When Father’s Day is bittersweet

 As Father’s Day approaches, I try not to pay attention, and when it’s here, to be honest, I dread it.

And I know I’m not alone.

All the holidays become harder to push through when we lose someone close to us. But eventually, as time marches on, even though we always feel that empty space, we eventually become used to it. Scar tissue forms covering that gaping hole in plain sight. You can tweak your routine and form new traditions and new family members enter your circle, whether it’s a new spouse, new in-laws, a new baby, or maybe new friends.

But Father’s Day is different. You can’t change what goes on that day. There is only one tradition and that is centered around fathers. Social media posts wishing fathers a great day with photo collages of us and dad at various ages, advertisements flood the airwaves with gift ideas and all the are stores laden with stereotypical dad stuff: grilling accessories, golf attire, beer making kits. There’s SUVs with big bows on top. (Do people buy ties anymore?) There is no avoiding it. I imagine it is like what non-Christians endure at Christmas. Just make it be over.

For me it is bittersweet. I am in my late 50’s, and I still have my father, and I am grateful for that, he is among the best, no doubt. But it’s for my twenty-something children that the pit in my stomach subsists. Their father is no longer with us, passing away prematurely, when they were both still in college. This left us with an unimaginable shattering void in our family of four. My daughter will never have her father walk her down the aisle, and that is crushing for me, because I can’t change it. I can’t make this day better for them. Every year, Father’s Day still rolls around, and every year, I’m just as powerless.

There is nothing to be done though. Just push through, be thankful for who and what you have, and treasure the irreplaceable memories that are part of your core. I work very hard at not being resentful because that is a dark and even lonelier path to take. Hug the people close to you often. Bond with and support others like you, who have experienced a similar loss but are at a different stage. Try to be there for the ones at the beginning of that path and look for guidance from the ones who are even further down that road.

This year, I decided to write about it. Next year, I’m not sure.