Parental Loss: How to Support a Loved One Grieving on Father's Day by Dr. Sanam Hafeez
Father’s Day is this Sunday, June 19. For those lucky enough to have a father in their lives, this is typically a joyous family day. For those who have experienced a paternal loss, whether recent or many years ago, this day can evoke grief and a looming cloud of sadness.
What can you do to support? What should you say to offer words of comfort and what should you avoid? How can you help? Here are some tips on supporting friends and loved ones during this holiday.
What to Say and Do
Do something special for your friend that reminds them of their father. If you can be there in person and their father loved to play chess with your friend, come by with a chess set and play a game together. If you can't be there in person, send a cute memento that will remind them of their dad, perhaps a sports team they loved, a hobby, a favorite song or anything that personalizes a memory for them.
Call your friend before Father's Day, especially if the loss is recent. Ask them how they will plan to spend the day. Particularly with a recent loss, this day can be very traumatic. See what you can do or suggest to make the day less painful for them. This could mean inviting them to join your family, going to see them, or just strategizing a plan of action to help them get through the day.
Words of Support You Can Offer
- I am supporting you today and everyday.
- Your father loved you very much.
- Take as long as you need to mourn.
- Always remember your father is proud of the person you are.
- It’s OK to feel the way you do.
Phrases to Avoid
- At least your father lived a long life.
- He’s now in a better place.
- I totally know how you feel.
- You got this, be strong.
Don't complain about your father/family. No matter how "bad" you might think your father is, your grieving friend would change places in a heartbeat. It is insensitive to bring up any sentiments about not wanting to see or be with your father on Father's Day.
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