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Navigating Father’s Day: tips from widowed parents

Father’s Day can be especially difficult for families who have lost their dad or another special male role model in their life. It can be difficult to avoid Father’s Day with adverts and social media posts being a constant reminder that your dad is no longer here.

Our Full Circle partners at the peer support charity WAY Widowed and Young have some advice from their members about how they navigate difficult dates like Father’s Day:

I asked the children what they wanted to do. I found the last Father’s Day cards they had given him, and we put those up. We looked at photographs and shared our memories. In the evening, we had his favourite takeaway. A very simplistic day, with not too much intensity – symbolic, but also completely led by the children.

WAY Member

I use it as a day for my kids and I to spend a little time connecting in a peaceful way.

WAY Member

We are choosing not to acknowledge it. We can sometimes be our own worst enemies. In reality, they are just made up, we don’t have to engage with them if we don’t choose to.

WAY Member

My advice to other widowed dads, particularly if you have young kids, is don’t be afraid to plan it yourself. It doesn’t have to be a sad day. Try and make it a positive day. As widowed fathers, we should give ourselves a pat on the back. We’ve worked hard to raise our children, and Father’s Day is an opportunity to treat ourselves.

WAY Member

My daughter and I have decided to have a princess tea on Father’s Day – no boys allowed type thing. I asked her what she wanted to do. I don’t think that would suit many but I’m pleased I asked her what she wanted to do so we have a plan and an answer when the time comes.

Orlanda, WAY Member

I’ve found our best way of coping is to be with people who understand so we go on the WAY weekend away in Derbyshire. It helps both my twins and I get through and understand there are others feeling the same way. [This Father’s Day weekend], we are looking forward to catching up with some of the families we met last year and meeting new families.

WAY Member

I spend the day doing something fun with my children. They made me handmade cards last year.

WAY Member

When my daughter was smaller, I spoke with her nursery to see if they had any plans for marking the day, and we discussed how this could be handled sensitively for her to avoid her feeling left out. Now she’s a bit older, I lean into the day a bit more. She likes to chat about her dad and hear stories about him. So, for Father’s Day, I try to do some things that my husband enjoyed, and I share lots of stories and pictures from our life before she arrived. Last year we did a sunrise (ish) walk to and ate croissants together. I’m think we’ll do similar this year!

Rachel, WAY Member

More tips from young widowed people who are part of WAY Widowed and Young’s peer support network:

“There is no right or wrong; do what feels right for you and your children.”

“In the past I have tended to try and avoid going anywhere I might be reminded on the day itself. It’s not always possible, but I have started to recognise my triggers.”

“We remember them every day. Life is hard enough, so we don’t need to put ourselves through these days if they are too painful for us.”

“For me, life still goes on and it’s how we choose to show the love we have for our lost partners by being able to talk about them, acknowledge them and remember the awesome times we had.”

“We donate the money that we would have spent on presents to various charities in his memory. It feels like we’re still doing something for him.”

“You have to do whatever works for you. You don’t have to do anything, but equally you don’t have to do nothing.”

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About WAY

The WAY Widowed and Young community offers a safe space to talk to other people (both with and without children) who understand how it feels to be widowed at a young age.

Find out how WAY can support you at www.widowedandyoung.org.uk

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