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NEXT UP --- THE CHALLENGE OF FATHER’S DAY...HOW TO CELEBRATE?

By Jill S. Cohen, NYC family grief counselor


I know it’s a tough one. Every year, Father’s Day comes around, without fail. And every year, people sit in my office and ask me what to do, how to handle it, and express just hard it can be.


My answer is ALL or NOTHING … or something in between.


In other words, doing “ALL” means celebrating. Celebrate your father, the memories, the significance of your life together, the way he enjoyed living, and the way he handed down his values to you – of living life to the fullest. Play golf, throw a barbecue, take a walk, and enjoy the day. Make a meal he really enjoyed. Participate in an activity that gave him joy. Check out one of his hobbies and see if that feels right. This is one way to handle it.


Doing “NOTHING” means surrendering to the day. It’s your day, so it’s your choice as to how to spend it.

If you are in early mourning stages, (or just find this holiday too difficult every year), you should feel free to take a pass on any festivities that will make you feel uncomfortable or that you do not really want to attend or participate in. If anyone asks why you’re not going, say anything you want.

  • “I’m just not up to it this year”.

  • “I am really grieving at holidays like this”.

  • “Really not in the mood. Hopefully, next year.”

  • “I really appreciate the invitation, hopefully, next year”.

  • “It’s too hard for me”.

Then, spend the day in a way that would make you feel supported, loved, and calm.

Remember, you can choose to avoid putting yourself in the kind of situation which would be upsetting to you. It’s not a cop-out. It’s a way of taking care of yourself and understanding that when you are grieving, you have special needs that are important. (We sometimes call it “The Mourner’s Bill of Rights”). Grief is Hard. Do it your way.


And then there’s “SOMETHING IN BETWEEN”. This is a combination of acknowledging that Father’s Day is a day to honor your Father in some way. You can do it privately and quietly. Do something personally to acknowledge him, even in a small way. Write him a note. Draw a picture. Prepare or eat a special food which he enjoyed. Light a candle. Buy a book if he was interested in books. Watch a tv show or movie you enjoyed with him. Just a personal private way of celebrating Dad. Doesn’t have to be a big display. A little can really be a lot, especially if it’s meaningful.


Remember, one of the goals in grieving is to not judge yourself on how you’re grieving. Too much, not enough, wrong way, right way. Those are not real. What is real is grieving just as you do it, just as comes naturally to you. Nobody should judge another’s grief or grieving behavior. And you should not judge your own either.


Honor the truth. This “Hallmark card day” Father’s Day is a hard day for someone whose Dad has died. And while you can know how lucky you were to have a great Dad, you can be sad because he is not physically here with you any longer.

I wish you good luck, however you choose to do it.


And if you find yourself in need of coping tools and strategies to work through your grief, let me help you.


Tough times deserve gentle support.

Please schedule a 30-minute complimentary consult so that we can talk about what kind of support might benefit you. Just click HERE!


And for more information on grief counseling, please feel free to download my free resource guide HERE.

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