Losing a father can be devastating, and celebrating Father’s Day can be bittersweet, especially for those of us who have lost our dads. Sadly, I’ll admit I am a member of this club too, having lost my own wonderful dad to lung cancer many years ago. Additionally, my daughter’s father tragically passed away when she was just a baby, leaving me to bravely and creatively find ways to honor and keep the memory alive of the father she never met.
I am sure that many of you feel the same way, but what I wouldn’t do to do to share just one more smile, laugh, or “I love you” with either of these amazing dads that I was blessed to have in my life. Dads certainly plan an essential role in our lives. They are ordinary men turned by love into fearless and playful superheroes. They love us unconditionally with love so genuine that they never expect anything in return for all the kind, supporting beautiful things that they do for us. Dads are amazing because they are our protectors. They hug us when we are sad. They show us how to navigate the tough times. Their laps make the best couches. They sneak downstairs late at night with us to share a bowl of ice-cream over talk, even after our mothers have warned us “no dessert and to go to bed.” They share giggles, stories, and games. They are our teachers, wise and knowledgeable. And when they are no longer with us, the void is impossible to fill.
On Father’s Day, many of our friends will be able to Facetime or Zoom call their fathers to celebrate this important day. The lucky ones will be able to visit their dads face to face, share a card or a thoughtful gift, and maybe even a meal together. But just because your father is no longer with you doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate the day by honoring their memory. Remembering can make us feel better, more connected, and it allows us to celebrate beautiful memories and experience positive feelings related to those that have passed on.
Here are some ways to celebrate those terrific dads who are with us in spirit.
Write Your Dad a Letter: Is there anything you want to tell your dad? Perhaps, it is something you wished you had said while he was still alive or maybe, it is something that has happened since his passing that you have been longing to tell him. Writing a letter is a great way to express your emotions in a positive, meaningful way.
Connect with Family and Friends Who Loved Your Dad: Spending the day with others who loved your dad is a great way to honor his memory. If your dad loved having a bar-b-q, why not get the family together for one and share stories and memories. If your dad loved hiking, why not go for a hike with those who loved him. Gathering with others during difficult days is a great way to offer you the emotion you need on what is likely a difficult day.
**Make a Scrapbook or Photo Album: ** Spend the day taking a trip down memory lane. You likely have many photos on a camera or your smartphone waiting to be downloaded into an album or scrapbook. Sorting through old photos is a sure way to make you smile and bring back beautiful memories of your dad.
**Cook Your Dad’s Favorite Meal: ** Perhaps, it seems like forever since you cooked your dad’s favorite meal. What did he love a nice steak? Or a special meal only you had the recipe to? Why not honor your dad this year by cooking up some of his favorite dishes? Cooking can be relaxing, and putting the time, effort, and love into something he enjoyed so much can make you feel closer to him at a time when you are missing him.
Heal by Helping: Sharing your time with others in need today can be a great way to honor your dad. If your dad was in a nursing home, why not deliver donuts or a special treat to the dads there. If your dad was involved with charity work, why not honor him by sharing your time this week or financially donating to his favorite cause. Ask yourself if you know of any dads you know who might have experienced loss themselves and might be feeling lonely today. Reach out to them and connect. The power of healing found in simple gestures of kindness often goes understated. If you have the opportunity to find ways to be helpful to others in your community, reach out and do so in your dad’s memory.
Remember, to grieve is to love. Feeling sad or feeling lonely is a normal part of the grieving process. Finding the strength to take the time to honor your dad and celebrate your memories on Father’s Day is a beautiful opportunity to discover sources of power that you may not have known were available to you. So this Father’s Day, let us remember all those dads no longer with us, who spent their lifetime cheering us on!
Dads – we remember you – and we honor you on this special day!