When I was 11, my father died in an automobile accident. When each Father's Day came, I would find myself depressed and wondering why other kids still had fathers while I lost mine.
Losing your father can be devastating, especially if you were close to him. You will always miss him, but over the years you will find a way to cope with your loss, and the pain you feel initially with turn into a gentle sadness. He will live on in your memories and in your heart. Every year will bring days when you feel your loss more keenly, such as his birthday, the anniversary of his demise, and of course Father’s Day. Just because he is dead does not mean that you have to stop honoring your dad on this special day. You can start a tradition or find different ways to think of him each year. Here are a few suggestions:
* Write your dad a letter.
Tell him what has been happening in your life. Share family news. Find local, national, or global events that would have been of interest to him. Tell him jokes he would have appreciated. Also write about your feelings. Let him know how much you miss him, how you are coping, or even that you are angry at him for leaving you. This may feel strange and possibly slightly creepy at first, but once you get started you will find that your pen is flying across the paper. For just a few moments you will forget that he will not ever read your lines.
When you are done, you could put the letter in a special box and keep adding a new letter each year. You could also burn the letter and imagine that your words will reach him on a trail of smoke.
*Visit your dad’s grave.
Bring a folding chair or a blanket and sit for a while. Talk to him as if he was still alive. Imagine his answers in your mind. You can leave flowers, maybe a ribbon or a balloon, or a stone if you are Jewish. You could bring a picnic lunch and share it with him by pouring a small quantity onto his grave. Make sure to clean up after yourself when you leave.
* Look at photographs and letters.
This is a wonderful way to tell your children about their grandfather. They may have been too young when he died to remember him very well. If they did know him, encourage them to talk about the pictures and share the things that they remember about him.
* Invite friends and family.
Another good way to share your memories is to invite your dad’s friends to a family gathering. This may be a formal dinner, a backyard barbeque, or an informal get-together with snacks and drinks. Take turns telling stories about your dad. You and the other guests will learn about the impact your dad had on other people’s lives. You will realize that you are not the only person who misses him. Especially if he has not been gone for long, you will be able to share your grief and to gain emotional support.
* Go to your dad’s favorite place.
If your dad had a special place he liked to go to, visit that place. You will feel closer to him, no matter if it is a beach, a cabin in the woods, a park bench, a museum, the opera, or his front porch. Spend some time trying to see the place with his eyes, to figure out what exactly fascinated him about it. Let your mind wander for a while. Think about the things he may have told you about this place. You will go home that evening with a gentle smile on your face.
* Do his favorite thing.
Maybe your dad liked to go fishing. Maybe he loved rodeos. Maybe his passion was musical theater. Maybe he was an artist. Maybe he collected stamps. Spend the day doing whatever it was that gave your dad the most pleasure in life. While it may not be something that you would normally spend your day doing, it will bring you closer to him.
* Have a moment of silence.
Sometime during the day, take a few minutes to stand respectfully, without talking or other distractions. Picture your dad in your mind, think about all the good things he did in life and honor him for them.
Whatever you choose to do on this special day should be something that will help you to focus on your dad and honor his memory. Concentrate on celebrating his life, rather than mourning his death.
Some Father's Day Quotes
My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass." "We're not raising grass," Dad would reply. "We're raising boys." ~Harmon Killebrew
He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it. ~Clarence Budington Kelland
A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty. ~Author Unknown
Father! - to God himself we cannot give a holier name. ~William Wordsworth
Love and fear. Everything the father of a family says must inspire one or the other. ~Joseph Joubert
One father is more than a hundred Schoolemasters. ~George Herbert, Outlandish Proverbs, 1640
Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father! ~Lydia M. Child, Philothea: A Romance, 1836
Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance. ~Ruth E. Renkel
A father carries pictures where his money used to be. ~Author Unknown
The father who would taste the essence of his fatherhood must turn back from the plane of his experience, take with him the fruits of his journey and begin again beside his child, marching step by step over the same old road. ~Angelo Patri
It is much easier to become a father than to be one. ~Kent Nerburn, Letters to My Son: Reflections on Becoming a Man, 1994
The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering-galleries, they are clearly heard at the end and by posterity. ~Jean Paul Richter
Any man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad. ~Author Unknown
The greatest gift I ever had Came from God; I call him Dad!
I love my father as the stars - he's a bright shining example and a happy twinkling in my heart. ~Adabella Radici
Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever. ~Author Unknown
Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes. ~Gloria Naylor
There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. ~John Gregory Brown, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, 1994
There are three stages of a man's life: He believes in Santa Claus, he doesn't believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus. ~Author Unknown
Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope. ~Bill Cosby
When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. ~Mark Twain, "Old Times on the Mississippi" Atlantic Monthly, 1874