Losing a father or father figure
Father’s Day is a time to celebrate dads and everything they mean to us. But if you’re suffering from the loss of a father or father figure, it can be an incredibly tough experience to go through.
For many people, a father or father figure may represent strength, stability, security and support. Maybe they were a great source of humour, joy or wisdom – a mentor and role model. The flip side of a father’s aura of strength and dependability means it might be hard to get close to him in an emotional sense. But whatever the nature of your relationship, a father figure is likely to have a huge impact on your life, shaping your choices and informing your character.
So, when a father dies, the hole that leaves in our lives can hollow us out and leave us feeling an enormous range of emotions. For some, that can vary from deep sadness to vulnerability, and even a sense of unfinished business, depending on the nature of our relationship and the circumstances of their passing. Father’s Day can bring old feelings back to the surface and amplify those that are already there.
GreenAcres is here to help. We understand how overwhelming Father’s Day can be, so this blog offers some advice on how you can cope.
Remember, your feelings are normal
People lose their loved ones in different phases of their lives and no matter how expected or unexpected the death is – it hurts.
When you’re grieving the loss of a father or father figure, your feelings are likely to change from one moment to the next. You may feel shock one day and anger the next – or you may experience these emotions within hours of each other. However you’re feeling, you must be kind to yourself and remember that this is completely normal.
Supressing these emotions and avoiding your grief is likely to prolong the pain. Embrace your feelings as best you can and try not to be too hard on yourself when you’re feeling particularly emotional around Father’s Day.
Find a fitting memorial
Sometimes finding the right memorial for your loved one can be soothing. Some people find peace in visiting the memorial, whether it’s just sitting nearby and reading a book, spending time keeping your memorial neat and tidy, or simply reflecting on happy memories. Talking can help too – whether you’re sharing what’s on your mind with your loved one or having a chat with someone else who is visiting or working at the Park.
Everyone’s feelings, needs and wishes are unique, and everybody’s bereavement journey is different. Places like GreenAcres recognise this and support you to plan and create the perfect service, burial and lasting memorial for you and your family.
At GreenAcres, we can help you find the perfect memorial to your loved one. Our friendly and knowledgeable team are on hand to support you with creating a fitting tribute that you can visit and reflect on precious memories for years to come.
Sometimes revisiting memories and talking about the person you’ve lost can help you along your bereavement journey.
You may find comfort from going through old photographs from when your dad was young. There are bound to be many parts of his life you didn’t know about, which can help you to understand more about his experiences and the life he lived. There’ll also be certain objects that evoke special memories of your dad, which you can keep and cherish forever.
It can also help to visit your dad’s grave or memorial on Father’s Day. While this is a personal choice, many people find comfort from visiting their loved one’s resting spot and tending to their grave – even if just for an hour or two.
Write a letter
If you find it hard to articulate your grief, particularly around Father’s Day, it can be a helpful and cathartic experience to write your feelings down in a letter to your father. You may find this helps bring you closer to your dad. It can also help you make sense of complex emotions, bringing a sense of peace and comfort to guide you through this difficult time.
If you long to be closer to your dad again, you could try reading out your letter to him, imagining he’s there with you. Tell him you’re with him and you love him. It may not work for everyone, but this process helps some people manage the pain of their loved one’s passing.
Seek help from a professional resource
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to deal with your grief alone. If you or someone you know is dealing with the loss of a father figure, here are some resources that might help you:
- Cruse Bereavement Care’s confidential helpline is available every day and the charity has an online chat facility from 9am to 9pm weekdays.
- Heal Grief.org – this organisation is based in the USA but the insights it gives are relevant to us all.
- The NHS website features useful links and information to support you through bereavement.
- The good grief trust offers emotional and practical insights from people who have lost a parent, plus immediate support tailored to your personal experience in your local area
Sadly, men aren’t encouraged enough to talk about their mental health. As a result, they bottle up their feelings in order to cope. According to a report by Mind Men’s Mental Health, only two in five men admit to feeling worried or low, and are far less likely than women to seek support.
There are several organisations that can help provide support and guidance for those who are struggling following their father’s death. Men’s Sheds is one such movement. Men’s Sheds are community space for men to connect, converse and create together, reducing loneliness and isolation. There are 582 across the UK, so there’s bound to be one near you.
Supporting children through loss
Losing a father or father figure is hard for anyone, irrespective of their age. But if a father dies when his children are still young, this can add an additional layer of complexity to the emotions felt by those he leaves behind.
As well as dealing with the rawness of their grief when they lose their father, children and young people are likely to go through the grieving process again and in different ways when Father’s Day approaches.
It’s important for everyone involved to find the support they need to explore their emotions and cope with their grief during this difficult time. Thankfully, there are many resources that can help:
- Cruse Bereavement Care’s website for young people who’ve been bereaved, with films, poems, advice and insights from peers and specialists.
- Young Minds’ experts and ambassadors explore the stages of bereavement and how to work through your grief
- Family Lives’ useful links to sources of information and advice
- Child Bereavement UK supports parents and children through the grieving process. These resources are designed to help adults supporting bereaved children and young people
Come and join us at one of our Father’s Day services
Please join us in your nearest GreenAcres Park this Father’s Day, where we’ll be hosting a special service in remembrance of all the important men in our lives. Spend precious time together as a family to celebrate and remember the things you loved about your dad in a peaceful, quiet and reflective setting.
After the service, you’re more than welcome to join us in our Good Grief Café for tea and cake. Book onto a Father’s Day service to secure your place.
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