A day without Dad: Father’s Day when you’re grieving

We wanted to share some advice on facing Father’s Day and the feelings associated with it when you’ve lost your dad.

“We know that being bereaved at any time of year can be difficult. However, it’s anniversaries and milestones that can sometimes hammer home feelings that may otherwise remain under the surface.

Greeting cards, TV and social media can remind us how others are feeling on Father’s Day. Happiness. Celebration. Creating memories. But if you’ve lost your father or you’re a father who’s lost a child, you might not be spending the day celebrating like many other people. Instead, Father’s Day can be a sudden reminder of your grief.

When you’ve lost your father

As Father’s Day approaches, lots of people make plans to spend time with their dad or father figure. For those who are lucky enough to still have their loved ones in their life, it can be a great day. But if your father has died, the day can be very difficult.

Father’s Day can bring up a lot of feelings, losing your dad or father figure is one of the most emotional experiences you can go through. It doesn’t matter when in your life it happens, it can still be incredibly hard.

If you’re struggling with grief this Father’s Day, remember that you’re not alone. Here are some things you can do to help make coping with the day a little easier.

  • Consider making a memory box. Compiling your memories in a memory box can be a therapeutic way to remember your loved one.
  • Take some quiet time. Make time for some peace and quiet. Don’t force your thoughts or emotions. Just observe them, letting them come and go as they will. Let yourself enjoy a moment of peace.
  • Write a letter. Take the time to write some words to your father. Think about a favourite time, recall an important life lesson he left you with. Pour out your feelings on paper or in front of the computer and be honest about everything you’re feeling.
  • Pay tribute. Do an activity your dad loved. Eat his favourite meal. Visit that special place you used to go to together. Remembering times spent together can help you cope with the day.

When you’ve lost a child

Losing a child is one of the most devastating types of losses anyone can experience. No parent expects to outlive their children. It feels unnatural and wrong. Grieving the loss of a child is an experience that colours the rest of a parent’s life. You can’t escape it and on days like Father’s Day, the grief may seem too much to handle. Time won’t heal the hurt, but it will become more bearable.

For a father, facing Father’s Day after the loss of a child can be extremely upsetting. This is especially true when the loss is new, but the pain of the day may continue year after year. If you’re grieving the loss of your child, here are some tips to help you get through the day.

  • Spend time with your kids. If you have other children, spend the day with them. It may hurt to be with them and without the child you have lost, but finding joy in the children still with you is a powerful way to cope with those negative emotions of loss.
  • Surround yourself with loved ones. You may want to hide away and be alone but resist the urge. Spending time with people who care about you will be more helpful.
  • Keep busy. Living in a state of distraction from your grief is not necessarily healthy, but on difficult days like Father’s Day, it can help.
  • Remember you’re still a father. Just because you’ve lost a child doesn’t mean that you’re not still a father to them. Never forget that. You are your child’s father forever. 

Treasure good memories

Fathers play an irreplaceable role in life. If you had a good dad, then Father’s Day can be sorrowful and maybe even bittersweet as you remember good times. If you had a more difficult relationship, the day can bring up feelings of loneliness and sadness. Or if you’re a father suffering the loss of a child, it can amplify those feelings of loss and bereavement.

Focus on what your father meant to you and what you learnt from him. What is your father’s legacy? Why was he important to you? And remember, Father’s Day is a special day for celebrating and remembering fathers, grandfathers and others, whether they’re living or not. Take advantage of the day.”

Useful Services and information:  

During a lengthy illness, following the funeral, or sometimes long after the death of a loved one grief may become more than you are able to handle. There are services and support which can help you through this time.

Anyone whose loved one was cared for by the Martlets is very welcome to make contact with our Bereavement Service by calling 01273 273400 or emailing bereavement@martlets.org.uk

  • Winston’s Wish has a wealth of resources and advice on how to support your child through bereavement. This is whilst also dealing with your own grief. They also have a freephone helpline you can call on 08088 020 021 
  • Childhood Bereavement UK supports families and educates professionals when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying. They also support when a child is facing bereavement. 


Published 08/06/2018