Tips for coping with grief on Father’s Day

Grieving the loss of your father or father figure can make Father’s Day a harrowing experience. While the build-up doesn’t seem to be as overwhelming as the advertising of flowers, happiness and chocolates of Mother’s Day, the pain is no less. The world may be going on around you, but you can feel isolated in your pain – even more so with the current social distancing and lockdown.

Young woman sat in an armchair looking out of the window

Here are some suggestions to help you to navigate your grief and remember your Dad your way this Father’s Day.

Let it be OK to cry because you miss your Dad. Then do something really nice. Our tears help to release some of the emotional pain. But try not to keep your focus on the fact that he is no longer alive as this can hold you in no man’s land and block out all the wonderful things in your Dad’s life.

Have a special hour in the day that’s just between you and your Dad. Look at old photos or perhaps write a letter to him. Imagine if you could have one more conversation with your Dad – what would you ask him and what things would you like to tell him?

Take your time, be really honest – no-one else will read this unless you want to share it. Put it all down in your letter. Decorate if you like. Follow your instincts and trust the process.

Do something that you used to do together, or do an activity that your Dad enjoyed doing or indulge in a hobby of his.

Finding new ways of connecting with those we have lost by allowing ourselves to remember all the shared moments, will keep them a part of our life in the present.

Take a walk in nature. This is always a wonderful way to clear your head and open yourself up. Also, the rhythm of your feet as they land upon the earth can be therapeutic just on its own.

Reach out to your family and also to friends of your Dad and share your memories. Take turns to speak about your favourite, funniest, most memorable memory. Or even just say why you are the person you are today because of things your Dad taught you. This will remind you of all the wonderful things in his life and you can focus on how your world is a much better place because of your Dad.

Allowing yourself to walk through these activities in the depth of your loss will bring you into communion with his spirit and will give you a feeling of closeness.

Plant a flower, create a special area in your garden that you can add to. June is a lovely time of year. Tend to your little plot and watch as it grows. Throughout the year, look for beautiful stones and pebbles or lovely twigs. You can decorate the stones and edge your plot with them. This will give you a good ‘Dad activity’ not just on the actual day, but the whole year through.

Young girls laughing together

Crack open your Dad’s favourite tipple and raise a toast to him. Invite your family and friends to share and do the same for him.

Light a candle by a favourite photograph. Lighting a candle is a powerful and sacred act. It brings light into our moments of darkness and creates a hallowedness.

Dedicate something to your Dad. A piece of your work, your next uni assignment, some volunteer time, a poem. Be creative and find whatever works for you.

When we are grieving there is no right or wrong there is only what we find as an individual that helps to salve the pain of our loss and we have to do what is right for us to find our way through. It actually matters not a jot what anyone else thinks or says. Be confident in your loss and trust how it makes you feel. This is how we reduce some of its weight.

When someone we love dies, our physical relationship with that person ends on the day of the funeral, but our emotional relationship with them continues until the day we die. Finding new ways of connecting with those we have lost by allowing ourselves to remember all the shared moments, will keep them a part of our life in the present.

Our best monument to the loss of anyone we love is to recognise their special qualities and emulate all those things we admired and loved best about them. And when we find ourselves being and doing these things, we then know that we never really lose anyone, they walk beside us wherever we are, whatever we are doing.

Everyone we love becomes a part of us and even though we may not be able to keep everyone forever, we will always have the life and memories we shared and made with them. These are the fruits of our grief.

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Written by Lianna Champ
Lianna Champ has over 40 years’ experience in grief counselling and funeral care and is author of practical guide, How to Grieve Like A Champ.
Written by Lianna Champ
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