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When Father’s Day is Hard

Father’s Day is this Sunday. It stirs up many emotions for me.

Last year, I wrote about how Mother’s Day can be hard. It can be hard for many for a multitude of reasons – yearning to be a mother, child loss, mom loss, strained relationships, lack of maternal figure.

It can be any reason. My heart goes out to anyone who struggles on this day. Thankfully more and more companies are becoming aware of this – giving consumers the option to not receive promotions or mailers about Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day isn’t the only difficult holiday for many. For some, Father’s Day is just as hard.

father's dayYou may play the role of father to your kids in addition to being a mom. Your kids’ dad may be a “Disneyland Dad” showing up to take them to buy new toys and eat junk food and go fun places. Then bringing them home all wound up on sugar and fun. The crash of reality coming when the excitement wears off and they have to pick up their room and eat the dinner you cooked.

You may not have a good relationship with your own dad – you hardly know him, he doesn’t respect your boundaries, he has substance issues, he mistreated you, or he just doesn’t care. It breaks you seeing what you never had. This is something I have very personal experience with.

Your dad may be gone from your life – he’s on the other side of the Great Divide or he made it clear there’s no room for you in his life. It hurts to see families celebrating what you once had but no longer do.

If this is the first Father’s Day after your dad has gone to Heaven, you have an extra special spot in my heart. I’m so sorry he is no longer with you.

You are not alone.

It may feel like it when it your lowest of lows. You are not. Every day it seems like, I’m reading a story about a mom whose kids dad refuses to see them. Or how she just doesn’t want to celebrate Father’s Day because he barely participates in their life and leaves the parenting to her. Or about the loss of a great family man to a terrible disease or accident.

father's dayFind someone to talk to about your feelings on Father’s Day.

Find a therapist, a close family member, a friend, your significant other, even that stranger on Facebook who you see their post about Father’s Day being painful. Get it out. Even if nothing changes. Saying things out loud can be very therapeutic. There are more of us than we know. It’s an unspoken bond that no one want to share but you do.

Stay off social media if you need to.

Social media often plays a different narrative that people are living happy, perfect lives. This is often not true. You’ve probably seen it for yourself – the post of a woman who you know her dad is not what she writes him to be. A friend of yours touting that her husband hangs the moon when you know she is truly hurting inside.

You are entitled to your feelings – whatever they may be.

You’re entitled to take as long as you need to in order to come to terms with your feelings. It took a long time (and some pretty big letdowns) for me to realize where I stood in my biological dad’s life and always would. Once I did – it was relieving. When you are ready – you will feel lighter, and you won’t have to carry it alone.

You’re entitled to grieve the loss of your dad for as long as you need to.

Grief has no timeline and no expectation for what is proper. Grief is your own. Look at photos of him or videos. Talk about him. Laugh, cry, eat his favorite foods and remember him. Those who are  no longer here physically are never truly gone as long as we remember them.

If this day is painful for you – do something that makes you happy or spend it enjoying the simplicity of life. Feel the sun on your face, smell the roses, hear the laughter of your children, savor the taste of your favorite meal, anything that brings you a little bit of joy.

I hope this Father’s Day – you don’t just survive. My hope – for you who are hurting for any reason – is to THRIVE on that day and the days ahead.

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