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cak's avatar

How do I get through this Father's Day without my Dad?

Asked by cak (15863points) June 19th, 2009

It’s been a little over 6 months since my father died. Six agonizing months. I’m trying so hard to focus on my husband and not to get too wrapped up in my grief so I don’t ruin the day for him – but I’m having a hard time dealing with this one. (My husband is very understanding, he’s already suggested that we don’t do much this year, to help me get through the day.)

I just want to be able to hug him and tell him Happy Father’s Day – then continue our tradition. A cold beer, together…along with a bratwurst. It’s just something he and I enjoyed doing together.

How do I make it through this one, when all I want to do is cry and hide from the world?

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30 Answers

Saturated_Brain's avatar

Here, I don’t know your father, neither do I know you, but I can tell that if you’ve been grieving a lot for six months, then it must have been a very painful loss. But I’ve got a suggestion, I hope that you’ll take it into consideration.

Early on Father’s Day, before everyone properly wakes up, maybe just when the sun is rising over the horizon, go alone to the cemetery where your father is buried. Bring your beer, bring your bratwurst. Drink it there like you did when he was alive and eat the bratwurst too. Perhaps try talking to him as if he were still alive and after it all, say a prayer for him. If you’re not religious, then maybe conclude by thanking him for the happiness he’s given you.

After that, go and celebrate Father’s Day with your husband and children. Focus on the living, but don’t forget those who are gone.

We all need to move on after loss. I’m sure your father would want you to have a wonderful Father’s Day with your own family, even without him.

Here’s a virtual hug from halfway across the globe. Everyone needs a hug once in a while, and so do you, especially for this time. *hugs

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I was going to suggest something similar as Saturated_Brain mentioned. I don’t suggest completely trying to ignore the pain and loss you’re suffering from, because that will probably make you feel worse. If you may not be able to make it to wherever he was laid to rest, talking to your dad is still a really good idea – even if it’s only in your head if you’re not able to set aside some alone time. Make that bratwurst and drink that beer… There’s nothing wrong with paying tribute to a loved one.

My mom lost her dad when she was eight-years-old. Whenever the Little Drummer Boy is on around Christmastime, she always makes time to watch it, because she remembers watching it with her dad. She’s 53 now and she’s still doing it.

I wish you the best of luck.

bonus's avatar

I have always had a difficult time finding the right words for people who are grieving and, in fact, have, to my deep regret, often avoided doing so. So, here, goes. My dad was never around so I can’t imagine your grief. Really, in effect I never had a dad. So I feel bad for you yet I am happy for you as you had something that meant that much to you with your father. I think you are onto something good, though. Pour yourself into making it special for those who are there. Grieving is important. I have lost two of my best friends; one, when we were both six; the other, when we were both nineteen. Both of them died violently and it was so traumatic that I still grieve decades later. Yet, when time starts to drag and you are ready to move on and stop feeling bad, to keep living your own rich life, losing yourself in something positive can help. I don’t mean to forget but, rather, to begin to shift gears is healthy and can begin the healing process. Don’t worry about Father’s Day. Love your husband and children. If you cry some – or even a lot – it will be okay. You will be with the ones you love. They will be there for you. Only time can truly heal the deepest sorrows.

onesecondregrets's avatar

You realize that more than anything, here on earth or up in heaven that what he wants most from and for you in life is to be happy. Because of this you keep your chin up and a smile on your face for your family now and when it’s time, when you’re alone, you let yourself deal with your pain of losing him and not having him today, if you need to. And that’s when you can spend part of the day with him- thinking of GOOD memories, remembering his laugh or his smile or his jokes and you realize he is still with you for Father’s day, sans a cold one- but you can always crack one open for him, he’ll know, he’ll send you his love when you’re strong and make him proud. Good luck darling, and if you need to talk now, ever, on Father’s day…well yeah.

bythebay's avatar

@cak: I’m so sorry, I really am. I struggled through the first few FD’s without my Dad. It felt unfair and unjust and just plain wrong. Truth be told, it’s still not my favorite day.

After three years I just took a different path. Instead of being sad because I couldn’t honor our standing rituals, I started my own new one. Much like what was suggested above, I start early in the day. I go out for a walk and I “talk” to my Dad, wherever he may be. I tell him whats going on and thank him, and tell him how much I still miss him every single day. As I make my way, I collect things; flowers, shells, etc. I end my walk at the beach, where I sit down and finish the good cry I’ve already begun. I toss the things in the water and I let it all go; the pain, the loss, the sadness. After that, I’m ready to face the day for my husband, kids and father-in-law. I also do this on his birthday.

