Q. This is the first Father’s Day since my husband died last summer, and a part of me dreads it. How can I get through it without falling apart? Is there a way to make it meaningful, not just sad?
A. Gather closely your children (and grandchildren if you have them) and others who care about you and share the day. Solicit their ideas. You never know what they’ll come up with. One possibility that springs to mind is a picnic in the park, where you’re all nourished and surrounded by nature. If children live far away, plan the day with other family members or friends who knew your husband.
My own family usually observes Father’s Day with dinner at a local restaurant. We raise a glass to my late husband. I may throw out a question to the table, something like “What do you miss most about Dad?” And we take turns answering. The idea is to dig deep and reminisce, one of the most healing activities to engage in on this holiday. This year we’re considering getting together at home, which will allow us to pull out family photograph albums and pass them around. The activity also ignites any number of “remember when’s” that can lead to important conversations and it also celebrate young and expectant fathers in the family. I find that everyone – whether three, 33, or older – loves to see themselves as babies, notice resemblances from generation to generation, and talk about history.
And don’t forget your own father. Perfect ones don’t exist, but my own father left important legacies that helped shaped the lives of my siblings and me. I want to pass those legacies on to my grandchildren. Perhaps you feel the same way and can find comfort in thinking about your dad.
Rituals like Father’s Day are a cement that binds us all together. The past brings strength and understanding to the present. Yes this is a sad holiday for you, but try to keep your eye on the hope, as well. If you’re alone, check out activities at your place of worship or public events that might appeal to you. Consider volunteering. Doing something for others is always good medicine. Or round up a few single women you know for a museum or a movie and a good meal. Chances are they’ll be very glad you called.
If you have a question for Florence, please email her at email@example.com.
Florence Isaacs is a freelance journalist, author—and a widow herself. Her books include My Deepest Sympathies, When the Man You Love Is Ill and Just a Note to Say...The Perfect Words for Every Occasion.
Image: Flickr Creative Commons/kento.ikeda