Surviving Father’s Day Without a Dad

Father’s Day is being celebrated today in many ways; families paying tribute to all the dads living and deceased, biological or not, grandfathers, uncles, stepdads, and boyfriends.  All this focus on the importance of family can fill the heart with gratitude, and sometimes expose the grief of loss.  While others are planning golf outings and backyard barbecues, it can be difficult for those who have lost their father, are estranged from their dad, or never knew him. 

As we grow older, it is expected that we will eventually experience the loss of a parent, and sometimes although our mother or father is still alive, dementia has claimed much of who they once were.  Relationships with parents are often complicated by tensions and histories of abuse or neglect.  

If you are in the group of people who are not celebrating Father’s Day, you can help yourself float through the day more easily by practicing some self-care, getting outside in nature if possible, and absolutely staying off social media that will be flooded with images of fathers and families.  Connecting with others who are also fatherless can be comforting; consider reaching out to a sibling or friend experiencing the loss of a father or father-figure. 

For those who wish to pay tribute to their father, the day can be honored by preparing dad’s favorite meal, writing memories and thoughts in a journal, visiting a burial site, planting a tree or bush, or looking at family photos.  It can be a sad day but Father’s Day can also be an opportunity to remember the good, the funny, even the annoying bits about dad and sharing a laugh with those we love. 

Individuals who never had a present father can take this day to remember and celebrate all the mothers and grandparents who helped fill the void and take on the responsibilities and roles of both parents.  In almost every situation, there is room for gratitude; and with a positive mindset, even the most difficult days can be met with appreciation.