I’ve posted this article the last couple of years, hoping it will be helpful if you are having a hard time with Father’s Day. Feel free to email me if you want to share your feelings.
Maybe as you’ve watched the TV commercials or passed by the card aisle at Target, you’ve felt a pain in your gut about Father’s Day. All the sentimental words, and happy pictures of fathers and children hugging and playing may bring you sorrow. Families can be complicated, and the holidays sometimes make for particular difficulty.
Grieving on Father’s Day
Grief can come of course because your father has died. He was precious to you and you still feel his presence and sometimes you still hear his voice and the way he always told you he didn’t want to give too much advice . . . It is normal to feel grief even if his death was long ago.
But it may be that you feel grief because the relationship wasn’t what you wish it was. Or maybe he’s still living and the relationship has been strained for so long that you feel hardened about it — except when you feel that stab of pain, and you know you’re still tender from the wound.
Know that you are not alone if this holiday is difficult for you
Unfortunately, many people feel pain on holidays. Consider doing some things to help you face the pain and manage those difficult emotions.
If your father has died, maybe set aside some time to honor him by writing down favorite memories. Share those thoughts with others — the saying is true: sharing multiplies goodness and joy, and it divides sorrow, making it easier to bear. Write a letter thanking him for what he did for you and tell him you still love him.
If your relationship is strained or if your father is missing from your life, maybe this is a time to be kind to yourself. Do something for you that you wish your father would have done for you. Think of your strengths and your good qualities, and yes, go ahead and name those and applaud yourself for these gifts. Love yourself, it really is OK!
Is there someone you can show love to? Even if you haven’t received love like you wanted to, you can still give it.
Some people try to make amends on holidays
The emotion of holidays sometimes awakens resolve to work at healing broken relationships. If you decide to do this, be mindful of a couple of things:
1. If you decide to forgive him of something he has not asked forgiveness for, it may be received as an attack. Maybe try to forgive him in your heart if things are not in the right place for a conversation.
2. If you decide on a face-to-face conversation, be aware of your expectations. Expectations are not always met, so go into it with openness, but with knowledge that the only person you can control is you. We can experience great peace by making efforts toward reconciliation even if they are not met with the response we would wish for. We have at least tried with an open heart.
If your efforts at forgiving or at conversation with your estranged father do not turn out like you hoped, I hope you can be glad you made the effort. Look for a friend who will support you and encourage you.
This Father’s Day may be a great day for you and your father, or for you and the memories of your father. If so, enjoy!
If not, remember that you are not alone.