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June 17, 2020 Beyond The Dash

RIP Dad: Getting Through Father's Day When You're Still Grieving

Strategies for coping with a fatherless Father's Day

RIP Dad: Getting Through Father's Day When You're Still Grieving
Father's Day is tough for those whose dad is no longer with us. Learning how to cope with grief can make this and other days brighter. (Getty Images)

Father's Day, Mother's Day, Christmas and other family holidays can be particularly difficult for those still grieving a recent loss. Social media, advertisements and family ties make it hard to ignore your relationship with your dad on this day. 

How to honor your dad — and yourself — this Father's Day

No matter how much time has passed since you lost your dad, Father's Day can be a difficult holiday. Here are some ways you can honor your dad's life this Father's Day.

Remember his life

Remembering loved ones who have passed can be painful, especially in the first year. It's easy to fall in the habit of only remembering the bad. Memories of the hospital, funeral, and family tension might outweigh recollections of time spent with dad. Though this is a normal part of grief, it's healthy to remember the good times, even if those memories are almost too painful to bear. Father's Day may be the perfect time to lean into your grief. 

Celebrate fathers

Even if it is painful to think of other fathers, one way to honor your dad's life is to celebrate other father figures in your life. Let grandads, stepdads, husbands, or other dads in your life know that they are appreciated.

If you don't want to spend Father's Day with others, but wish to celebrate other father figures in your life, consider giving a gift in advance, or planning another day and time to honor them. 

Don't forget about the other awesome dads in your life. Celebrating the living can help you get through loss; but remember to do this on your own timeline. (Getty Images)

Share with others

One of the best ways to celebrate life is to share stories and memories with others. Family, friends and those who knew your father will have stories to share. Talking, remembering and mourning together is good for everyone who wants to be involved, as it allows grieving people to express themselves with others who share the same pain. Reminiscing about your dad is a wonderful way to keep his memory alive. 

Create a memorial

No matter the time that has passed, it's never too late to write a tribute in honor of your father. Even if an obituary was written to announce his death, the notice may not have fully reflected his unique personality, interests and passions, and with the passage of time, you may have other thoughts and feelings you wish to share. 

Tell your dad's life story on Beyond the Dash. It's free to publish online, and there's no limit to how much you can write. Online memorials come with a free guestbook for family and friends to remember your dad, and you can even add photos to create a fuller picture of his incredible life and family. 

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Practice self-care 

It might be the right time to take a break from your normal routine and practice some self-care. Self-care looks different for everyone, but can involve anything that leaves you feeling restored, refreshed and cared for. Exercise, rest, practicing a hobby or simply taking a pause to assess can all be forms of self-care. 

If Father's Day is a tough time for you, it might be a day to indulge. Treat yourself.


There's no need to torture yourself with a Father's Day family gathering if your heart feels like it's in the grave. You may not be ready to talk with others or celebrate Father's Day — and that's 100% okay. Disengaging from emotional pain can actually be a healthy way of coping. It's valid and healthy to know your limits. 

Disengaging from a cultural holiday like Father's Day isn't always easy, so it might help to unplug, and divert your attention to other parts of your life. Maybe next year will be different; maybe it won't. However you spend the day, be kind to yourself. 

'It's complicated'

Though there are many wonderful dads out there, it's not uncommon to have a complicated relationship with your father or father figure. If this is the case for you, Father's Day may have always been a difficult day. Unfortunately, those who have strained parental relationships often face more complicated grief when their mom or dad passes away. 

If Father's Day is extra charged for you, honor your feelings. Don't bury emotions, or try to pretend like you're fine. However you reflect on your dad's life this Father's Day is another step forward in your grief journey, even if it isn't all positive. 

Missing your dad on Father's Day

When you're grieving, there are some days that you just need to get through as best you can. Whether you want to remember and memorialize your dad this Father's Day, or forget about your loss altogether, there's no 'right way' to celebrate a fatherless Father's Day. Giving yourself permission to do it your own way is the greatest way to honor your dad, and yourself, this weeked.  

Your loved one had a remarkable life. Tell their story, and we’ll publish it online for free.

After creating an online memorial, you can also publish in print in any of over 6,000 newspapers across North America.

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