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Missing in Action: Grieving the Loss of Your Father on Father’s Day

Every year on this day we pause to give thanks and gratitude to our Fathers. It is on this day that we stop to spend time with the men who have influenced and shaped our lives the most. Our fathers were there for us from the beginning, and we wouldn’t be here it weren’t for them. It is because of the sacrifices they make that we are here, but what would life be like if they suddenly ceased to exist? Many of us spend the day with our father’s, but how would we celebrate this day if our fathers weren’t there because they’d already passed away. It’s a morbid question, but this is the reality for many people the world over. Father’s Day is usually a joyous day filled with celebration, but it’s a different picture for people who have lost their father. Grief can be felt at various points after a person has died, and Father’s Day in no exception. The grief that resurfaces on Father’s Day can feel much the after shocks that occur after an earthquake. So the question that remains is what do you do about it? How do you prepare for after shock, or a day that can serve as a reminder of the loss? The following are suggestions to help you get through Father’s Day if your dad has passed away.

1. Celebrate: Celebrate your father even if he is gone. The fact that you grieve means that you loved your father, and that doesn’t stop when he passes away. We will always love the people most dear to us, and death doesn’t change that. One of my cousins once wrote us a card and she said, “if there were no grief it would reflect a life that had no meaning or love.” We grieve a loss, and feel it on Father’s Day, because we love our fathers. If this is true, we shouldn’t skip the celebration. Our celebration may look different than others, but that’s okay. It doesn’t have too look the same. There aren’t any rules about the manner in which Father’s Day is to celebrated.

2. Enjoy the Company of Others: If you have lost your dad, don’t spend the day alone. Enjoy the company of other’s, even if you would prefer to be by yourself. In Genesis 2:18 the Lord said “it is not good for man to be alone,” and it is especially true when grief resurfaces. Friends, and family can help mitigate the grief we feel over the loss of our father, and help share in the burden of the loss.

3. Remember: If your Dad is not there to be celebrated take time to pause and remember the man who influenced you in countless ways. This may seem like a pointless thing to say, but some things are easier said than done. We are busy, and consumed with our lives, and sometimes it can be hard to put the button on pause. Father’s Day is a good day to step back, and remember our fathers even if they aren’t with us.

Don’t be surprised if you still feel the after shocks long after your dad’s loss. Waves of grief can be felt at various times, for years and even decades after someone dies. At times, grief can seem more intense, but it will pass in time. Our fathers played one of the biggest roles in our life’s story, and we will continue to love them long after they are gone. Father’s Day can be bittersweet for those that have lost their father, but there is always reason to celebrate and remember even if your father is gone. A person can continue to influence and shape after their departure, and fathers are no exception. It is with that in mind that I close, and wish you a Happy Father’s Day. I hope and pray that this would be helpful if you find yourself struggling to deal with the loss of your father on Father’s Day. Thanks.

-Amanda Nethery