What to Do on Father’s Day When Dad is Deceased
“We can’t celebrate Father’s Day anymore, our Dad has died.” This is such an incorrect statement that I need to tell you about all the exciting prospects that you can partake in on this day – whether or not you have a living father!
Create your own celebration that will be special for the child. Ignoring the day allows for the child to realize something is missing in their life. As the only parent, create an experience that says “We rock – just the way we are!” Create an event or a ritual that can be repeated from year to year that celebrates what you currently have.
I am a child who lost her father at the age of 7. I grew up not celebrating Father’s Day. However my mother put in place events that allowed me to feel normal and to appreciate life. When my dad died just before Halloween, my mother made sure that I still celebrated Halloween in the way that we did every year in our neighborhood. The young woman across the street (who also babysat me) was hired to take me out in my wonderful elaborate costume that my mother forced herself to make even in the shock of my father’s sudden massive heart attack. I still remember that Halloween for being a good time – and its 50 years later!
It is important to create traditions that are meaningful and appropriate for your family. Look for positives and things that are working out right in your lives and in the family and focus on them on this day. If it is hard for you to do this because of a tragedy, keep your mind on the impact you can have on your child by modeling a positive attitude and an understanding of how things can be good.
As someone who helps people with funeral plans, I have spent a lot of time with people who are mourning and with them in their lives afterwards. My own experiences as well as theirs have given me insight into what can help a person be more than just a survivor. These experiences have helped me to see how people can grow and thrive and enjoy their lives to the fullest with rich tradition and healthy attitudes and activities.
If dad has died, you might want to have a special celebration to remember him. Some people wear a white rose for their deceased father on the day. If he is buried in a cemetery or has a place that memorializes him, the family could visit and take flowers. Making his favorite meal and sharing it is another way to remember his memory. The children could also:
· Write a letter to dad
· Create a garden stepping stone with his name on it
· Eat his favorite meal
· Do something that he loved to do on that day: go to a ball game, build a birdhouse, eat hot dogs in the park, go for a bike ride, etc.
Father’s day is about honoring the men in your life that have contributed to your growth, education, happiness and well-being. It does not have to be just about a biological father. Have a dinner for people that have made a difference in your child’s life: have your child/children make dessert, place cards and any other aspects that they enjoy doing.
If dinner doesn’t work for the guest of honor, have a lunch, afternoon BBQ or create a card and deliver it. The card can include a thank you for the things that the child has appreciated from this person throughout the year. One child I know wrote a card and in it drew a Ferris wheel and said “thanks for taking me to the fair”.
On Father’s Day, do something special with the child such as:
· Create a special meal together to celebrate family
· Play a game together
· Go for a trip by car, bus or roller blade! Take a walk through a special area of your city or country.
· Eat ice cream
· Build a thankfulness garden. Plant lettuce, marigolds, tomatoes, peas.
· Make a poster for the fridge that shows the family as it is and says “We rock!”
· Have a special meal that each person contributes to just as each person contributes to the family
· If there is a grandfather, uncle or special friend, invite them to participate
· Make cards for each other in the family. Tell each other what is special about them. (One family I know created this tradition several years ago. The children keep a list of things that they will include in the card for each year).
· Make a card for the mother that does both father and mother duties
· Encourage your child to understand that when there is only one parent, the other parent and family members pick up the roles and then celebrate this fact.
· Don’t be afraid to have balloons, hot dogs, ice cream and even goody bags.
May you have a positive and meaningful father’s day with your family or close friends surrounding you.