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How to cope with grief on Father's Day


When it feels like everyone around you is buying cards, writing Father's Day messages on social media or spending time with parents, how do you cope if you're grieving the loss of your dad? 

Everyone grieves differently and will find different things challenging or comforting. It may be that not all of these suggestions will be helpful for you, but you might find some of them useful.

 

Hands holding a candle

 

1. Be prepared

Whatever your traditions around Father's Day, it's worth thinking about how you feel about it beforehand. You might want to talk to your family about how you're feeling and ask them to be understanding on the day.

2. Hold a space for your dad

It can be tempting to try and pretend that everything's fine and try to avoid all reminders of Father's Day, but sometimes that actually can make us feel worse.

You might find it helpful to think about ways you could remember your dad on the day. Here are some suggestions how you might do that:

  • Raise a glass to your dad over dinner 

  • Share memories, letters or photographs, or set aside some time to look at them alone

  • Do something in honour of your dad. For example, if he loved music, you could get the family together to listen to his favourite songs or have a dance.

  • Take some time to light a candle in his honour

Just because your dad isn't here in a physical sense, it doesn't mean your memories have gone too. It's ok to buy or make a card and write a special message - you could take it somewhere special, perhaps somewhere you associate with your dad. 

If you do buy a card, go prepared! It's ok to be upset in public; be kind to yourself and take someone with you if you would like support. Have tissues to hand and plan yourself a treat too.

 

Walking in the woods

 

3. Take time for you

Sometimes it feels like our emotions take over and that can be scary, but don't forget that there is no right or wrong way to grieve.

It's important to take some time for you - here are our suggestions of how to do that: 

  • Schedule in some downtime. If you have kids, it can feel like there's pressure to do lots on Father's Day. Likewise, if your spouse wants to visit their dad, you might want to be there with them. But don't forget that sometimes you need to take some time for yourself too. 

  • Remember that others who were close to your dad will also be experiencing grief. It may be helpful to talk to them, or simply spend some time together.

  • If you find it helpful, writing about what you're feeling can be very cathartic. Even just taking 10 minutes to put your thoughts on paper can be useful. 

  • Ask for help if you need it.

4. Remember you can't plan for everything

Sometimes it can be the unexpected things like a certain image someone has shared on Facebook, or a gift given to us by our own child, that take us by surprise.

Whatever you decide to do this year, just remember that it's ok to feel sad, and there is no wrong or right way to grieve.  If you are a father, it's Father's Day for you too. Be kind to yourself and try to accept your family's love and kindness - you deserve it.
 

If you'd like to read more advice about coping when someone dies, click here