Father’s Day can be a challenging day for those who have experienced the death of their fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles, ‘Just-Like-Dad’s’ or children. It becomes even more overwhelming when you come across Father’s Day displays in shops, receive numerous emails asking if you want to opt out of Father’s Day, or get targeted social media ads with Father’s Day gift ideas. These difficult reminders can be hard when you’re grieving.

Here are some suggestions to help you cope with the emotions that arise on Father’s Day:

Plan: Grief can hit unexpectedly, so it can be beneficial to anticipate the day and how specific events might make you feel. Consider what you would like to do, whether that’s having a relaxed day watching a movie that reminds you of your special person or staying busy by spending time with friends and family. Knowing what works best for you and having a plan in place can help you navigate the day more smoothly.

Share: Take the opportunity to reflect on and share cherished memories. Engage in conversations with friends and family, write in a journal, or create a memory box. Sharing stories and memories helps to continue the bond you had with the person who has died and keep the relationship alive.

Remember: Whilst some people may have newer grief from a recent bereavement, others will have carried their grief for a long time, and still feel as though no time has passed. No matter the length of time, grief is enduring and not linear. Take the time to remember, no matter how long it has been since that someone special died.  

Permission: Relationships are not one-size-fits-all, and it is ok to give yourself permission to feel however you want about your Father, whether that is with happiness or anger, or even fear. You have permission to reflect on your own relationship, and what that meant to you, and also not be influenced by others on how you are ‘expected’ or ‘supposed’ to feel.

Traditions: Think about establishing new traditions or rituals to honour that person’s memory. Lighting a candle, enjoying their favourite meal, visiting a place that reminds you of them, spending time at their grave, or engaging in an activity they enjoyed can all be meaningful ways to keep their memory alive too.

Switch Off: On Father’s Day, your social media feed may be filled with difficult posts from others. These types of posts can trigger unsettling emotions such as grief, longing, jealousy, sadness, and anger. Remember that it’s okay to feel this way. If viewing others’ posts becomes overwhelming, it’s okay to take a break. Consider turning off your phone or temporarily deleting social media apps for the day.

Support: Reach out to your support network, including family, friends, or a bereavement charity, such as Grief Encounter. Connecting with others who understand the experience of grief can provide a sense of belonging. Sharing your feelings and experiences with those who have gone through a similar experience can lessen the feeling of isolation. Our national helpline is open 9am – 9pm every weekday for listening support, guidance, and professional advice to help you through whatever you may be feeling about your grief.

Self-Care: Above all, be kind to yourself. Acknowledge and accept your emotions during this time, whether it’s sadness, anger, happiness, nostalgia, or confusion. Allow yourself to feel and express these emotions without judgment. Keep in mind that navigating your grief on Father’s Day may unfold differently than expected, and that whatever you feel is valid, and allowed. Remember to practice self-care and do whatever YOU need to do.