Reston Hospital Center - June 10, 2019

Families all over the world celebrate and honor dads on Father’s Day. But for those who have lost their father, the day can be full of painful reminders. Between advertising, stories in the media, and the celebrations of friends and families, it can be hard to escape your sadness.

Healthy coping strategies can help. Read on to find out how.

Don’t ignore your feelings

It’s important to let yourself grieve. Whether you’re feeling lonely, sad, angry, or something else, give yourself permission to feel your emotions. All feelings of grief are normal, even if it’s been years since your loss. Acknowledge your feelings and name them. Ignoring feelings can lead to increasing stress, tension, anxiety, depression and other serious consequences.

Keep in mind that it’s okay to set boundaries with others. If you’re not feeling up to celebrating, don’t feel bad about saying no. Don’t let others’ expectations wreck the day.

5 Tips for a happier Father’s Day

  • Remember the good times. Try not to focus on memories associated with Dad’s death, such as the funeral or days in the hospital. Instead, remember the good times you spent with him. Recall lessons he taught you or a fun trip you took together. If possible, share memories with your siblings, your children or a friend who knew him.
  • Honor him. Take your good memories a step further by doing something Dad loved to do. You may feel closer to him if you watch a movie he loved, cook his favorite meal, or visit a place that made him happy.
  • Donate your time. It feels good to help others. Volunteering at a hospital, retirement home, or shelter can be rewarding.
  • Create a Father’s Day ritual. Light a candle, visit the cemetery or donate to a charity in his name.

If you’re struggling to work through your grief, consider reaching out to a member of clergy, a grief counselor, or local support group.