Skip to content

6 Ways to Cope with Father's Day if Your Dad Has Passed Away

Coping with Father's Day when Your Dad Has Passed Away

Father's Day can bring on powerful emotions for people who have lost their dads. If the holiday has become a harsh reminder of your grief, these tips can help you view the occasion in a more positive light.

Honor his memory. While some people try to avoid the pain of loss by ignoring Father's Day entirely, this can actually make things worse. Many times, it can be more therapeutic to honor the memory of dad by sharing stories about his life. Gather the family and share stories about dad or grandpa. You can also keep dad's own stories alive for future generations by recording them in a journal. Whether it's a life lesson or colorful tale about a past era, retelling a father's stories can have a healing effect that can be surprisingly therapeutic.

Focus on the good times. It can be difficult to control our thoughts when we are experiencing grief. That said, you should do your best to focus on positive memories instead of memories relating to the circumstances of the death, such as difficult last days in the hospital. If you simply cannot keep your mind from drifting to negative thoughts, give yourself permission to ignore the holiday altogether. In time, you will feel more comfortable allowing yourself to remember the best days with dad when Father's Day rolls around.

Reject expectations. Remember that everyone responds to loss differently. While siblings may appear to have gotten over dad's death faster than you, it doesn't mean you are doing something wrong. This Father's Day, allow yourself to feel whatever emotions arise and don't let other people's opinions or suggestions ruin your day. If you don't feel like participating in dinners or celebratory events, feel free to say no. Don't feel bad about setting boundaries and be patient with yourself during the lengthy healing process.

Pen a letter. Take some time to write some words to your dad. Think about an important life lesson he taught you or recall a favorite memory and then pour your feelings onto the paper. The act of writing about our feelings can have a powerful positive psychological impact. It can also help you feel a soothing connection to a lost loved one.

Do something dad loved. An especially effective way to honor dad is to actually do something on Father's Day. While many people honor a lost father by visiting the cemetery, you should also consider spending the day doing something dad loved. You might visit his favorite restaurant, go fishing or attend a baseball game. Whatever the case, by engaging in the things dad loved, you can honor his life while keeping his memory alive.

Reach out. Grief can be an immensely powerful force that can seriously disrupt our well-being. Although it's perfectly healthy and normal to grieve, things typically get better over time. If you had an especially close relationship with your dad, you may always struggle with difficult emotions when Father's Day arrives. That said, if you experience lingering feelings of guilt, fear, depression or overwhelming sadness, you should consider seeking support from a therapist, who can help you develop healthy coping strategies that honor dad while helping you heal.

Our caring therapists can help you overcome life's greatest challenges. Contact us today!