Sunday is Father’s Day. A special day to honour the fathers and father figures in our lives. A day to treat dad to breakfast in bed, or a lovely Sunday Roast. Perhaps a gift of some favourite beer or aftershave. Or maybe just a great excuse to hang-out together. Father’s Day can be difficult if you are coping with the death of your dad. For Information Development Nurse Richard, today is a day of reflection – a day to remember his father who died from cancer nearly 15 years ago – and to look to the future.

Why do we celebrate Father’s Day?

The history of Mothering Sunday is well documented, but it’s not entirely clear where the idea for a special day to honour our fathers comes from. In the UK (and many other countries) Father’s Day is always the 3rd Sunday in June. There is a suggestion that it has pagan origins. But a day to celebrate all things fatherhood was first introduced in the USA, over 100 years ago, before crossing the pond to be adopted in the UK.

Father’s Day without your dad

Facing Father’s Day for the first time since losing your dad can be very difficult. It’s another of those “special” days, like Christmas or a birthday, when family is most important. Not having one of them with you can increase feelings of grief and sadness that you thought you were coping with.

There’s no right or wrong way to feel. You may be really missing your dad and be very upset today. Or you may be able to reflect on all the great things about your dad, remember Father’s Days you spent together. Celebrate your dad’s memory. 

You could do something today to remember your dad. You could sit quietly in a place that has special memories for you, post something about them on social media, or perhaps organise a meal in their memory.

Me and my dad

My dad was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour shortly after his 70th birthday. Surgery wasn’t possible, so he had radiotherapy. At the time I lived in London and he in Devon with my mum. He finished treatment and everything seemed OK. I saw him a few times after this – and we had some good days together in the Devon summer sun. But his health deteriorated, and he died unexpectedly.

We weren’t great communicators, my dad and me. We didn’t talk about the important stuff, like emotions and what made us tick. But I think we had an understanding. I never saw him so proud as when he spoke at my wedding. I hope he knew I loved him.

Celebrate those you love

Days like Father’s Day without a loved one, make me realise that time spent together is very precious. We should celebrate each other while we can. Tell the important people in your life how much they mean to you. But, if you’re not so comfortable doing that, it’s OK to show them too – sometimes actions can mean more than words.

Looking back this Father’s Day, 15 years after my dad died, I would have liked to have told my dad more about me and my life. I could have shared more. But that really wasn’t our way so I’m not going to beat myself up with regret. But I will take time today to stop and think of my dad, to raise a glass in his memory, thank him for everything he did for me – and celebrate his life.

If you are struggling to cope with the death of your father, or someone else close to you, there is lots of help available. You can call our support line 7 days a week, or get support via our Online Community. We also have a free booklet which you may find helpful, called After someone dies: coping with bereavement.

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