Coping with a Father’s Loss or Estrangement

And just like that, school is winding down, the first day of summer is just days away, and it’s already the third Sunday of June – Father’s Day.  For people celebrating fatherhood, it is a day filled with food, family, and fun.  But for many, the Hallmark holiday can be a painful reminder of loss, or bring up complicated feelings due to estrangement.  

If Father’s day is one holiday you might rather forget, or that triggers difficult memories, there are strategies to getting through the rest of the weekend with better mental health.  If you are a social media scroller – today is a good time to give it a rest and take time to get some extra sleep, enjoy the outdoors, exercise, or prepare a healthy meal.   Maybe even do meal prep for the entire week!

Although it is the natural order of things for adult children to eventually lose both their parents, sometimes it is far too soon.  Lost loved ones can still be honored after they are gone by sharing memories, journaling, planting a tree, or participating in an activity they once enjoyed.   Anticipating that the day may be difficult and planning to either mark the day in a small way, or find other alternatives can ease the sorrow.  Volunteering or making a charitable donation can help people find meaning and positivity during emotionally-charged holidays.  Mindset is always important in how we choose to look at life events and circumstances. By focusing on what is within our control, and the things we are grateful for, our lives can be more joyful. 

According to a recent New York Times article, finding others with similar struggles with relationships or loss can be a great support when people feel out of step with the majority of the culture.  There are online grief support groups, and podcasts that can help connect people for whom fatherhood has a troubled association.   Reaching out to friends or family who may share your complicated emotions this holiday can also be a comfort.  You are not alone, and it helps to remember that what we see on Instagram or Facebook is rarely a true reflection of daily life. 

While families are celebrating the fathers in their lives, there are always those who are also feeling grief, anger, disappointment, or betrayal.  Families are complicated and nobody can trigger strong emotions like your closest relatives!  But with time, and some damage control, holidays can become less like a minefield and more akin to a challenging trail – a little tricky at times, but not explosive. 

Read more about Father’s Day and the different types of loss by following this link to Modern Loss.