Father’s Day, when Dad is no longer here…

Father’s Day, when Dad is no longer here…

Published on June 13, 2016 

This Sunday, June 20, is Father’s Day. For anyone who has lost their father recently, this day can bring up some painful emotions. For others, it stirs up all kinds of memories…

Father’s Day gives us the opportunity to reflect on the love and commitment that we had for our father,  the one whose child we still are despite everything, the one for whom we wanted to become somebody. It is the day to honour all that he gave us.

Father’s Day takes on a different meaning over the years, depending on our age at the time of our father’s death and the relationship we had with him. Similarly, our understanding of our father changes over time. If our dad was our childhood hero, as we age, we have likely had time to mourn not only our father, but the perfect father. Different memories carry different emotional weights.

When the father-child relationship wasn’t an easy one

Let’s remember that there are no schools for becoming a parent and that some fathers may have overestimated their parenting skills. Others simply repeated what they themselves experienced. Sometimes, our father was not able to give us all the love we might have wanted, because he himself did not receive it from his own father. His generation may also have set the tone. Sometimes, older men have difficulty expressing their feelings. Their role was to make sure everyone was safe, to be a provider, and that was how they expressed their love. 

Let us, if we are able, forgive the lapses and let go of unfulfilled expectations. Make peace, at least, with yourself. Find comfort and look for explanations in books that deal with father-son or father-daughter relationships.

It may even be helpful to consult a psychologist to help clear away some painful memories that may still have an unhealthy grip on our lives. It may also be the right time to explore ways to improve communication and develop our own parenting skills to avoid repeating maladaptive behaviors in our own lives.

Finally, Father’s Day can also be an opportunity to celebrate the ties that bind us with an uncle, a godfather or a mentor.

Here are some ideas to help keep your father’s memory alive: 

  • Plan a visit to his mausoleum tomb or gravestone.
  • Write down what he taught you and what you want to pass on to your own children, if this is appropriate.
  • Continue an activity that you loved to do with your father, fishing, for example. If you have children, talk to them about their grandfather. Take advantage of this day to learn more about your father’s father or your mother’s father. This will help you trace your common lineage and discover how some experiences are repeated from one generation to the next. To know where you are going, you need to know something about where you came from and about events in your family’s history.
  • Look through your photos albums for some lasting memories or even create a scrapbook of family photos. In the background, play some music that he loved to listen to.
  • Take up a cause that your father supported. This may be to go out and lend a hand at an organization supported by the Knights of Columbus or any other organization that your father was a member of; referee at the soccer games in the park around the corner or why not make a donation to a cause associated with his death, such as the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Quebec or the Quebec Cancer Foundation.

Author: Chantal Dauray 

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