Celebrating any holiday without a parent is challenging but Father’s Day when your father is gone, well that’s an entirely different kind of hurt, pain and longing. While my experience is with losing my mother, each year people write and ask for ideas to honor their fathers too. This is for every person who has lost their father. I hope these ideas are helpful.
Write him a letter. Write him a card. Write him. Tell him your thoughts and your emotion. Tell him your pain, your worries, and your fears. Tell him your success, your joy, and your happiness. Tell him all of the things you wish he was here to experience beside you.
Then, keep the letters in a special place and read them each year. Chances are you’ll see growth, strength, and grit in your continued living.
Now, Father’s Day gifts are left to flowers on a grave or a memorial markers at a special resting place. There isn’t the need to shop for presents for the greatest man you’ve known. Instead, take that money and spread the love. Go out into the world and pay for the coffee of a stranger. Pay for the person behind you in the drive-through line. Give a larger and more generous tip to your waiter. Prepay for a round of golf at a local golf course. And each time you spread kindness, tell them it’s in memory of your one-of-a-kind father.
Spread kindness in honor of your father in any capacity. You’ll make people smile and you’ll get the chance to tell people about him.
Dedicate time to visit him– whether that is a special place, a memorial garden or his grave. Take time to be with him and though it looks different than you planned and extremely different than you ever wished, it is still meaningful and you’re still embracing the father-daughter connection.
Don’t have a space to visit? Sit with his picture. Light a candle. Find a space that feels right for you. He is always with you, like a shadow, so any place you pick is the right one.
Carry on doing the things he loved. Carry on enjoying all of the things he enjoyed. Visit his favorite park, fishing spot or golf course. Dine at his favorite restaurant. Engage in the activities he loved. Think of what he would spend his time doing, and do that. It will keep his memory alive and allow you to tell your family, children and others the things she found joy in.
Try to find joy in the things he loved. Carry on with all of his favorite things.
Look up— or left or right, just pay attention. Ask him for signs that he is still with you, even from eternity. Then pay close attention. Maybe it will be a song. Maybe it will be a bird or a cloud or a butterfly. Simply ask him to show up and then see how he does.
But also, if you don’t find the signs you’re looking for, it doesn’t mean he wasn’t sending others that passed you right by.
For some this day will be too overwhelming to celebrate with others and that’s ok. For you– relax, retreat and replenish. Be patient with yourself and be intentional about planning time to just be. Take a breath. Meditate. Pray. Read. Go for a walk. Do something to self-soothe. It’s different for each person. The goal is to find time to breathe, relax and rest.
Seek things that bring you comfort and calmness. It’s ok to request alone time. It’s ok to decline invitations. It’s ok to do what makes you the most at peace. Honor your needs today.
Can’t look back because it hurts too bad but also don’t want to remain still? Create new traditions. Find new ways to celebrate this day and the father that you were blessed to be raised by. Craft this day to your needs, hopes, and wishes for the future. There is no better time than now to make traditions that suit your heart’s capabilities for this sensitive day.
Decide what you want Father’s Day to look like now and then make it happen. Be sure to share your ideas with others so they know what you expect on this delicate day. Don’t be afraid to tell others what you don’t want, what you do want, and that sometimes you don’t know which is which. Advocate for your healing and your joy.
Happy Father’s Day to all of the daughters and sons of a father gone too soon.
A wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.