As someone who lost my dad many years ago to cancer, I often find the holidays difficult.  

Father’s Day being one of the hardest as it zones right in on what I’ve lost. I know I’m not alone in feeling the weight of this holiday and so I thought I’d share some tips for friends and family who want to support someone who is without their dad this father’s day.

I’m sure there are many ways people work through these occasions. Here are some ideas just from my perspective. Hopefully they may help some of you like they’ve helped me!

Don’t stop celebrating your dads

To the friends and family who want to be there for us, one important thing we want you to know is that we want you to celebrate your dads!  You don’t need to hide it from us and even though it may get us a little down, ultimately we are so happy for you that you get the opportunity to celebrate the wonderful dads in your life.

Talk to us about our dads

Although you may feel a little uncomfortable bringing them up, for most of us they were a huge part of our lives and just because they are no longer here doesn’t mean all that they meant to us and all that we have experienced with them has disappeared.  We like to reminisce and tell stories about our dads, so please ask.

A distraction may be welcome

The flip side is that sometimes we also like to be distracted.  In the weeks before father’s day everyone is bombarded with advertising for father’s day, it is everywhere, all the time!  So even though we would have been thinking about it a lot anyway, now there is no escaping it. If you can try to take our minds off of it from time to time, take us to the movies, or for a night out on the town, for a hike, camping, away from social media, anything you think might help relieve the constant reminders

Be patient

Have more patience with us than you normally would. We don’t walk around with a t-shirt saying “Dad died, father’s day is tough, please excuse my snappy behaviour”.  Sometimes you may notice your friends behaviour is slightly different than their norm, please try and stop for a minute and consider they may be going through some grief and are struggling to maintain their usual self. 

Be present

Lastly, thanks for being there and I mean being there.  Try and make yourself available to your friend who’s lost their dad.  You bringing it up isn’t going to bring attention to it, their attention is already on it.  So be there, bring it up, also bring a casserole, or a bucket of ice cream, or a salad for those incredibly restrained grievers.  Just do any little thing you think would make someone feel better! That bit of effort you put in will be remembered more than you know.