Senior Emotional Health

Surviving Father’s Day When You’ve Just Lost Dad

Surviving Father’s Day When You’ve Just Lost Dad

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Father’s Day—Home of the “Grill Master” apron and football on the lawn. It tends to be a relaxed day of fun and food and avoiding the wayward frisbee whizzing by your head.

Unless you’ve just lost your dad.

Losing a parent can make you feel lost yourself. And Father’s Day makes that loss all the more stark.

What then?

Here are some ideas to help you work through the grief.

Frontida Assisted Living Facilities provide you with posts like this one to help you live your best life.

Grieving Isn’t Done in a Day

Even if you aren’t normally an emotional person, grieving can set you on a roller coaster: denial, anger, acceptance, depression, back to anger…

And it doesn’t follow some nice neat pattern. It might look different for your brother than it does for you. It might not even look the same when you lose Dad as it does when you lose Mom. That’s okay!

The important thing is to allow yourself time to work through it however it hits.

Grief can affect your health

  • Take a good vitamin supplement like zinc or echinacea to boost your immunities. Colds and flus like to attack when you’re down.
  • Get out in the sun for some exercise. (Sun = Vitamin D = healthy emotions. Exercise—well, you know all the emotional, physical, and psychological benefits of that.)
  • Choose healthy foods.
    Don’t feel up to cooking? When friends offer help, ask for a healthy meal that you can eat right away or stick in the freezer.

Grief can affect your sleep

  • Don’t be shocked at crazy—even awkward—dreams. Your mind is defragging, and the end result can be heffalumps and woozles.
  • Exercise first thing in the morning or during your lunch hour. It helps you stay awake during the day and sleep at night.

Grief can affect your concentration

  • Use cruise control on your car.
    Mourning and speeding tickets can go hand-in-hand. (Take extra care at stop lights, too.)
  • Make lists of what you need to do for the day—and lists of what you’ve done.
    Take notes in discussions.

Grief can affect your relationships

  • Find friends who will let you talk about Dad. Friends who’ll let you cry. And friends who can distract you when you need to think of something else.
  • Take time to be alone with your thoughts. Sometimes you need the world to be quiet.

Grieving isn’t easy, but it is necessary. Take the time your body and emotions need to work through it.

Grappling with Regret

No matter what your relationship with your dad was, when it’s gone, you might start questioning everything.

Mourning for what you WISH the relationship had been

  • Maybe the relationship wasn’t what you wanted it to be.
  • Maybe you wonder if he knew how much you loved him.

Talk to someone else who knew you both. Share your regrets, your wishes, your worries. They may be able to give you comforting insight that you can’t see right now.

Then reach out to your loved ones around you now. Make sure they know how much you care.

Realizing you’re all “grieved out”

If you’ve been watching Dad fade away for a long time, you may feel you have no more tears to cry.

That’s okay.

Celebrate the man you knew before and take time to recuperate. Grieving is as much about figuring out who you are now as much as it is letting go of him.

Realizing He’s Not There for Your Flat Tires

Whether you’ve called Dad for advice any time in the last decade or not, it was always a possibility.

Now you suddenly realize you can’t.

  • Take time with the family to share some of Dad’s best advice—some wise and, of course, some hilarious.
  • While you’re at it, write it down for the next time you need it. Or record it for the cloud.

Keeping His Memory Alive

Dad may very well have been your first superhero. And while you watched him slow down over the years, his cape still waved on.

  • Bring the family together to play an epic game in his honor. Football, basketball, Monopoly, Parcheesi, … whatever was his favorite.
  • Name opposing times by his nicknames, his beloved sports teams, or his choice of foods.
  • Make it a yearly event—and don’t forget the pictures.

Then take time to share other stories of your real-life Marvel.

(Sorry, Dad. The story of your splitting your pants in class will probably make the list.)

Living On—with a Little Help from Your Friends

Grieving takes time. Sadly, the world doesn’t always appreciate how long…

But find friends and family who get it!

And if all else fails, find a furry friend. Studies increasingly show how helpful these animals are when we’re grieving.

  • Just petting them helps us emotionally and mentally.
  • And they’re always looking for an excuse to take a walk. (One of those things you need!)

So don’t be afraid to grab the phone—or a leash. You don’t have to do this alone.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

We want to know! What was the best—or funniest—advice your dad ever gave you? Tell us on Facebook.

If Dad is still with you, but you realize you need help caring for him, Frontida Assisted Living is here for all your Senior Living needs.

For more help, read these other posts about emotional issues like depression and grief.

Elizabeth Daghfal
• 4 min read

Elizabeth Daghfal is a writer, teacher, speaker, and community volunteer. When she isn't teaching or writing-- Who are we kidding? Her husband and five kids say she's ALWAYS teaching and writing. She has a passion to help people who are struggling and is happy to say her shoulders are drip-dry. Born and raised in the South, she now lives in Wisconsin and loves it--except for the fifteen months of winter. Read more about her at