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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Stone, LMHC

Father's Day: The Love and The Loss

"Happy Father's Day!" That phrase can be wonderful, and it can also sometimes be simultaneously difficult. Father's Day may be "happy" yet it can also be painful.

For Fathers: This day can be joyous and full of fun. It can also be filled with mixed emotions. Perhaps you're struggling with fatherhood, your identity as a father, or struggling with missing a father/father figure of your own. For single fathers, you may be missing out on time with your children or family, or a celebration of your fatherhood and contributions.

For those who are fathers and who have lost a child or children: Father's Day can be especially difficult. Not only is it incredibly difficult to lose a child of your own, the label of being a "father" and the very essence of fatherhood can feel overwhelmingly difficult during this time.

For those who want child(ren) but are unable to, it hasn't happened yet, or they've experienced pregnancy loss: The yearning, loss, or grief can be staggering. It can be challenging to be around, see, or acknowledge other fathers when the desire is there for your own fatherhood.

For those who have had a father/spouse who is ill or who they have lost, been estranged from, or never knew: While we may take time to celebrate those around us who are fathers or father figures, the pang of loss, significant illness, or impending loss can be felt far and wide. Holidays, anniversaries, birth dates, special events, etc. can all be joyous events and simultaneously difficult. There can be many memories, questions, and feelings which can come up.

There are so many scenarios which cannot be fully identified in a single blog post, but you get the larger idea here.

In any case, loss is an unfortunate fact of life. Holidays and dates such as Father's Day can bring up the loss of a father or child - from neglect, poor parenting, abandonment, infertility, loss of the hope of having children, loss of pregnancy or the passing of a child, spouse/partner, or father, or loss by our own choice to distance ourselves from someone who is toxic to us. It can be difficult to sit with those feelings of loss at any time, but especially on holidays.

If you're experiencing difficult feelings on Father's Day, I encourage you to focus on the positives. Focus on:

  • the wonderful memories you have,

  • those who stepped up or in to support you,

  • the step, adoptive, or father figures who have helped support and shape you,

  • the children who are in your life that you can make a positive impact on their lives,

  • the single mother/widow whose courage, strength, and love for you is to be commended,

  • the fur dads who love their fur-babies as if they were human babies,

  • the resilience you possess that allows you to get through the difficult times, and/or

  • other supporters, successes (or small steps/wins), or identities which you may have.

On Father's Day, you can decide what's right for you. You may choose to celebrate, or you may choose to set healthy boundaries and take time for yourself, honor your loved one(s) who have passed, or otherwise celebrate or process this day in your own way.

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