Jana and Joan Schweizer Hoff talk about navigating Father’s Day while grieving. Joan, a long-time staff member at The Dougy Center, shares both personal and professional experiences in constructing new ways to approach the holiday. Whether you’re grieving the loss of a father, or parenting a child who is, some of these suggestions may be helpful:
Know that for many, the lead up is the worst part.
If you are supporting a grieving child, talk with them ahead of time about what they would like to do or not do.
Let children know that it’s okay to still want to celebrate and it’s okay to not want to celebrate. Don’t force a child to pick another adult to honor, unless that’s something they want to do.
If you are a grieving parent, consider whether and how you want to engage with the holiday - perhaps you recreate a tradition you shared with your child or do something new for yourself.
Come up with a plan - even if that plan is to do nothing. If you do want to do something, consider doing something that connects you with who the person was and what they meant to you.
Consider a social media fast for the day - or - plan what you want to post.
Identify others in your life who feel fatherly - and - it’s okay if you don’t feel this way towards anyone. Don’t pressure yourself to put someone in that role if it feels inconsiderate, impossible, or dishonoring of your father.
Plan something for yourself - hike, brunch with friends, a trip out of town. …. decide what environment you want to be in, knowing that you are likely to run into dads and families.
Get together with others who are grieving.
Focus on a category - say food, movies, activities, color, or music - choose a few from one or all the categories that your dad or child loved. If you don’t know, and many people don’t, go with your best guess or pick the ones you love.