A Day Without Dad: Coping with Loss on Father’s Day
Father's Day is a time to celebrate and recognize our dads and father figures. However, it can be an emotionally painful holiday if your father has passed away.
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The death of a parent is the most common form of bereavement in the United States. Even if you feel as if you are coping well with their loss, holidays can be particularly difficult. Here are some suggestions to help manage your loss while honoring your dad.
Memorialize Your Father
The desire to memorialize those who have passed is part of human nature. We may feel a need to create a tangible memorial such as a monument or plaque. Here are other ways to celebrate your father's life, including:
- Donating to a charity in his name
- Planting a tree
- Designing a special gravestone
- Making a memory book
Memorials of any kind serve as everlasting tributes that help us manage grief. When we lose a loved one, we miss their physical presence, so creating a place or thing to visit in their name can help decrease sadness and loneliness.
Acknowledge the Holiday
It is almost impossible to avoid the in-store displays promoting Father's Day, the advertisements on TV enticing viewers to buy gifts for Dad and the chatter on social media about people's plans and celebrations. By acknowledging the holiday, you help yourself to be emotionally prepared for it, which in turn can help promote healthy healing.
For instance, buying a card, whether it's humorous or heartfelt, allows you to observe the holiday in his memory. You might even find closure by writing in the card about any unfinished issues you might have had with your father and putting them in the card.
If you are sad, don't feel like you have to set aside your grief for the holiday. Grieving is an individualized process and there is no right way or right amount of time to grieve. If you are unsure whether you are ready to celebrate Father's Day, it is perfectly fine to acknowledge the day without participating in it.
Although you may think you want to be alone, isolating yourself on Father's Day may make you feel worse. Try to spend the day, or part of it, with someone who cares about you. Have dinner with friends, go see a movie with family members, or find a bereavement group meeting to attend on Sunday. Ask other members about how they cope. Not only will you spend time with people who understand what you're going through, you might learn valuable coping skills.