It’s not the perfect day with my Dad, but it’s doable. Please know your loss will be especially profound as you venture through this series of ‘firsts’. But as new traditions develop and you make it through these tough days, you’ll begin to see that you can manage it. It’s never the same, but it still can be good. Sending you much lurve and (((hugs))).

janbb's avatar

@cak I’m sorry you are in such pain. I agree with the suggestion that you create a ritual and use part of the day for grieving and then the rest of the day for celebrating your husband and the rest of your family. A number of wonderful things happened in my life in the months after my Dad died and while I don’t believe in an afterlife, I felt his love and the joy he would have shared with me at the good things that had happened.

filmfann's avatar

I am sorry for your pain. I can only tell you how I handle Fathers Day myself.
I usually spend a few hours watching home movies. It reminds me of how lucky I was to have a family like I did, and it’s like having a small visit with him.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I have a hard time with Fathers Day, and have since 1981, when my Dad passed away. He died on December 7th. Yeah, while everybody else is remembering Pearl Harbor, I have something else to grieve. I also have a nephew born on that day, talk about weird.

Six months grieving isn’t all that long. With very close family members grief can last much longer than that. I agree with these other jellies, give yourself time, do something special that holds meaning for you, and then celebrate life with the living.

They say time heals all wounds, but that isn’t always true. Some things we just get used to over time. I think dealing with the death of family is harder for atheists than it is for the faithful. Keep your chin up, cry when you feel the need because not dealing with grief is worse than crying at inopportune moments, focus on the living while keeping the departed alive in your heart and your memories, and for this FD, I’m sending you a mega-hug, now 30% more effective than other hugs from the Mega-Hug™ brand of online friends hugs. :-)

susanc's avatar

Dear cak.

If your dad was as good a dad to you as he sounds, he was probably a good father-in-law and a good grandfather, too. I bet everyone misses him, even if you miss him the most. I encourage you to spend some good time alone with your dad in the ways you like, and then let everyone else into your love for him (and their love for you). Honoring your husband’s dadness doesn’t preclude honoring your dad’s dadness. Accept the people who love you; let them join you and carry you this hard year.

cookieman's avatar

This is the first Father’s Day without my dad also (it’s been eight months).

I wish I had some amazing advice to give, but I have no idea myself. Luckily, I am working on Father’s Day, so I’m doing my best to skip it all together (although I’m sure my daughter will be making me a fabulous card). So I’m kind of burying my head in the sand waiting for it to pass. I’m really not ready to deal with it.

I really like @Saturated_Brain‘s idea (and similar suggestions) though.

Best of luck getting through the day. I’ll be thinking about you.

Jude's avatar

The first year is always the hardest; first birthdays without them, Christmas..and Father’s (or Mother’s) Day. My Mom died on May 25th, 2007, so, it was a full year after that we had to go through Mother’s Day. Our family got together and went to the cemetery to release 12 yellow balloons (one from each other us and one for my Mom), Yellow being her favorite colour. We sent them up to the “balloon forest”, so, that “Grandma” could catch them (did this for our niece). The first Mother’s Day, I went and bought a card and wrote something in it for my Mom. I brought it to the cemetery along with some flowers. That was first thing in the morning before the family got together. I had a little “alone time” and a “chat” with my Momma. I think that being with family for the rest of the day helped.

This past year, Mother’s Day was extremely difficult for myself and the rest of my family. I think for all of us the realization that she was gone had finally set in. We all did our own thing. I went the cemetery on my own, brought flowers and had a talk and a good cry.

I know how hard it is. Being with your family on Father’s Day would be best, I think. Surrounding yourself with those you love and who loved your Dad. Being there to support each other and to lean on will help you get through the day.

I’ll be thinking about you on that day, too..

Jude's avatar

@cprevite, I’ll be thinking about you, too..

cak's avatar

@Saturated_Brain thank you That is a wonderful suggestion. My husband has hinted to something like that, but he’s being careful I think as to his suggestions. He’s not sure what I can process and not process right now. It is important for me to be able to show my husband how important he is to us, on Father’s Day and my dad would hate us sitting around crying all day long. It’s pretty hard to do that, sometimes. I really appreciate your suggestion.

@DrasticDreamer – Little Drummer Boy brought a smile to my face, when you mentioned it. It was on my dad’s list of Christmastime things he enjoyed. Thank you for your time and furthering the suggestion about the beer and brat.

@bonus – I’m sorry for the losses you have experienced, I’m learning what an impact this has on life and I really appreciate your thoughts. Knowing how different things could have been, my biological father was murdered when I was young, having my dad (step) come into my life and never once make me feel anything other than like his very own child – I was so damn lucky. Knowing things from your perspective, I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my question.

