Grief & Loss: The Opposite Side of Father’s Day

A heavily personal post from me today. To mark UK Father’s Day 2020, I thought I’d discuss my dad, my grief and how losing him has changed how I see Father’s day now.

Firstly, a content warning, I’ll be discussing grief, bereavement and bits and pieces of medical stuff here, so I’d suggest skipping this post if any of those are likely to significantly upset you or bring up any of your own experiences.

I guess if I was to explain this post in a sentence it’s exploring the opposite side of father’s day. As I said in the mini introduction, the publication of this post coincides with UK father’s day 2020 and is also a couple of days short of the 2-year anniversary of my own dad’s passing. Since he passed away, I’ve begun to see Father’s day in a different light. Of course, there are those who have been father figures to me that I can still celebrate. Men like my own stepdad, who has been there for me for years whilst my dad was still here and has continued to be there for me since my dad passed away. But father’s day is still different. All the emails from brands and venues about father’s day gifts and reminders, and every blogger “father’s day gift guide” that I see is a stinging reminder every single time that my dad is no longer with us. Now, I’m not saying don’t write that content or for brands not to send those emails, I just don’t think we see this side of the situation as often (how people approach certain days and occasions after a bereavement). So, I thought I’d explain my side of it and how fathers’ days is different now.

I didn’t see my dad often, we lived at pretty much opposite ends of the country for a good portion of my life, so I never made a very big deal of father’s day. I’d just send him a “happy father’s day”  message, and a present if I could find a particularly good one that I thought he’d enjoy. Oh, how I  regret that now he’s no longer here, I so wish I’d made a bigger deal of Father’s day when he was here.

Father’s day was different once I’d received a phone call that turned my world upside down, telling me that my dad was ill and that we’d have to rush up to the hospital (hundreds of miles away). I didn’t fully know what was going on, but I knew I had to organise and sort everything to be ready to drive up to the hospital in the morning. It’s pretty difficult to organise your life when it feels like the world’s spun on its axis and the ground’s dropped out from beneath you all at once.

Father’s day becomes different because all I can remember is my dad’s last father’s day  with  him in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit).  All of us (I have siblings) bringing cards and wishing him a happy father’s day. I can’t tell you how heart-breaking that was being unable to know what he thought of his cards or if he could actually hear us.

Father’s day is different when I realise that I spent the whole lead up to that day 2 years ago (basically the whole of June) discovering that the man I thought was invincible and immortal (because everyone thinks their parents are immortal right) actually wasn’t.

Father’s day becomes different when I remember the days and nights I spent trying to sleep in an ICU waiting room or relatives room wondering if dad was ok whilst the rest of us slept. Terrified to go to sleep in case he wasn’t with us when I woke up. Begging for someone to sit with him whilst I slept so that he wasn’t alone if something did happen.

Father’s day is different when I remember that,  instead of spending those June days chatting to dad and planning our trip to Madrid, I was cancelling the trip and wondering if I’d be helping to plan a funeral instead.

Father’s day will be different when I go to text him that same “ happy father’s day” message and realise I can’t because he won’t respond anymore.

Father’s day will always be different when every sentence talking about that wonderful man has to start with “dad was …” and not “dad is …”.

I’m not sure where I was going with this blog post. But what I’m saying is: Beyond the brands “father’s day” emails and adverts and the bloggers “ father’s day gift guides”, there’s a different side,  a different feeling to father’s day for me and those like me who no longer have the man we call dad with us. And I think that should be talked about more.

Happy father’s day, dad. I love you and I’ll miss you forever

All my love

Ems

24 Comments

  1. The saddest part every father’s day, seeing my friend’s posts on my timeline greeting their dad’s a happy father’s day. And then later, I will think of my dad and saying “what if’s”. This is so difficult. I grew up without a father figure for 16years. Sending hugs, Our dad’s are happy now and always proud for what we are now.

    – Jah

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  2. My dad has been gone for 8 years now, and my mom for 15 years. And to this day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are bittersweet. It will get easier, but it will always be there. Hugs from across the pond in the USA, and thank you for such an insightful post!

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  3. For me it’s Mothers day for the exact same reasons. Although Fathers day feels just as tainted because it’ll never be the family day it used to be in the same way.

    Sending you so much love. Thank you for sharing so honestly, beautiful post x

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  4. A relatable read – I lost my father 20 years ago and although it doesn’t get any easier, you learn how to cope with grief and how it melts into your daily life. I’ve written quite a few posts on my own experiences on my blog if you ever need comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. Hope you and your loved ones are safe x

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  5. Fathers Day for me has been a challenge for some time now. My father passed when I was just 15 years old, back in 2002. While I definitely have some ‘father figures’ in my life that I like to acknowledge at this time, it’s just not quite the same. I find that I have to avoid social media for the most part as seeing everyone else talk about the great relationship that they have with their father is just too difficult.

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  6. This post hit home in a lot of ways, & echoed a lot of things I was thinking this Father’s Day. Like you, my father & I didn’t have a particularly close relationship, & it wasn’t until after his death that I found out why, leaving me with so many questions & regrets. Tho I think death always leaves us with questions & regrets. Most people talk about their late fathers & the relationship they had in such glowing terms, but very few address the complexity after death of one that wasn’t quite, and wasn’t quite not for any particular reason. Anyway. I appreciate you sharing such a personal experience, your thoughts on your father, and things you would have done differently.

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  7. Your post got me right in the heart but I needed to read it! Your dad would be so proud of you and he’ll be watching over you. It really is a special kind of pain losing your dad, I don’t think there is anything quite like it. I had similar experiences to you, ten years ago this week I got the call to go hundreds of miles later that day once I’d organised being away from home for a while. I’ll never forget that drive. Though assumed dad would be up and talking loads like he normally does! I was wrong, I never got chance to speak to him again though I do wonder if he could hear us in the ICU. We sang to him and talked to him and held his hand. Said things that would normally make him laugh. Heartbreaking. Nobody should ever have to go through that! Well don’e on your post and stay strong! You are part of your dad and will live on with his memories keeping them alive! You go girl!!

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  8. I understand how you feel. It has been 19 years since my dad died and I still miss him. Father’s Day is different now. Some people like to go visit graves to remember their loved one. I am not one of those people. My Dad is not there. He’s in my heart and memories and that will need to be enough. XO

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  9. I’m sorry you’ve had to feel that pain.

    I guess you’ve got me wondering if I should be making a deal out of Father’s Day now! – sometimes seeing posts like this, no matter how messed up the relationship is, makes me consider reaching out/ making more of an effort with my own dad!

    Thank you for sharing- it’s also nice to hear you’ve had a step father who gives you good support- something to be grateful of! You’re a very strong soul and I’m so grateful for you sharing this post! 🙂

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