Father’s Day should be a celebration, an occasion to get together as a family, an opportunity to spend time with your dad and celebrate his role within your family. But, if you have lost your father, trying to celebrate Father’s Day while mourning your dad might be more of a challenge.
How to Honor a Deceased Father on Father’s Day
No matter how long ago or how recently you lost your dad, significant events such as Father’s Day celebrations can place too much pressure on you. However, instead of ignoring the holidays, embrace the celebrations, acknowledge them, and take the time to honor your dad.
Write a Letter
Sometimes, venting your feelings away with a letter can help you process and digest what you are feeling. Write your emotions, memories of your dad, things you’d like to say to him. Think of this as a way to connect with your passed father.
Visit Your Dad’s Grave
Holidays such as a birthday or Father’s Day are often occasions where many people visit their passed relatives. Plan a visit to your dad’s grave and bring something to commemorate the occasion, whether it is flowers, rocks, photos, or letters.
Pay Tribute to Your Dad
Was there anything your dad loved to do? Running marathons, volunteering, fishing, or maybe golfing? Honor your deceased father by taking the time to do something he or perhaps both of you enjoyed together. You could also raise money for an organization your father was fond of, following his legacy through charity.
Visit Other Dads
Just as you are a son mourning the loss of your father, there are many fathers out there mourning the loss of their child. Plan a visit to a caring facility and spend the days with fathers that might celebrate the day by themselves. You will feel their love, and they will feel yours. Making someone else happy is the biggest gift one can give.
Ask for Help
Again, no matter how long or how recent was the passing of your father, seeking help is always a good idea. Losing a parental figure is a significant trauma for someone. Sometimes one can feel lost while mourning the loss of a close relative. Do not be afraid to seek counseling, ask for help on how to deal with the loss and how to learn to mourn your loved one. There are many ways you can seek grief counseling.
How to Support Children that Have Lost Their Dad on Father’s Day
Another aspect of Father’s Day looks at children that have lost their dads. While as adults we can understand death, children might not see the whole spectrum or might have trouble processing the situation. If there are children in your family that have lost their dad, help them honor their dad on Father’s Day.
Talk about Memories of Their Dad
Sit down with the kids and talk about happy memories of their dad. Let them get to know their dad through your memories and stories about him. Having positive memories of their dad will help them keep the memories of their loved one alive.
Make a Photo Album
As you talk through stories and funny memories, you might want to dust off those old photo albums and show the children some of the pictures. Get together and make a photo album or scrapbook together, this will give the children an activity to honor their dad’s memory.
Listen to the Children
Even if they make no sense, listen to whatever the children have to say. It is hard for us adults to find words to describe our mourning, let alone for a child to explain it. Listen to their thoughts and feelings and be there as their support.
Avoid saying things such as:
“It has been a while now…” – Everyone mourns differently, and we believe mourning never ends, it just transforms.
“You need to stay strong for your mom…” – Children should not bear the weight of their mom’s well-being, let them process their grief on their own, without additional pressure.
“Your dad would want you to…” – Even though you mean well, don’t place words on their father’s memory. Most likely he would like them to do whatever they are doing right now, which is taking their time to process their loss.
Visit Dad’s Grave
Bringing children to a cemetery is always tricky, sometimes they might not understand what is happening or the reason for their visit. However, setting a routine to visit their dad’s grave can help them understand death better and have that connection to their passed father.
How to Support Mourners on Father’s Day
If you know someone who is mourning their dad this Father’s Day, try your best to be there for them. However, you want to be careful about how you support them. Mourners have a lot of stress and pressure on themselves, the last thing we want to do is aggravate those feelings.
Visit Them, Call Them, or Send a Card
Give them a call, listening to your voice can help them know they are not alone in their mourning. Ask to see if you can stop by and visit them to offer your comfort or support. If that is not possible, sending a card or even a text message will show you are thinking of them and are there to support them whenever they feel ready.
If you call, text, or even try to visit, you might get rejected or might not get an answer. Be mindful. Everyone goes through mourning differently. Give them the space they need and respect their decision of being alone this day.
Offer Your Help
Even though you are not a counselor, you can lend a set of ears to listen to their thoughts and feelings. You might also offer your help with the children, with the house, to bring flowers to their dad’s grave, or anything that might make this day less of a struggle for those who mourn.
Do not rush anyone through their grieving process. Be patient, when the time is right they will be ready to continue their mourning. In the meantime, be supportive, be attentive, and be their friend.
Celebrating Father’s Day while mourning his loss might be difficult. Hang on to the things that make you smile about your dad, celebrate Father’s Day by embracing the holiday and honoring your Father’s memory.