@onesecondregrets – thank you – I appreciate the offer of an ear! I will be smiling, I’m sure, there are so many happy memories – it just the getting there (to the smiles) seems to be difficult, right now. I know he’s there, but it’s so hard not to be selfish and want that hug.

@bythebay – I think that is it – it’s the firsts. Since he passed, there hasn’t been a month without a notable day. Frankly, it sucks. Next month would have been their anniversary. August is the month without any big dates. August. It’s kind of a sad joke that if we can all make it to August, we’ll be able to catch our breath. I think it’s a wonderful idea that you and others have offered, doing something early or on my own and then celebrating the day with the family. I’m working on the balancing act, I want the happiness and to acknowledge that I miss him dearly, but to be able to keep moving forward. He wouldn’t want it any other way. It really sucks to be human sometimes, doesn’t it?

@janbb – thank you for your answer. There has been something huge that happened since his and he would have been thrilled. I hate he wasn’t here to share in the celebration, but somehow, I think he knows.

@filmfann – That’s a wonderful way to spend some time remembering. I might have to try the movies. So far, it’s been very hard to watch them. My dad got so sick and weak, he didn’t talk a lot in the movies. He didn’t want my children to hear how weak he was. He smiled a lot, but geez…I’d give my eye teeth for 20 seconds of his voice! It might be time to watch one, again.

@evelyns_pet_zebra – Wow, what a profound day for you to grieve your father. A huge day in history, the death of your father and a birth of your nephew. That’s a huge day. I will spend time doing something special and I appreciate something you said. The “time heals all wounds” idea, you are the second person that has said that’s not necessarily true. I appreciate the honesty in that statement. I can’t see a time when it will heal, but maybe a time when I don’t want to cry at the drop of a hat. Thanks for the mega-hug – you’re right…it’s 30% better!

@susanc – You are so right. He was very loved and a great father-in-law and a wonderful grandfather. My husband really misses him, my children talk about him all the time. My daughter and my father had a very close bond. There is 9 years between my children It’s been painful to see her struggle through this, but she is doing it in stages, much like the rest of us. We were lucky to have him for the time we did, it just made us want more time with him. We’ll celebrate, I just want to be able to balance the two enough to make it through the day. Thank you for you answer.

@cprevite Can I work with you? Burying my head in the sand sounds good, for the day! I’m with you, my friend. You know I’m around for you, if you need me.

@jmah – I think what started this was the card. I had my breakdown in Target, at the card section. I realized that I was picking out a card for my father, without thinking about it. Then I lost it. I am not a public emotion kind of person. There I was, card in hand, right leg in a walking cast boot thingy and tears pouring down my face. My husband pretty much scooped me up and got me out of there. I love that you released balloons for your mother. I do think I’ll have the beer and brat for my dad.

@everyone – Thank you all for your time. I hope you do know that what you said helps, a lot. It gives me a way to think about things and know that I’m still on the normal side of things.

Thanks and (((hugs))) to all.

bonus's avatar

@cak I hope I didn’t come off sounding like you should be more grateful for what you had or something. I was just trying to offer some insight as to how I might understand what you are going through. I am especially happy that you can say this was your stepfather. My wife’s stepfather filled the same role for her and, to a large extent, for me. If he were to die, it would be devastating to both of us. Still, I would not be able to truly feel what you are feeling either. You have suffered a much greater loss. I hope you get through all of this with all the continued support from all of us and those around you. I never really turned enough to others during my times of loss and it would have helped a lot. I am wishing you all the best.

Aethelwine's avatar

@cak I’m just here to give you a (((hug))). Knowing you for the short time that I have, I know that you will get through the day. You have many people that care about you and the great advice given here proves that. I’ll be thinking of you.

cookieman's avatar

@cak: We’re having a Strawberry Festival here at the farm on Father’s Day. You’re welcome to come hang out all day. ::hugs::

Saturated_Brain's avatar

@cak It’s no problemo. None at all.

Just know that you have people around you who do care for you. Let us know what happens on Monday eh? My advice is to not go on the net even once on Sunday. Spend it all on dad and family. =)

marinelife's avatar

@cak My heart bleeds for you as you cope with this loss. My own father has been gone now for 30 years and the thought of his loss can still bring a pang. The fierceness of the grief has subsided into gratitude for the gifts he gave me that I see in my life.

The first Father’s Day (and all of the anniversaries the first year brings) is so very hard. Most of all, be kind to yourself. Have no expectations of how you should feel or what you should be able to do. Know that your loved ones especially your husband will understand. Maybe this one Father’s Day your husband could do something just with the kids if you need extra time.

