Mother’s Day has come and gone. Usually, I find myself looking forward to Father’s Day. It’s a chance to celebrate my husband for helping me raise such beautiful boys and to tell my Daddy- thank you. However, this year is really different. This will be the first Father’s Day without my Daddy. Sadly, we lost him in June of last year, only 4 days after Father’s Day. I’m so grateful for that last Father’s Day. I still have the text I sent him that morning. I never knew that would be the last Father’s Day text that I would send to him. I’m trying to mentally prepare this year because I know it will be really hard. Here are some tips to survive Father’s Day without your Dad (or so I have been told.) We are in this together, my friends.
Disclaimer– I am not a doctor or a mental health professional. These are ideas that have helped me to find motivation while depressed, these tips may or may not work for you. If you are having a hard time dealing with depression you should talk to your doctor or mental health provider. If you are having thoughts about death or suicide call 911, a hotline, or mental health provider.
“He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” -Clarence Budington Kelland
Tips to Survive Father’s Day Without Your Dad
Have a Plan
I have struggled with anxiety and depression for many years, and I have learned the importance of having a plan. When you are reeling from feeling out of control, having a thought out plan can really give you a feeling of being in control.
Get out of town or stay in town, the choice is yours. Think about whether you want to get together with family or if you would rather spend the day alone with Hulu. Would you be interested in doing an activity that reminds you of your Dad? Or would you rather not? No matter what you decide, it is up to you and your personal needs. Do what works best for you. Also, keep in mind that what you need your first Father’s Day without your Dad might change the next year. It might change every year. No matter what, do what works best for you.
However, it is essential to remember that you still need to be kind and honor the Father of your children. I say this without judgment because this is something I am struggling with myself. I want my husband to feel honored and special because this is his day too. He shouldn’t be ignored because my Daddy is gone, and, frankly, my Dad wouldn’t want that either. He had mad love and respect for other Dads. There will have to be grace given to us both on this holiday, especially this first year without my Daddy.
Ignore the Calendar
This tip is HUGE! Honestly, it is also one that I struggle with personally. For me, the anticipation of the days leading up to an event that I know will trigger my anxiety is just as difficult if not more than the actual day. So maybe we should try to ignore the calendar and try not to count down the days. However, I know this is easier said than done.
Start your self-care strategies early and let them extend as far past Father’s Day as you need them to. Again, this all goes back to doing what you need for yourself and your family.
Distance Yourself From (Or Embrace) Social Media
This tip comes down to personal preference. If you don’t want to constantly be reminded what day it is, I recommend avoiding social media. Everywhere you look on social media will be filled with pictures, quotes, and personal stories about Dads. Keep this in mind and do what you need to do for you.
Don’t Set High Expectations
Be aware that your feelings will probably be all over the place, and that is entirely ok. Don’t set your expectations for the day too high. Allow yourself to be flexible and go with whatever you need to get through the day.
Carry on Traditions
I know that traditions are significant in my family and that my Daddy would want us to keep them going. For example, we use to write down what we are thankful for each year, and then we would read it the following year. This was something he loved to do, and it is such an excellent reminder to stay humble and grateful for what you have.
Celebrate and Remember Your Daddy
I know that for me, I do little things every day to celebrate or remember my Daddy. However, Father’s Day is a perfect opportunity to start a new tradition or to do something special for your Daddy on this challenging day.
Here are some examples of how you can celebrate and honor your Daddy for Father’s Day:
- Give a gift to another family member (giving always makes me feel better)
- Host a family meal to honor your Daddy
- Do your Dad’s favorite activity
- Write your Daddy a letter
- Visit his grave
- Look at old photos and tell your children about your memories
- Go to your Dad’s favorite place (my Daddy loved the mountains of New Mexico)
- Moment of silence
Talk About Him
Do not be afraid to reach out to friends and loved ones. In fact, it might be helpful to reach out to those that loved and adored your Dad too. You could sit down, have a cup of tea, and talk about your Dad. Sharing memories about your loved one might really be beneficial.
It is always lovely to be reminded that others miss your Dad, too, and have fond memories of him. I know I love hearing stories about my Dad from before I “knew” him.
Avoid Needless Triggers
Do your best to avoid needless triggers. For example, I know that once June rolls around (sometimes earlier), I start receiving tons of promotional emails about Father’s Day. I usually try to delete them right away or set it up to where anything with the keyword “Father’s Day” gets sent to another folder, and I won’t even have to see it.
I like the idea of booking a massage or mani/pedi for Father’s Day this year. Do whatever will help you stay calm and centered. Here are some more great self-care ideas for Father’s Day:
- Go for a walk or run
- Buy you some new sheets and take an afternoon nap
- Go to a movie alone or with your kids
- Read your favorite book
- Take a bubble bath
Be Easy on Yourself and Be Self Aware
Don’t be so hard on yourself. It is ok to admit that you are having difficulties, and it is entirely understandable to be beyond sad on Father’s Day. Be easy on yourself and ask for extra support and love if you need to.
However, please be self-aware. If what you are feeling is worse than “having a rough day,” do not keep to yourself. Be self-aware and ask for help when you need it. Here is a site that can help you find a support group in your area.
I just want to extend my thoughts and prayers to everyone out there that is hurting this Father’s Day (every Father’s Day). I am so sorry for your loss, and I know these tips to survive Father’s Day without your Dad aren’t some magical solution to end your pain. Honestly, I do not have high hopes for my first Father’s Day without my Daddy. However, we must find what works best for us. Take care of yourself, because that is one thing I know for sure. Our Dads would want us to be happy and smile.
“A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.” -Author Unknown
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31