Father’s Day is another one of the splendid celebrations of the summer. It’s a great reason to fire up the grill, gather your family, and celebrate our fathers, grandfathers, and the other special father figures in our lives. We show our dads their special place in our hearts in many ways: giving cards and gifts; taking over some of their chores; or, waiting on them the whole weekend.

However it is spent, a celebration of family can be painful when it relies solely on the memory of the fathers we lost and the fathers we didn’t get a chance to know. A day centered on a specific person can be difficult without them there. A child without their father can feel especially vulnerable, similar to a father missing their child on this day. Even without their children, they are still fathers, but grief can make that a messy title to wear this time of year.

Taking the time to create new traditions to memorialize those we have lost gives us another chance to bring our loved ones closer together. Although it may be especially difficult when the loss is fresh, remembering can also be a positive step towards healing.  Take this day to collect everyone’s memories. Call your loved ones and write down their favorite memory to create a beautiful keepsake book, toast with their favorite drink, retell their favorite story or joke.  Let a memory be your celebration. If you are missing your child, reflect on how you cherished and celebrated them and tell the story of their lives.

If you didn’t have a chance to know your dad, take today to honor your chosen family. Is there someone that became a father figure to you? Make sure they know. Sending a Father’s Day card to your mentor, cousin, uncle, or neighbor who gave you love and support is a kind gesture they will treasure.

Families are not “one size fits all.” It’s okay for our celebrations to grow and change, as long as they are continuously centered on those that we love.

For those who may need extra grief support this Father’s Day, please see the video below from grief counselor, Janice McCarthy, talking about grief around this very holiday.

Jan McCarthy, MSW, LSW
Grief Therapist