It is hard to escape holidays in America, almost impossible really, and Father’s Day is no exception. We see the big Father’s Day signs over the greeting card section in the store, the tv commercials of fathers and children playing in the summer sun, and every subject line in our inbox seems to scream “GREAT GIFTS FOR DAD!” If you’ve ever lost your father or if you are a father who has lost a child, your heart may tend to sink this time of year. Like a “Donuts with Dad” day or a daddy-daughter dance at school, Father’s Day can be a jolting reminder of grief. It is another day that highlights the absence of a loved one who died. Somehow socks, ties and BBQ’s just don’t mean the same thing to someone experiencing this type of grief.
At The WARM Place, we encourage families to find meaningful ways to remember their loved one who died. Of course, remembering them is easy. We do it every day. However, missing them is the heartache that never goes away, which is why sometimes we need to take time aside to do something special and pay tribute to the ones we miss.
We asked group members in our children’s groups to tell us how they have paid tribute to their loved ones. Here are some responses:
I go to the “cememtary” and put flowers down on my Dad.” Age 8
“We lit lanterns and watched the lights flicker”. Age 11
“My family released some balloons that went to heaven.” Age 9
“My dad liked “poke chops” and we made some, they were good and yummy.” Age 6
“On a different day we road roller coasters because that is my favorite memory with my Dad”. Age 13
“I drew a picture of my family, dad wore his funny shorts.” Age 10
As you can see, for the grieving, Father’s Day activities look very different than what you may see advertised on a typical greeting card or tv commercial. We may choose to light a candle, visit the gravesite, or listen to a song that reminds us of him. We may simply escape from the rest of the world and take a moment of silence to ourselves. It is how we cope and make Father’s Day a little less painful. It is how we keep our loved one’s memory alive. It is how we pay tribute.
This year, make Father’s Day a day of remembrance. Pick something to do that is special to you and your family. It can be simple. Whatever you choose to do, it will hopefully bring a small piece of healing and hope this holiday. Remember: You are still their child, and you are still a father.