In addition to all the wonderful thoughts above, I will mention a couple of things that have worked for me.

A tradition adapted from Native Americans. Write a letter to your father with all the love and grief in your heart and whatever you need to tell him, then burn the letter. As the smoke ascends into the sky, the communication is going to his spirit.

Days before she died, my sister picked out a funny gift for me (I was going to see her the next week, because she knew the end was near). It was a goofy wrought iron dog candle holder that looked like a cartoon version of my dog. Every year on her birthday I light it and talk to her. (I talk to her other times too, whenever.)

My last bit: honor your memory of your dad on his birthday. That is much more important than the day he died.

I will think of you on Father’s Day. The only way past grief is through it. It’s a lonely walk. Take care of yourself and wrap yourself in the warmth of all those who care for you at home and here.

Likeradar's avatar

No advice Cak, but your post brought me close to tears. I’m thinking about you and @cprevite this weekend.

cak's avatar

@bonus – No! Not at all. I thought your input was wonderful. Knowing a different side of things, it just puts things into perspective, but never once did you make me feel bad or guilty. I thought your answer was very kind and touching. I feel bad when I find out that others didn’t have the chance that I had and it just makes me appreciate my father so much more than I did before. Like everyone else, you really made me feel better about things and somehow, I’ve been able to feel more comfortable about my feelings and dealing with Father’s Day.

@Marina – that is a beautiful tradition. I just read it to my husband and daughter. I started writing things down, but had to stop – this was a few days ago. I was crying too much. I think I want to finish it now. About his birthday, that will be the day where we really honor him. It was a huge day for the family, it’s Christmas Eve. We always got together and had a family party and opened our presents. It was also the day that he had the stroke that led to his death. I know this will always be an important day for the family.

@jonsblond & @Likeradar – thank you for the thoughts :)

@everyone – you’ve helped me more than you know. I’m feeling better about some of my ideas and I feel more “normal” than I did before. Thank you all!

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Let yourself feel or talk about what comes to mind that day and let the people there with you put their arms around you and love you in your sad or nostalgic moments. Let the living share in your emotion because it bonds you further, you’re making memories with them everyday.

It’s been 5yrs since my Grandfather died and he was also a father to me so each holiday is tough and my mother and I usually think of a few things he loved to do on those days, we have our cry and then look around at something he’d be happy about for us. It is what it is.

RedPowerLady's avatar

First I want to say I am so sorry for your loss. And give you some (((Hugs))).

Let yourself grieve. It is okay and since your husband understands then it’ll make it just that much easier for you to not feel any guilt over ruining the day. Tears release endorphins that help us feel better, I always remind myself of that when I am holding back tears.

Include your father in whatever you do that day or find a way to honor him. You can celebrate your father even if he isn’t here in person. Bring his picture when you have a dinner out with hubby and set a place for him as one example. Another possibility is to send him a gift, make a special ritual out of it. Can send by balloon, on the water, burning it through smoke, etc..

Blondesjon's avatar

@cak . . .I am no good at this type of thing but I really think the world of you and would like to give you a hug as well.

<big, giant, squeezy hug>

cak's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence – You are so right, we are making memories everyday. Thank you for reminding me of that simple idea. lurve!

@RedPowerLady – thank you for the hugs – and yes, it is better to release those tears, isn’t it. Somewhere along the line, I decided I had to be the strong one. It’s backfiring, big time. I guess it’s just my time to admit that I’m human and I need to feel the pain. I need to be okay with showing the emotions. I’ve tried to hide them, for my children, but it is okay to show them. We will be including my father in whatever we do…just haven’t pieced it all together, yet.

@Blondesjon – Thank you, my dear friend. :)

Strauss's avatar

@cak I lost my Dad 21 years ago, only weeks before Father’s Day. I remember him often. It was hard at first, knowing he was no longer just a phone call away. But as I realized that, I also realized he was only a thought away, and I can talk to him any time I want, and still do, and have often over these past 21 years. Celebrate his life with the living.

cak's avatar

@Yetanotheruser thank you for your comments – we celebrated with the living, today. :)

@Everyone – Today was filled with love, laughs, tears and hugs. I had a beer for my dad, my husband ate the brat. We all told stories and remembered our favorite things about him. I wrote him a note, placed it under his urn, but he knows what I was saying, without it being read out loud. It wasn’t an easy day, but it wasn’t a miserable day.

He would be proud, we celebrated among the living, and didn’t dwell on things that made us really sad. We had a lot of great laughs.

cookieman's avatar

@cak: Sounds like a good day. Glad you made it through.

cak's avatar

@Saturated_Brain and @cprevite – It was a good day. :)

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