While many holidays bring joy and laughter, they can make some people feel sadness and pain. Depending on an individual’s circumstances, certain days that were once fun to celebrate stopped being so. Take Father’s Day for example. Though it’s a time to show love to the father figure in your life, there are millions of people around the world whose dads are no longer with them in the physical form, so this day will be tough. I am now one of these people.
My amazing, beautiful dad passed away just a couple weeks before Christmas 2022 and I haven’t fully been the same since – I probably never will be.
Grief is very weird.
One minute you’re living life, smiling, laughing, just having a great time. And then abruptly, you hear or see something that reminds you that your loved one is gone — physically.
Disclaimer: I like to say things like gone “physically” and no longer here in the “physical” form because that’s less harsh than saying gone completely. The latter sounds definite and forever. I know I’ll see him again, so I don’t say stuff like that. It also makes things just a tiny bit more bearable knowing that I will. One day.
Anyway, life’s been different… But, surprisingly, I’ve been doing much better than I thought I would be. I’ve actually shocked myself with how strong I’ve been, which is a conflicting feeling because I know it’s also perfectly fine and normal to be “weak” and not OK. However, I don’t ever stay like that for too long. I honestly think my dad is making me push through like this because, again, I have zero clue how I have been holding it together – in between sporadic crying here and there, including as I’m writing this. But, he’s not letting me mope for long like I want haha.
My dad would always say that out of all his other kids, I was the one who was just like him. We were twins. We share the same birth month, too: March. (Fun fact: I was actually supposed to be born on his birthday – making this twin thing even more real — but my mother had to have her labor induced to save me.)
When his birthday, March 25, was coming up this year, I was feeling a lot of anxiety. But, the anxiety I’ve felt for the last few weeks – months even – as Father’s Day approached was on a whole other level. What made it even worse was weeks back, I started looking for a tombstone for my dad’s gravesite. (In St. Vincent, you have to wait a few months before one is placed.)
Yes, while people were making Father’s Day plans for their parents, I was picking out what tombstones looked “nice” for mine. Then, writing the wording that would be on it. And then, picking the design. Until on two separate days a week or two ago, I just completely broke down. It got to be too much. Thank God for my family and circle lifting me up.
I wanted to write this letter for a couple reasons: 1) I feel like it will be therapeutic for me to release using my love and talent of writing, and 2) I wanted to let the other people having a hard time this Father’s Day weekend know that they are not alone. And that it will be all right.
I know Father’s Day is going to be tough with all the social media posts and dads out celebrating with their kids. But, just take it easy on yourself. Giving yourself grace is key when grieving. I’ve learned this.
A very small part of you may even feel a bit envious of people who still get to celebrate with their dads – I’m guilty of this, too. Again, that’s normal along with the many other mixed emotions you’ll be feeling such as sadness. But, hopefully, you also feel peace and comfort – and, of course, love.
I would also suggest going out and doing something that you know will put a smile on your face and make you feel somewhat good this day. Laughter really is medicine.
I may sound crazy – I don’t care, I am – but my dad still gives me signs all the time that he’s still with me whether they’re in my dreams or my everyday life. In fact, on his birthday, he showed me something that made me immediately know it was him and I busted out laughing in my apartment.
To all of those missing their dads this Father’s Day – and who will continue to miss them as they live life without them physically here – please know that your father is still with you, too. And his spirit is still alive. Just, as I said, not in the physical form.
My wish is that you come to a point when you can think about the beautiful memories you’ve shared with him while he was still on earth and they make you smile, perhaps even giggle, or laugh… but if you cry, that’s OK, too. Remember the lessons he taught you that have shaped you into the person you are today, as well. He taught you them for a reason – to use wisely, when needed, in this thing called life.
Cherish these beautiful times and know that his love has now expanded into a new world that will cover you now more than ever before. Your dad is now a guardian angel. And you living your absolute best life is exactly what he would want.
You are the piece of him that lives on. So, make him proud and keep on living – and thriving. If your dad was anything like mine, he wouldn’t want you to mope for too long either.
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