Coping with grief on Father's Day

Father's Day can be a difficult day for many people to cope with as there are constant reminders in shops or on adverts which can trigger many difficult feelings. Bianca Neumann, Head of Bereavement, shares advice on how to cope with grief on Father’s Day.

Image of a Dad holding hands with a child

Don’t be ashamed of your emotions

Grief isn't linear and some days can be better, or worse, than others. On a day like Father’s Day, when people will likely take to social media to show others how they’re celebrating, a whole range of feelings, which are totally normal, can come up for those who’ve been bereaved.

When it comes to losing a parent, feelings of jealousy, envy, anger as well as sadness are very common, but not everyone talks about them openly.

These feelings often get pushed aside, and the remaining feeling is that of guilt or shame, as an inner voice labels these feelings as ‘bad’ when they are normal.

Instead of trying to push these feelings away, you allow yourself to experience these emotions and eventually they will fade.

Talk about your father

Although your dad might be gone, you can still take celebrate how much they mean to you and to talk about memories with loved ones.

Grief can feel very isolating, but it is likely that other people around you are feeling the loss of your dad too or have been through a similar situation. Talk about your dad with others, light a candle in his memory, or do something with a loved one that reminds you of him.

Focus on the happy memories

During times of sadness and grief, it can be easy to focus on the negatives, regrets and “what ifs”. Although it may be difficult, it’s important to focus on the time you had with your dad and to remember how special that time was for both of you.

Write a letter

It can sometimes be helpful to write your thoughts and feelings down to fully articulate what they are, as it can help our brains to process them and make us feel closer to loved ones who have passed away.

Sometimes getting our feelings out on paper can help us to process the complex emotions we are feeling. Writing a letter to your dad may feel strange, but it's a way of validating your emotions and feeling closer to him, even though he is not there with you.

Attend a support group

Being around a community of people who understand how you’re feeling can make a world of difference when it comes to managing grief.

When you are grieving, you may find comfort in talking to others in a similar position. This could be a friend who has also lost a parent, or you could consider joining a support group where you will find that many other people are experiencing the exact same feelings as you.

With many Coronavirus restrictions still in place, these communities are no longer just in-persona and can be found online and when needed. Sue Ryder has an Online Bereavement Community where you can chat to others who understand.

Ignore that it’s Father’s Day

If the day is too much of a struggle and you’re feeling too raw to be able to manage, it is perfectly OK to not engage and distract yourself.

Take the day off social media and do things that make you happy – maybe that’s baking, watching something on Netflix, going on a walk or simply having a lazy day.

Check in on friends who may be vulnerable

If you know someone who struggles with Father's Day or has recently lost their dad, it’s important to check in on them.

Consider sending them a token to let them know you’re thinking of them - a card, care package or some flowers can all show a person that they’re not alone on such a difficult day.

This advice has also appeared on The Independent website and the MSN website.

Online Bereavement Support

If you need help or support, Sue Ryder's free Online Bereavement Support makes it easy to connect with what is right for you - whether that's information and resources, qualified counsellors or an Online Community with others who have similar experiences.

Bianca Neumann, Head of Bereavement at Sue Ryder

Head of Bereavement

Bianca Neumann