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Coping with Grief on Father’s Day

Posted on June 6th, 2024

On occasions like Father’s Day, it can feel like everyone is busying themselves buying cards and presents and making plans to spend time with parents and family – but if your father or an important paternal influence in your life has passed away, this can serve as a sharp reminder of your loss, whether you lost them recently or a long time ago. Equally, if you’ve experienced a devastating loss of a child, any occasion publicly and loudly celebrating parenthood can at times prove almost too painful to bear, for men, of course, as well as for women.

Whatever kind of relationship you have with your Dad, grandfather, stepfather (or your own experiences of fatherhood) as with any loss, and at any time, you have the right to grieve in the way that is right for you – and Father’s Day is no exception.

It’s tempting in a time of bereavement to want to ‘skip’ these kinds of events completely, and while this is a completely valid response, ignoring your pain or trying to suppress it can often have the opposite of the desired effect and make you feel worse.

Coming together with family or friends who, like you, knew and loved the man you lost can be a fitting way to mark this occasion meaningfully, and give an opportunity to express how you’re feeling with those that will understand, if you wish to. While your father may no longer be with you in a physical sense, this doesn’t mean the memories of time spent with him in life are gone. Perhaps Father’s Day is an opportunity to honour and remember your Dad in a way that’s personal to you and your loved ones – raising a glass of his favourite beer at a local pub, enjoying his prized record collection together, sharing memories and stories, visiting his place of rest or talking a walk in nature as a family.

Spending time with your own children, or nieces and nephews, if you have them, can also bring a great deal of comfort; a beautiful, if bittersweet, physical reminder and representation of a legacy that will continue for years to come.

It’s also more than ok if you wish to take time just for yourself, at any time of grief, but particularly on a day like Father’s Day which can be wrought with painful reminders of someone you’re missing. Making space and time to feel and work through your emotions in solitude, sometimes, can be exactly what you need to still the noise. The form your quiet reflection takes, once again, is completely up to you… perhaps you wish to buy a card and write a note, letter, or message of love to express how much you miss the man you’ve lost. Maybe you can prepare and cook yourself a meal he enjoyed or watch his favourite sitcoms or films.

There are also so many reasons why you may wish to treat Father’s Day as much as possible as a ‘normal’ day – many of us have or had a difficult, strained or complicated relationship with our fathers, parents or family members – but it’s important to check in with yourself and review that this urge to actively avoid, or ignore, the occasion is for the best of reasons.

No matter whether you’ve lost a parent, a child, or someone else close to you, grief is a complex emotion that can come not only with sadness, but often with anger, guilt, shame, regret and more. None of these feelings are bad or shameful, but are often better felt, expressed and worked through rather than continually pushed away or ‘squashed’.

However, distracting yourself throughout the day, taking a break from social media and doing things that make you happy may be just what you need.

We know very well from our own experience that talking about difficult topics surrounding death, loss and grief can be a healing or cathartic process – helping to turn a negative experience into positivity for the future – and occasions like Father’s Day may provide that ideal opportunity to talk about how you’re feeling with someone you trust.

If you’ve lost a father figure, or someone else, and are looking for some guidance with funeral planning – or simply what steps you need to take next – remember, we are here to help. Reach out to our friendly, compassionate team whenever you need us either on 01206 862 963 or by emailing info@freedomfunerals.co.uk