I look forward to the third Sunday in June when I can gather with my family to celebrate my kind, generous, hard-working father. Barbecuing, visiting with family, laughing, and lawn games tend to be our usual celebration. I have five brothers, a loving husband, and many other wonderful men in my life. My life is blessed by the influence of all of these men and I thank the Lord for them daily.
As Father’s Day approaches this year, my thoughts are turned in a different direction. With the sudden loss of a dear friend, my thoughts are turned to his children who are going to have a different experience this Sunday. His eight children/young adults will have their first Father’s Day without their father. Father’s Day is not just any holiday that the whole family celebrates together, it is a holiday that is centered around one person, their dad, and they just lost him. I can only imagine the sadness and emptiness that will fill their day. With eight different personalities, the range of emotions will be great.
Losing loved ones is one of the hardest things that we go through in this life. Each person experiences grief in different ways and that grief can quickly consume us if we are not aware of how to deal with it. As I think of my friends on this Father’s Day, I also reflect on the millions of people all over the world who know that not every holiday is joyous. Especially on the “first” holidays after a loss. It’s not uncommon to feel an ambush of grief, sadness, loneliness, or anxiety as each holiday approaches, but there are ways to help ease the hurt.
This “first” Father’s Day that my friends will experience is going to be a challenge. Instead of wondering whether to buy a new tie or golf gloves, this family is going to have to figure out how to make it through the day. As the years pass, the holidays will get slightly easier. As they learn how to find joy in the memories that they created with their dad they can learn how to celebrate in new and different ways.
If you, too, have lost your father, here are some tips for honoring your dad and finding some peace and joy while doing so:
- Discuss with your family ways you can honor your father that day.
- Buy or create a Father’s Day card where you can write a letter to your dad (It can be very therapeutic to put your thoughts down on paper).
- Make your dad’s favorite meal and remember the good times you had around the dinner table.
- Visit your dad’s burial place. Place some flowers or spend some time telling your dad how you are feeling.
- Do an activity that you loved to do with your dad.
- Reminisce with your family and share some of your favorite stories and funny memories of your dad.
- Look through photo albums or start a memory album.
- If it’s too hard to be home on this day, plan an outing or weekend vacation. A change of scenery might be just what you need.
Most importantly, take it easy on yourself. Remember that even with planning, the day may not go as you anticipate. You may or may not have the feeling that you expect to. Often while grieving, people forget to take care of themselves. If you need a day for some “me time” don’t feel guilty about that. Self-care is important, especially while you are grieving. Plan ahead, but also be aware that grieving can be a winding road, and sometimes you don’t see the obstacles ahead.
If you have lost a loved one and are experiencing grief that you don’t know how to cope with, Heart ‘n Home has experienced Spiritual & Grief Counselors who are experts in helping you discover methods and tools to cope with grief. Each of our offices hold Grief & Loss Support Groups. These groups are available to our patient’s families as well as the community-anyone who has experienced any kind of loss. Visit our News & Events page to see when groups are in your area.