Not just for fathers, Father’s Day is a day for us to honor and acknowledge all of the supportive men, fathers, and others in our lives. Planning to celebrate Father’s Day, after your father has died, can feel challenging at times.
Thankfully, there isn’t one “right way” to celebrate and you get to decide what Father’s Day will look like for you.
Many of the tried-and-true ways of observing this special day are centered around gratitude, acts of service, reflection, and quality time. These are all observations that can be done with just as much feeling as if your dad were still here with you.
Send Him a Message
You could type up a text, write an email, draft a handwritten letter, or pick out a traditional Father’s Day greeting card. Whatever medium you choose, you can use that space to thank, honor, and remember your dad.
You could even get a little creative with this and write a short story or a song to send your sentiments to your loved one.
Make Him Something
If you’re looking for a more “hands-on” way to observe the holiday, you might try making something in honor of your parent. The act of physically creating something– be it a painting, a bird-house, or anything in-between– can be a soothing or cathartic activity on its own.
It’s also a great way to express any big feelings you might have that a card, text, song, etc. just won’t contain.
Whatever you decide to make, try to focus on the feeling you put into it.
Host a Cookout
In many places, mid-June is prime time for having a good old-fashioned cookout or a full-fledged barbecue. Getting together with other members of your family for some good food and (hopefully!) nice weather is a great way to observe Father’s Day.
Spending time with other loved ones and members of your family, swapping favorite stories, and maybe even learning something new about your dad can be a great comfort to everyone involved.
Try Out His Hobbies
Hobbies and interests– what someone does with their free time– can tell us a lot about who a person is. Just as much as they reveal in life, they can reveal after death.
Exploring the hobbies or interests of a loved one after they have died gives us a chance to view the world through their eyes for a while.
If you already had shared interests, returning to an old project or routine that you worked on together can be an effective way to bring up and reflect upon good memories of the time you spent together.
Watch His Favorite Movies
Watching your father’s favorite movies is another great opportunity to learn more about your parent, to look back fondly on shared experiences, or do a little bit of both.
Rewatching old favorites that you watched together as a kid can be a sweet trip down memory lane. Watching something new-to-you could reveal a worldview, a sense of humor, or a source for that one dramatic quote he was always saying.
Similar things can be learned by looking into any other favorites of his, like albums, books, or artists.
Go To His Happy Places
This is yet another way to spend some quality time with your dad through his experiences. You could take it in a couple of different directions, revisiting places you used to go to together or exploring the places that he really loved in life.
These places could be a specific room in the house, like the kitchen or a workshop. They could be a park, restaurant, boat, place of worship, or the open road. Wherever your parent was most happy, visit there and spend some time with him in spirit.
Carry On a Family Tradition
One way we can keep our loved ones’ memories alive and instill a sense of connectedness throughout the family is by passing on traditions.
You might share a family recipe, visit a family favorite picnic spot, or share the family motto. Whatever tradition looks like in your family, you can participate in this, whether or not you have children of your own.
Passing the tradition on to the youngest generation or sharing it with close friends of your family have the same results– connection and community. The benefits of which go far beyond this specific holiday and this specific loved one.
Share Stories About Him
Similarly, you can honor your father’s memory by sharing stories about him with your own kids, the younger generation, or anyone who feels like family.
Not only will this strengthen the family ties to him, but it may also help you learn a little more about your relationship with him. Explore those memories and think about why they best represent who he was, and still is, to you.
Make a Donation
Making a donation to a cause or organization that someone cares about or is affected by is an incredibly thoughtful gift. And death certainly doesn’t rule your father out as a recipient.
If your gift will be public, remember to include “in memory of” and his name on any forms or checks.
Just like donating money in memory of your father, you can donate your time to a cause he cared about.
You could even get a group of your family members and other loved ones to volunteer as a team, or go one step further and make this a new family tradition!
Celebrating Father’s Day after your father has died is not about celebrating “the right way,” but about finding what feels good to you. Maybe you want to do all of these things, or maybe you come up with completely different ideas.
Whatever you choose to do to honor your father, make sure that you continue to honor yourself and your journey, too.
Photo credit: Oleksandr Pidvalnyi, via Pexels