I love you dad_editedFather’s Day is Sunday, June 18th. Reminders seem to be everywhere—in the greeting card aisles at the store, activities that people do with their dads, and friends and family making plans for the special day.

This time of year can be hard for those who have lost their fathers, and for fathers who are grieving a child. Give yourself permission to spend the day in whatever way feels best to you. For some, that might mean participating in family traditions or sharing special memory foods. You could also create new rituals and find new ways to remember and celebrate the life of the person who died.

If you’re with a bereaved dad on Father’s Day, be sure to ask how he is doing; he may decline to talk, but offering to listen is an important gesture in showing your care.

If you’re supporting a bereaved child or teen, make sure you ask directly what might be helpful for him or her. The child or teen may have clear ideas about what will make him or her most comfortable, but he or she may not be able to articulate it without being asked. To recognize that a child, teen, or adult may want to do something on that day as a way to remember is important.

Sometimes the anticipation of the day can be harder than the day itself. It is often helpful to plan ahead for how you want to spend the day. Everyone’s grief is unique, and there is no right or wrong way to do this. Different family members may want to do something things individually and/or something together.

Allow yourself the time and space to acknowledge whatever feelings you may have, and remember that experiencing happiness and moving forward in your life in no way diminishes the love you have for that person.

We encourage you to make time for self-care as you need it. We encourage you to make a plan to honor the person in your life who died, such as watching one of their favorite movies, eating their favorite foods, or visiting a familiar place. We encourage you to start a new tradition with your family if that feels more comfortable to you. Above all, we encourage you to stay flexible enough to change your plans if they don’t feel right to you or your family on the actual day.

This is just one day of the year, but you carry your loss with you year-round. You don’t have to pressure yourself to make this day fit into some kind of mold of what it “should” be. You are the expert on your own grief.

If you would like to share memories or ideas for remembering your special person, you’re invited to connect with us on Facebook.