When Father's Day is a Mixed Bag
Some people celebrate Father’s Day: parents who can be with their children either in person, by phone, or electronically; children (even adult kids) who can call or visit their fathers; or even people about to become fathers. These are the happy times that greeting cards were made for.
But what do people do when Father’s Day evokes sadness and loss due to death, estrangement, or any other reason? It may be hard for them to get through the day or they might feel societal pressure to “get over it” (which isn’t possible) and join the fun.
For me, it’s a mixed bag.
I’ll be honest; I still miss my Dad even though he’s been gone for decades. We had a very special relationship. He died of cancer the same month I turned 22, yet he has continued to inspire me all my life. To the left is a photo of me in his arms.
I also feel sad that my son, who died 7 years ago at age 26, never got to be a father. I know that was part of his future plans, so I think about what kind of father he would have been and the joy I’d have had experiencing that.
At the same time, it’s so delightful watching my sons-in-law parent! They are all extraordinary men, each in his own way. They are loving fathers to my amazing grandchildren, and I feel so grateful to have them in our lives.
And of course I love how important fatherhood and grandfatherhood is to my husband! It literally rocks his world and makes me proud and emotional at the same time.
I’ve come to recognize that there are many ways to experience a day like this and it doesn’t have to be all one way or another. A part of me is sad about certain things while another part is grateful for others.
I have learned to use the word “observe” instead of “celebrate” because it takes into account so many varied feelings and circumstances. I try to observe days like Father’s Day in ways that are meaningful to me and my loved ones, without getting caught up in the “shoulds.”
Are you observing Father’s Day this year? If so, what’s it like for you? Feel free to reply to me below.
If you'd like to read more, here are three blogs that offer thoughts on holiday grief:
www.modernloss.com; www.aftertalk.com; and www.whatsyourgrief.com. I hope you find these links useful.
Wishing you health and peace,
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Essays on Grief Resilience