Father’s Day without Dad

This Father’s Day you may be among the millions of Americans who face the bittersweet reality of celebrating a father who has passed away.

Holidays of this sort are especially poignant the first year after a death.

Whether your father was a protector, a fun buddy, or a stern judge, his passing has great symbolic meaning. With his death, you have lost the ability to resolve any unfinished dynamics. There may be things you wish you had said or wish you had done together.

This Father’s Day, consider these options for acknowledging the man you called “Dad.”

  • Cook a meal in his honor. What were Dad’s favorite foods? Create a meal and invite each guest to offer a toast to your father.
  • Plant a tree or sponsor a bench in his name. Returning to this spot each year can be a great way to acknowledge the place he had in your life and heart.
  • Get a Father’s Day card and write what you would like to have said to him. Or write it on a biodegradable helium balloon that you can release to the sky.
  • Go over old photographs, especially with the next generation, and share stories and special memories.
  • Visit his gravesite. Bring flowers. Perhaps read a poem or tell a story. These days you can even record your visit via smartphone video and post on Facebook!
  • Take a father figure to lunch. Is there someone else in your life you look up to as a role model? Take him to lunch and rekindle that relationship.
  • Honor a lonely father. Many older men are isolated. Contact a nursing home, senior center, or church to ask if you can visit and brighten the life of another dad.
  • Ask yourself, “What would Dad do?” and go do it with gusto!