Father’s Day in Lockdown
With Father’s Day just around the corner, we know there will be a few families struggling on Sunday 21st June. The whole day is supposed to be about celebrations, happiness and memory making but this can be difficult when the person we want to celebrate is no longer here. Whether you are grieving the loss of your father or a father figure, or you are wanting to be a father or have lost a child, this day is going to be hard.
We are hearing more and more that grieving people have been made to feel like they should be “over it by now” or back to “normal”, but when you have experienced the death of a significant person, normal has gone and you are learning to live with your new normal. It is important to know that every emotion you are feeling right now is perfectly ok, no matter how you have been made to feel. It’s also important to acknowledge that this experience of Father’s Day may be very different to how it may normally be because of the lockdown measures. This may mean that you have less distractions, you may not be able to mark the day in the way you usually would and you may not be able to see the people you would usually lean on for support.
We have put together a few pieces of advice to help you get through this very different Father’s Day, hopefully making it a more positive experience. The first piece of advice is the most important – you need to look after you. Grief can be really taxing on your body and mind, allowing yourself some “me time” can be really beneficial so, here are some ideas and thoughts to help you plan for Father’s Day:
On Father’s Day, try to take an hour or so to look after yourself, take a bath, read a book or even take a nap. Try to spend some uninterrupted attention on you, your loved one wouldn’t want you to neglect yourself.
If you want to spend the day on your own, try not to feel guilty. There are plenty of people who would want to do the same and should be allowed to do so without the added pressure of what someone else might think of them.
If you don’t want to spend the day alone, maybe try to organise a socially distant walk with friends or family members who have been there to support you or who are in a similar situation.
If there are children who have also been affected by the death, try to include them in whatever plans you make. Often, if it is a grandparent who has died it is a child’s first experience of grief. Including them in your plans will help towards them understanding grief and what has happened.
If you feel like it is important to mark Father’s Day in a special way, you can do this in many ways that still comply with government regulations. Some ideas are:
Do something you used to do with your loved one and spend the time reflecting on your memories.
Go on a walk, visit your loved one’s favourite place (if possible at the moment) or even go through old photos and talk about special memories.
You could even write a Father’s Day card to your loved one, telling them all the things that you wish you could tell them if they were here.
Having a quiet moment of reflection, perhaps whilst lighting a candle in their memory can also help to feel like you have marked the day.
If you are a parent who has lost your partner, regardless of whether you are the Mother or Father, this is going to be a hard day for you too. As well as the advice relevant above, some other ideas are:
Create a special memory box/jar where you write down all your favourite memories of your loved one onto individual pieces of paper and put them into the jar. You can get the memory jar out when any of your family are having a particularly difficult day and read some of the memories.
Still mark the day if you want to – do not deny yourself a good day.
If you are a someone helping a bereaved child on Father’s Day, here are a few suggestions for how you can prepare for Father’s Day. The day itself and the lead up can be quite difficult, and the child may be showing signs of distress early on. Unfortunately, because this day has become so commercialised, merchandise tends to be out on the shelves early, sparking unusual behaviour in many bereaved children:
Acknowledging that their Father or Father figure was alive, and a real person may seem really obvious but it’s really important to do. Sitting with the child and writing them a Father’s Day card is one of the easiest ways to involve them in the day.
Often, if a parent of a child has passed away the child can feel particularly isolated; friends stop mentioning the person who has died and teachers, after time, may stop asking how that child is doing. Make sure you ask them, keep talking about the person and the memories you all share. It is a difficult day for them too, so make sure they feel supported.
Keeping their memory alive with activities is a really easy way to get the whole family engaged. Planting flowers, going on a walk to your loved one’s favourite place or taking a special card to their final resting place (if possible at the moment) are just some ideas.
Whilst getting everyone together is not possible this year, you could hold a small something to remember them. Lighting a candle or listening to your loved one’s favourite song, no matter how bad their taste in music was, can help the child feel connected to the person missing. Or get everyone together in a video call to talk about memories with that person.
If you have been affected by the loss of a child:
Be gentle with yourself. Some of the emotions of grief surrounding the loss of a child include anger, guilt and of course, sadness. These emotions are perfectly ok to feel and should not be suppressed.
Set aside some time for reflection. Whether you focus your emotions into something creative like writing in a journal, painting, drawing or holding a small memorial like lighting a candle or planting some flowers. Setting aside this time to remember that child can offer comfort on a difficult day.
If you are a Father who has never had the chance to hold your baby, whether that be due to a miscarriage or if you have difficulty conceiving, give yourself permission to grieve. Talking to a trusted family member or friend about those emotions and your feelings can often lift the weight of the loss, even if it is just for a short while.
Be patient with yourself. Do not push yourself into doing anything you feel that you’re not ready for.
It’s ok to need a little extra help, there are many helplines open on the run up to Father’s Day, see websites for details:
Dandelions Bereavement Support: https://www.wathalls.co.uk/about/resources/bereavement/derby-dandelions/
Bereavement support – https://www.cruse.org.uk/telephone-support
Familiy Bereavement Support – http://thelauracentre.org.uk/
Neonatal Bereavement Support – https://www.sands.org.uk/contact-us
As with making any plans while going through the fog that is grief, make all your plans flexible as you may not be feeling up to them on the day. For further support and guidance, please call 01332 345268 and ask for Fay, our Bereavement Support Coordinator.