Grief and Father’s Day

The first year in any loss is a year of learning about who you are while in the throes of your grieving process. Everyone grieves differently! No one grieves the way you do.

It is never easy to lose a parent. When you lose a father you lose a sense of yourself as the child who related to the role your father played in your life. Across all age boundaries, when we are with our fathers we are still his child. The role of the patriarch is a powerful one. Collectively we have all had a father, whether we knew him or not. The role your father played in your life not only affects how you grieve but how you live.

The role that your father played in your life is different than the role you may have needed or expected.  If your father was loving, and modeled behavior that you wanted to reflect in your own life, that was a personal gift that he gave you. Yet, if he could not be the father you needed him to be, lacking integrity or purpose or simply was not there either in spirit or in body, then the magnitude of this loss can be even greater.

Survival Tips For Grieving Your Father

  1. Plan for the day. Even if you believe that the day will not have an impact on you, don’t risk it. Reach out to friends and family. You don’t have to go it alone! Even if that is your typical MO, this is an opportunity to do things differently!
  2. Letters to My Father. Write him a letter or get a Father’s Day card and write a note to him. This could begin a ritual that you do for yourself every Father’s Day.
  3. In Memory of Him  If you are able to look at pictures, take out one or two of them that fill you with joy. Tell a story that reflects what your father meant to you. Wear a color that he liked.
  4. Estranged Relationship  What that relationship taught you and how you have used what you learned to better yourself. How do you love yourself differently than the way he loved you? What different choices did you make because of the tension? Own your growth and differences.
  5. Be Good To YOU!  Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise and take care of your soul by listening and breathing. Remember to breathe!


Tips When for Fathers Grieving the Loss of a Child

  1. Be Proactive in Healing  Therapy is often helpful to sort out the intense emotions associated to your grief. Anger and regret are emotions that like to take up space in your world. Individual or group therapy help to calm the forceful nature of  the emotions. “Compassionate Friends” is an organization that can help to make you feel less alone in your grief. Healing occurs when you reach out for help.
  2. Consider a “Turning Your Grief Into Grace Cruise” and Meet a Different You   This is self help meets seIf knowledge. Meet others who are dealing with grief. Meet the you who was taught to keep emotions internalized and keep that “stiff upper lip”. Let the “lip” go! It is time to understand that this is an opportunity to touch part of you that has remained hidden and it may be a gift to you from your child.
  3. Get to Balance At times you will feel overwhelmed with emotions and at other times you will feel distant from them. On a piece of paper draw two circles. Put a dot in the middle of both circles. The dot is you. The two circles represent your relationship to your emotions before and after the loss.  Write down the emotions that you were the closet to before the loss and the emotions you are now closet to now. What differences do you see? What can you learn about you and your potent emotions.
  4. Letters to my Child When a child dies the part of you that was a parent to that child does not have to die. The way you hold them in your heart will always be alive. Honor that part of you. Write your child a letter sharing your thoughts or your life with them. The conversation with them does not have to die.
  5. Pay their Lives Forward  What did your child love to do? Were they into sports or the arts or were they the light in your soul? Take who they were to you and share aspects of them by giving of yourself. If they were young and died without having developed their own sense of self, donate time in their name as a way of keeping their spirit alive.

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