According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 64.3 million fathers will be showered with cards, well wishes and gifts this Father's Day. However, only 72 percent of Americans celebrate the day.
The remaining 28 percent will not be celebrating because their fathers are deceased or they do not have a relationship with their dad. In either case, this Father's Day could be an emotional day for those who are "fatherless."
A Chicago psychiatrist said, "losing a parent is one of the most stressful things you’ll experience in your lifetime."
Last year, more than 95 million Father’s Day cards were given to the number one man in the family. But, what do you do if you are "fatherless?"
If you are feeling the blues this Father’s Day, here are some things you can try to shift your mood:
1. Find support
• Talk with other family members and friends about your loss.
• If funds are low, look for a community bereavement group. Many churches offer this type of group free of charge.
• Arrange for a therapist appointment on Saturday or Monday (the day before or after Father’s Day) to discuss your feelings and emotions.
• Look for bereavement support groups online. However, use caution when using these sites. Sometimes pranksters or Internet "trolls" visit these sites and can cause unwanted melee.
2. Celebrate the day in memory of your dad and treasure your memories.
• Reflect on your favorite memories of your dad. Discuss those memories with family and friends.
• Look at old photos and remember the best of times. Talk about one of the funniest moments with your dad.
• The key is to celebrate the good times and memories . If a bad memory enters your mind, consider forgiving your dad. Remember he was only human and he did his best.
Consider doing a small ritual in memory of your dad. Go to church or visit your dad’s gravesite. If he was cremated, you can buy and throw flowers where his ashes are spread. If it feels right, consider making it a yearly event.
According to the website of Dr. Wendy M. Schwartz, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Beverly Hills, Calif., "Creating small rituals is a good way to heal after loss; they assist in establishing spiritual meaning and allow you to respond in a purposeful way to a significant change in your life."
Also, you can go to your dad’s favorite restaurant or prepare his favorite meal in his memory. You can also play a round of golf at his favorite course or participate in his favorite outdoor activity (baseball game, bike ride, hike, etc.)
3. Be good to yourself and do something special for you.
• Plant a tree or start a small garden. You can also add a plaque with his name. Some local libraries and parks sell "in memory" bricks. Consider making the purchase. Depending on the organization, it may be tax deductible.
• Use the day to compile a scrapbook or memory box of your favorite memories. Include old photos or items you may have saved.
• Go to the bookstore or thrift shop and purchase a journal. Use this journal to write down your feelings and favorite moments with your dad. Also, write a letter to your dad telling him how you feel.
• Don’t beat yourself up if you cry or become emotional. Be patient with yourself and your feelings. The process of grief has many layers.
By embracing and welcoming your grief, you are allowing yourself to heal. If you deny your grief, you may later develop feelings of guilt, anger and hate.
If you have a young child who has lost a parent, Father’s Day may be a good opportunity to discuss the child’s feelings, death and their father. The National Institutes of Health offers a 14-page publication called "How to Talk to Children about Death." http://www.cc.nih.gov/ccc/patient_education/pepubs/childeath.pdf The publication also offers additional books for parents and children who are coping with death.
Your feelings of grief can be your highway to transformation. Just remember to bring tissues or your dad’s old hanky on your journey through the slow windy road of grief. This journey will ultimately become easier.
Reviewed June 16, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton