If for you Father’s Day is a reminder of loss rather than a celebration, here are some things you can plan for Sunday that allow you to take more control of the emotions of the day. Planning an activity to honor or acknowledge your dad helps to confront feelings related to the loss in a way that may be better anticipated and more predictable for you.
1) Tell a Story About Him
Some people believe that a person doesn’t really die until the last living person who knew them dies as well. But sharing stories about your dad, especially to the younger generations who may not have know him, allows his legend to live on.
2) Drag Out Your Box of Childhood Memorabilia
Somewhere in your house, it’s probably there–that box of stuff that’s like a time capsule of your childhood. It’s possible that there isn’t one thing in that box that specifically connects to your dad, but immersing yourself in the sights, scents, and feel of items from your youth are sure to bring back family memories that included your dad.
3) Share Something Your Dad Taught You with Someone New
If your dad taught you how to tie a tie, maybe teach your son to do the same on Father’s Day. If your dad showed you how to change a flat tire, pass that along to your niece. You could also tell a friend one of your dad’s favorite jokes. Dads are full of useful stuff and Father’s Day is a good time to pass some of it along to others.
4) Try an Activity That He Loved That You’ve Never Attempted
If your dad was an avid golfer but you never learned to play, try going to the driving range for the first time. Did your dad love a good single-malt Scotch, but you’ve never touched the stuff? Give it a try! Not only does this connect you to something your dad loved, but trying new things is good for your brain health. (Okay, maybe Scotch isn’t so much.)
5) Watch Old Home Movies
This one is especially good if your dad has been gone for a long time. When a younger person loses their dad, often over time, that person gets used to seeing their dad as a 2-dimensional still-life photograph. Movies are a live-action reminder of the way a smile would gradually spread across Dad’s face before he broke into laughter, or the way he carried himself when he walked. Videos remind us of the little idiosyncrasies of movement that get lost in our memory over time.
6) Eat Like a Dad
If your dad’s favorite food in the world was fried chicken, go enjoy some in his honor. If he loved your mom’s meatloaf, get the recipe and make it for your family (don’t forget to invite mom too). It can be as simple as having a scoop of his favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream.
7) Talk to Your Dad
If you have any unresolved feelings (negative or positive) toward your dad, or if you just have something you want to say to him, write it down. You could put it in a Father’s Day card. (For some people, the process of finding a card that is perfect for their dad is the part of this activity they most enjoy.) Take your card or a piece of paper, grab a pen, and say whatever you want to say to your dad. If you’re feeling especially symbolic, you could even set that letter or card on a campfire that night and very literally sent it up into the world.