It is important to remember that when someone we love dies, although they are no longer physically present, our relationship with the person does not end. After the death of a father or father-figure, the legacy of his presence in your life continues. The people we love are a part of who we are. Telling your story is an important part of being able to make meaning of your grief journey. Here are some ideas for celebrating the legacy of your father and sharing his story this Father’s Day:
- Create a memory box or scrapbook and fill it with mementos from both before and after the death. The items can be tokens of a time spent together (such as ticket stubs, shells from a day at the beach, photos) or things that remind you of your father (such as something green because that was his favorite color, a picture of his favorite actor from a magazine). Write letters, poems, songs, or stories, or draw a picture for your father to add to the other mementos.
- Gather with family and friends who knew your father and pull out old photos or home movies. Encourage each person to share a story about your father at that age or about the event in the image or video clip.
- Revisit one of your father’s favorite places, such as a restaurant or park, or room in his home, somewhere where you have strong memories of your father. Bring a journal and write down the memories that this place evokes. Imagine being in that place again with your father. If he was there with you, what questions would you ask him? Write out an imagined conversation in your journal, outlining what you would say and how you think he would respond.
- Memories are often connected with our senses. Engage your sense of sound by creating a playlist to honor different memories with your father. On Father’s Day, share your playlist with family and friends and describe the meaning behind each song. Engage your sense of taste by recreating a memorable meal you had with your father. If your father liked to cook, you could try making one of his recipes or you could go to one of his favorite restaurants.
- If it is your child’s father who died, you may wish to reach out to family members and friends and ask them to write down memories and stories that you can share with your child. Sharing memories with bereaved family members is a true gift, it shows that others love and remember the person who died, and also adds new memories for them to hold on to. Children who were very young when their father died will want to know, "What was my dad like?" Stories that describe the kind of things their father did and the way he was, from the silly to serious, help build a sense of who their father was, how they are alike, and how they are different.
To learn about the Road to Resilience and to view the latest amination in honor of Father’s Day, click here.
To hear about the partnership between StoryCorps and the New York Life Foundation on The Widowed Parent Podcast, click here.