honor of your dad will keep his memory alive. Those we love are always with us. Why not spend this Father’s Day reminiscing on your connection with your dad?
Looking for more ideas on how to remember your dad? Read our guide on how to say "happy birthday in heaven, Dad" on his special day.