Father’s Day can be very difficult for those grieving the loss of a beloved parent.
How do you hold space and inspire families as a funeral director during this emotional time of year?
Below, you’ll find some ideas for moving through grief and honoring Dads to share with the families you support during this Father’s Day season:
1. Give yourself permission to feel and grieve
In order to remember and celebrate our loved ones, we must allow ourselves to fully feel our emotions surrounding their absence. There may be pain, joy, anger, deep sadness, humor, and longing. It’s more than ok to let these emotions wash over you and experience the depth of your loss.
Create a container for yourself to feel your feelings – maybe that is a bath or a long walk, time alone with your journal or a conversation with someone you trust.
2. Make a playlist of dad’s favorite music
We all have that one song that always makes us think of our dads. Maybe it’s the one he would sing along with in the car, or use to make you laugh when you needed cheering up. Take some time to make a playlist of his favorite music along with songs that remind you of him; songs you would love to share with him now.
3. Write him a letter
There can be a lot left unsaid when a loved one passes away. If they’ve been gone for a while, there’s probably so much about your life you would love for them to know. So what can you do? Write a letter to your Dad – tell him everything your heart needs him to hear. You can talk about your accomplishments along with the hard times too. Introduce him to the new people in your life, and share as if he was right there with you. Tell him how much you miss him, or even how angry you are that he is gone. You can say whatever you need to in this letter, it’s just between you and Dad.
4. Let him write a letter to you
Letter writing works both ways! Address a letter to yourself and see what your Father wants to say to you. Start with your imagination and write what you wish to hear. As you write you may be surprised at what starts to comes out!
Writing is a powerful tool for connecting with our departed loved ones, they often have messages that flow through us onto the page. When you’re done, sign it from your Dad and read it back to yourself. Know that this is his spirit coming to be with you.
5. Plant or find a tree to be with
There is a beautiful Darren Aronofsky film about love and death called “The Fountain.” As a young woman dies, she asks her husband to plant a tree over her grave so she can become the tree and he can visit her.
Trees have wise spirits which makes being in their presence incredibly therapeutic. You can plant a tree in your father’s honor so you have a special one to remember him by, or take a walk in a beautiful park or forested area and find trees that want to be with you. Take time to breathe in their wisdom, give them a hug, sit nestled in their roots and be held.
6. Celebrate the other dads in your life
There’s lots of ways to connect with dads on Father’s Day. Reach out to your family and friends who are parents and see if they would like to spend time together.
You can also consider who else in your life has been a great caretaker for you. Maybe another family member or a close friend that has “Dad vibes”. Take time to honor them and the support you receive. Write them a card or send a message to tell them what they mean to you. Notice how much love and care you are surrounded by!
7. Be in community
While you’re reaching out to your support network you’ll start to notice how important it is to be in community. This can mean gathering everyone for a celebration or finding one to attend. Consider volunteering and making community connections this time of year. There’s always events available to you to be a part of. You can offer your time and talents, or simply show up as a guest. What communities are you a part of already?
8. Have a meal with dad
So many family memories are centered around the meals we share together. Bring your family (both biological and chosen) together and share a meal in your father’s honor. Cook his favorite dishes, tell your favorite stories of him. If you feel inspired to do so, you can set a place for him and dish him up a plate. He’ll be there in spirit, enjoying the food and conversation too!
9. Tell dad jokes
Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon? Great food, no atmosphere.
Every father had at least one groan worthy “Dad Joke” in his repertoire. While you’re gathered together remembering dad, don’t forget to remember his humor, laughter and love of bad puns.
10. Get into nature and have a campfire
Family camping trips are often where dads shine. From the car ride singalongs to the perfect marshmallow toasting campfire, going camping is a summer tradition that often comes along with Father’s Day. If you enjoy camping and nature, you can take a trip in honor of dad. Go to his favorite campground, spend time with loved ones reminiscing. Build a big campfire and go searching for a special stick to toss in.
Sit by the fire with each person holding on to their stick. One by one go around telling a special memory or a wish you have for dad, infusing it into the wood. After you’ve told your story, toss the stick into the fire. Together, you’re offering his memory and your wishes into this fire which is bringing you warmth and comfort. Remember that our loved ones are always with us as long as we keep their spirit alive in our hearts.
What are your favorite ways to celebrate Dads? Share them in the comments below!