For many people, Father’s Day is a sad reminder of a person they have loved and lost. For others, the day can conjure up memories of fractured relationships, a father they never knew, or for fathers – a child they have lost.
No matter the circumstances, a day that’s dedicated to remembering a loved one will always be tough. If you are searching for ways to look after yourself this Father’s Day, here are our suggestions:
Accept your emotions without shame
As we know, grief is never linear, so don’t feel ashamed of whatever emotions show up on the day. For example, if you didn’t have a strong relationship with your father or father figure, you may feel anger or guilt. Rather than feeling ashamed about these emotions, recognise that these are normal emotions that we all feel on some level. Allow yourself the space to feel them (in all their strange shapes and forms) without shame.
Speak to others with similar lived experiences
You may have a great support system, but you could also speak to people who understand what you’re going through. When you feel ready, you could reach out to an acquaintance who has recently lost a parent, or consider joining a support group.
Have a social media-free day and opt out of marketing communications
It might help to steer clear of your social media on the day. Some brands and businesses also ask if you’d like to ‘opt out’ of brand communications well in advance (so you aren’t targeted with Father’s Day promotions)… so consider doing that, too.
Create your own traditions to remember your loved one
Creating new traditions can be helpful for people who have lost a loved one. You could head out on the day with family or friends, visit the cemetery, or host an intimate family lunch at home filled with all your favourite foods (or your loved one’s favourite foods).
Write a letter
Consider writing a letter to your dad or father figure to process the complexities of what you are feeling. If words aren’t coming easily, you could paint a picture, or draw a sketch. This exercise is about feeling closer and connected with your loved one, so whatever you write on that paper is up to you.
Talk about your dad
If you feel comfortable, talk to your mum, siblings, grandparents or other family members and friends about your dad, and share your favourite memories. If the thought of this is too hard, you can organise an activity to remember them. For example, you may venture out to eat his favourite food alone, visit his favourite place with someone you love, or watch his favourite movie or TV show. Whatever feels right for you.
If you’re not ready yet, try again next year
While it may be helpful to acknowledge the day, if you don’t feel ready, it’s perfectly fine to treat Father’s Day as any other day, or to spend the day alone in bed. The important thing is to do whatever feels right for you. And if Father’s Day rolls around and you’re not ready, you can try again next year, or the year after that. Just remember to be kind to yourself in the process.
Father’s Day can be a tremendously difficult day for so many people. While it’s important to acknowledge the day in a way that feels meaningful to you and your family, remember that it is also perfectly okay to take a step back and treat the day as any other day, especially if your grief is fresh or you’re simply not ready to unpack your feelings yet.
If you are incorporating activities or commemorations into your day, try to remove any pressure or expectations of the day. Don’t feel the need to fill every hour with activities, and know that it’s okay to take things easy. Lastly, remember to be patient and kind to yourself… because you are truly doing the best you can.
Now that you’ve read our recommendations, you may want to read our guide to Unique Ways to Honour a Loved One Who Has Passed Away.