Father’s Day takes on an entirely different meaning for those whose Dads have passed away. When your Dad has died, Father’s Day can be a painful time. Clearly, it’s difficult to celebrate Father’s Day in the same way as you did before if your Dad is no longer here. For those whose Dads have died getting through Father’s Day cannot only be sad but also confusing. What do you do for Father’s Day if your Dad has died?
Ignoring Father’s Day might be easiest for now – If the loss of your Dad is recent, and this is your first Father’s Day without him, you may find it easiest to just ignore Father’s Day altogether. Don’t feel guilty if this seems like the easiest way to get through this Father’s Day. Remind yourself that there will be many more Father’s Days to come, and if you choose to create a new Father’s Day ritual, you can begin next year if you feel comfortable doing so. It’s difficult and painful to get used to the fact that you cannot call your Dad to wish him a happy Father’s Day, go shopping for his Father’s Day gift, or meet up with him for a Father’s Day meal. Give yourself a break, and time to adjust to this new reality. If you need to refrain from acknowledging Father’s Day completely this year, don’t feel badly about it.
If you want to, hold onto any traditions that you can – If your Dad has died, it might be most comforting to you to continue on with any traditions possible. If you and your Dad always ate at his favorite restaurant, spent the day fishing, or barbecued with family at home, consider doing the same things on your own, or with others to whom your Dad was close. You may find that continuing to do the familiar things that you and your Dad previously did together for Father’s Day helps make it easier for you to face the holiday.
Start a new Father’s Day tradition – For a lot of people, the death of their Dad means significant changes in their own lives. As you continue to move through your grief and the permanence of your Dad’s absence that each new day brings, you will have to find new ways to remember the life you spent with your Dad. Starting a new Father’s Day tradition is one way to do this. You might want to visit his grave, start a scrapbook of his life that you can work on every Father’s Day to come, or watch home movies of him. Starting a new Father’s Day tradition after your Dad has died can help you to gain some comfort in the fact that you are still finding ways to incorporate him into your life.
If it helps, focus on the other “Dads” in your life – After your Dad has died, it might help to spend some time communicating with other father figures in your life on Father’s Day. You may have a stepfather, or a father-in-law who would like to help you move through your grief, but doesn’t know what to offer. Spending time with these individuals may be comforting as you face this Father’s Day without your Dad.