The first year after a loss special days can feel particularly painful and this year covid has made everything even harder than usual.  So how do you support your dad, if this messed-up-by-covid-year is his first Father’s Day without your mom?   

It can be tempting to put on your best “cheerleader face” and try to chivvy him through his grief but it’s not the time for that, this is a day to do what dad wants.   Dad is half of the team that brought you into being and he couldn’t have become your dad without your mom so now that she’s gone it’s natural for him to think of her on this day that celebrates parenting.

This Father’s Day show dad that you’re there to support him.

Let him reminisce if he wants to.

Let him tell stories about your mom (or anyone and anything else)  if he wants to.

Let him ignore all things emotional… if he wants to.   

It’s his day.

A year of covid restrictions has worn on all of us but it has been a particularly hard year for grievers.   Without the usual community supports of funerals, visitations, rituals and connection many grievers feel unbearably lost and lonely.

Ask your dad what he misses most about about the days before mom died and the days before covid commandeered our lives.   Listen closely to his answers.  There may be small things you can do that he would appreciate deeply.   Maybe he misses having someone to watch TV with, do a crossword with, or talk to.   It’s often these little things, which can seem inconsequential to us, that give the most relief and pleasure to grievers.

Father’s Day is a day to celebrate, support and be there for your dad in whatever ways might be meaningful to him, it’s not a day to bully him into putting on a happy face.  (Though supporting him by putting on a happy face is perfect if that’s the way He wants to play it…)

You know your dad.  Maybe he’s a crier, or a talker, or a drinker… maybe he’s a grumpy old coot who’s hard to be with.   Whatever he is, step into his shoes for the day and do what he would like. Whether it’s sharing a story and a tear, or a hug and a meal, or listening on the phone because covid means you can’t be together, this is Dad’s day, let him know that you care.

Written by Catherine Mitchell, Certified Grief Recovery Specialist serving the Durham Region.