Critter Corner: When Father’s Day Isn’t a Joyful Occasion

Dear Oakley,

When I flip through Facebook, walk into the greeting card aisle at the store, or turn on the TV, I see advertisements and cards for a happy Father’s Day. I lost my dad a few years ago and my husband and dad of our three children last year, and Father’s Day can be especially hard for me. What are some tips for handling grief on a day when most people are celebrating?

Missy Ng-Himm

Dear Missy,

I’m so sorry to hear about your losses.

When Father’s Day reminds you of a loving father or husband who died, the day can be especially difficult. Hopefully these tips will help make the day more bearable.

Tips for Coping on Father’s Day

Holidays, including Father’s Day, can be painful for surviving children regardless of their age. Some choose to ignore the holiday entirely, while others plan something special to honor the lost parent or loved one. Neither way is right or wrong and is entirely up to the individual. These are some things you can consider doing:

  • If you anticipate that the day will be difficult, plan some ways to bring calmness to your body and mind. Deep breathing, meditation, and yoga are great ways to stay relaxed during tough moments.
  • Focus on the good times. See the blessings you have today that have transpired out of what was lost.
  • Some people choose to talk about the lost parent or loved one and share happy memories about him.
  • Some turn Father’s Day into a day of positivity by prioritizing mental health, participating in relaxing activities (such as massage, swimming, acupuncture, etc.) and not expecting to have a perfect day.
  • Some consider spending time with others. Social support can be a great way to feel connected and to share memories with others. Whether you plan a meaningful activity with people who are also grieving or just spend time with those who care about you, being with others can reduce loneliness and feelings of isolation.

Whether the day happens shortly after the loss or months or years later, emotions are likely to be more pronounced if you’re still grieving. Remember, you do not have to force yourself to be happy. It’s important to recognize the loss. It’s okay to grieve.

Sometimes, grief is too difficult to handle alone. If grief-related feelings and responses don’t lessen over time, reach out to a grief therapist who can help you process the loss and work through the grief.

For tips and resources on grieving, please read Evan’s recent article “Creative and Nontraditional Ways to Process Grief and Find Peace.” Hope this is helpful.

Thinking of you!


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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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