How To: Survive Father's Day
I'm three weeks away from my 6th fatherless Father's Day and I'm already anxious. I'm wondering how five years could have already passed without him (apparently the world didn't actually stop when he did...?). I'm wondering how to hide my huge cloud of sorrow when everyone else seems to be celebrating. I'm wondering if the powerful ice cream lobby is secretly responsible for this holiday, since I've definitely noticed a spike in sales, in my own freezer anyway.
Whether you're missing your father or father figure, just remember that even though this may be hard, you're not alone. Many of us are dreading Father's Day just as much as you are. You're in excellent company if this holiday or any other one is a cause of stress, sadness, or anger. Or ice cream. And this is why it's so important to find ways to care for yourself during Father's Day and beyond, because the holidays aren't going to stop, and the grief is never fully going to go away, but it can be turned into something meaningful, if you'll let it (I'm not talking about a sundae, though, that's an option too).
STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA
If the barrage of "best dad evers!!!!" and smiling family photos leaves you feeling resentful or maybe crying into a pint of ice cream (or two, we don't judge here), simply allow yourself permission to skip the whole thing. Log off and instead do something that lightens your day. Take a hike, treat yourself to a favorite restaurant, or finally binge watch that show you've been meaning to start (pro tip: this is generally not the time for that family sit-com or drama or basically anything else involving a father in the plot, though I highly recommend This Is Us - streaming on Hulu! - if you want a truly poignant family story of loss and love). It can be so easy to focus on what is missing, so instead fill this day with all the joys you still do have.
CONNECT WITH OTHERS
You probably aren't the only one missing him and remembering him and mourning him. Call your siblings or mother or his parents or those friends who considered him like their second father and share stories, memories, and honest feelings. This is the perfect day to talk about him ad nauseam. And remember that you probably aren't the only one missing a father either. Email the other fatherless people in your life (of which I assure you, there may be many - a lot of people just don't talk about it) and send a really bad joke or a thoughtful note, and let them know that you understand how hard Father's Day can be, and encourage them to do something special for themselves, too. Maybe send them this list of suggestions, or a pint of ice cream.
CELEBRATE HIM ANYWAY
Real talk: Father's Day never claimed it was exclusively for living fathers, I checked. So write him a card, sharing with him everything you've wished you could have told him over the past year. Make his favorite meal, and eat it with someone you love - maybe that person is yourself. Create an itemized list thanking him for everything he did for you. Plant a tree in his honor, and plan to visit it next year, and the one after that as well. Write a heroic song celebrating how even time and death don't end love. Singing abilities not required. Give a donation to his favorite charity and let them know that the world is forever changed because of his absence, and so you're going to do your part to try to change the world in his memory.
And most importantly, continue to take care of yourself, whatever form that takes. He would have wanted that for you.
P.S. This post is not sponsored by Big Ice Cream, but if someone knows how to make that happen, definitely let me know. I'll need to stock up for the the next holiday.