This Sunday in Australia is Father’s Day. For some the day means little, but to many it means a lot. It means they are reminded of the importance their Dad plays in their life. It means they can acknowledge all that their Dad has done for them and the times he has been there for them. It is a time to focus on Dads and how special they truly are.
It sounds good doesn’t it. No! Not if your Dad has died and the day brings an ache to your heart and a reminder of the gaping hole in your life. Each day, not only in Australia, but all over the world, our Dads are dying: in accidents, to suicide, at war, by acts of violence and from illness. There are many families who will wake up this Sunday morning to the acute absence of their husband/partner and father in their lives.
If this will be you and your family this year, I want to share with you my 3 Top Tips for giving the day meaning, even though their physical presence is absent:
Write a Card
Children love to be creative. Nurture that in them, as well as yourself, and prepare a card or note for Dad. Address it to the invisible place he now lives and share with him why you love him and will continue too. Decorate it, fill it up to the brim with your love and then post it. Prepare a special box for Dad, make it Dad’s very own and cut out a slot, as a post box would be. This will be an ongoing ritual and there can be one or many letters and cards posted here for Dad in the days, weeks and months to come.
I don’t know of any Dads who don’t like good food and plenty of it. Prepare a special meal this Father’s Day. Get out those recipe books and pick out the ones you know Dad loved. Involve your family. Have them help in the cooking or get them to select a recipe that they immediately associate with him. Make it a blessed feast full of love and family connection. Buy a notebook and name it “Dad’s Favourite Recipes”. Start this year with the first and build on for each family occasion, compiling a wonderful memory and keepsake for all to share.
This might sound backwards but you won’t be giving a gift to Dad this year you will be receiving it. Go out a buy a small gift for yourself, and your children. Make sure you have sufficient wrapping paper and gift cards for everyone that you want to receive a present. Once the children are asleep in bed, or if you are alone, give yourself 30 minutes of down time, some quiet time with a pen and some paper. Imagine that you are your husband/partner or the father of your children. These gifts have been choosen by you but they are from him. Think about what he would say to each of you, which words would he would use, what would he like you to know. Don’t overthink it, just go with the flow and write. Transcribe the message for each one of you onto the gift card and put them in a basket to open during the feast. He is now part of your day in so many ways and always will be.
These grief rituals are a key part in helping to deal with the devastating impact of grief and allow healing in ways that honour our loved ones keeping them in our life always.