How to Handle Father’s Day When Dad Has Passed Away

For those who’ve lost their father, June’s annual day of celebration can morph into a time of magnified mourning. But the holiday also offers an opportunity to deal with the grief of a beloved father’s absence, while honoring the memory of his spirit.

Write him a letter: Writing can be a cathartic exercise, regardless of where you are in the grieving process. Compose some prose about your dad— talk about how he made you feel, memories you shared, things you wish you’d had the opportunity to tell him. You may even want to peruse the greeting card aisles and purchase a Father’s Day card to go along with the note.

Give him a gift: Just because your father has passed doesn’t mean that you can’t give him a gift that will contribute to his enduring legacy. Volunteer or donate money to his favorite charity in his name. If he didn’t have a preferred cause, choose an organization related to something he was passionate about. For instance, if your father loved camping along the banks of the local river, you could spend some time picking up trash in that area.

Help his legacy live on: Recruit other family members and friends who knew your father well and have them share their thoughts and memories of him. You may decide to put together a memory book by having people send in their anecdotes and photos, or just get together around the dining room table to tell stories. Below are some tributes, written by family caregivers, in honor of their departed fathers:

“I see my dad in my children. How proud my father would be. Dad wasn’t rich or famous but the legacy he left can’t be measured. The love and nurturing he had for me has passed down to my son and now his daughter. This is my tribute to the greatest man I’ve ever known, my dad.”

“My father was a family man. He worked hard at a job he hated to provide for his wife and children. The harshest words I ever heard coming out of my father’s mouth toward my mother was to call her a ‘birdbrain.’ I remember my father kissing my mother passionately right in the middle of the kitchen, in broad daylight…in front of us kids. My father taught me how to think for myself, to stand on my own two feet, to hold a good moral compass and to value family.”

“He was always so encouraging. He was meticulous, and as neat as he could be. When he cooked, and served he would make the plate sing by decorating it and it seemed to come alive. He was the most compassionate person I have ever known. I loved to see him shine his shoes and always looked for that in a man, (silly I know but to me there’s nothing like shiny shoes). He loved his family, loved his job and was wonderful at supplying for his family.”

“My dad was wonderful. I adored him and still to this day. He was kind, gentle and caring. He set a good example. He had a heart of gold. He loved me unconditionally. The day he died was the saddest day of my life. He lives on in me and my kids and we feel so blessed to have had him in our lives.”

“I have a lot of good memories of my dad enough to write a book, but when I think of my father, fairness, caring and integrity come to mind. It makes me feel good all of the good things and good deeds my dad did in his life. He taught me loyalty. He taught me how to never give up or give in. He taught me the value of a tree, a fish and the smallest and weakest of creatures. He taught me not to be afraid of death or anything else, but to live life to the fullest. He taught me be self-employed and self-reliant and never get stuck in a job that wasn’t worth doing. He taught me not to judge people by income or race, but by their good deeds. He was a true gentleman and was also a role model for many a young man.”

The Best Gift You Can Give Your Father for Father’s Day
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The Uniquely Touching Way One Man Mourned His Wife
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Caregiving is All About Love

By Anne-Marie Botek, Editor


Annie L.
Annie L.about a year ago

"Great list! Another great gift idea for Dad's on Father's Day is freshly ground spices and rubs from RawSpiceBar ( They have some cool, unique chiles and include recipes as well. It's a really fun family idea too!"

Alicia Coria
Alicia C.1 years ago

Remembering my father brings tears to my eyes. He passed 2 months ago, and there isn’t a day that goes by in which I don’t miss him.
He cooked amazingly, he was great with children and he was a very quiet person, sometimes too quiet.
I guess what I regret the most is that my children (if I ever get to have any) won’t meet him, for as I said, he was great with them, and patient and funny.
He also loved animals and his pets miss him as much as I do.

Holli DuShane
Holli DuShane1 years ago

A great way to ensure that the good memories live on in your heart and to say the things you never got to say.

Dave C.
Dave C.1 years ago

thanks, again.......

Katherine May Williams

A family I know lost their beloved dad suddenly and unexpectedly just two weeks ago (less than a week before fathers day). He wasn't old and his youngest child is still a teenager. I know they all absolutely adored him (and he them.) It's very very hard. I thought of them (his wife and three children) all day on Fathers Day last weekend and hoped they were finding some way to be happy and remember their dad as the wonderful man he was. Maybe be thankful that they had him for as long as they did. But.. god, I can't even imagine how hard it must've been.

Rhonda B.
Rhonda B.1 years ago

Thank you

Janis K.
Janis K.1 years ago

Thanks for posting.

Panchali Yapa
Panchali Yapa1 years ago

Thank you

Maggie Davey
Maggie D.1 years ago

My father died 36 years ago and I miss him still. Today I will use butterfly points to plant trees in his memory. I am so very lucky to have had him in my life and so grateful.

tanzy t.
tanzy t.1 years ago

Great ideas.