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 dadó 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.”

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By Anne-Marie Botek, Editor






Donna T.
Donna T.4 days ago

thank you

Paul Standeven
Paul Standeven4 days ago

this assumes that your father was a positive figure. Mine was a provider, but no father-figure at all. He avoided involvement, and behaved abusively. I simply don't think of his as a father, and have no connection to Father's Day

Alex G.
Alex G.4 days ago

Truthfully, I pretty much did all I could to pretend that Father's Day never happened. My father died last October, and thinking about it is still painful for me. I have dreams about him quite often, thinking about all the things we did together. All the fun times we had. All the times we spent just relaxing. All the fun times we could have had together if he was still here. Since my father isn't here to enjoy Father's Day with me, I just pretty much went about my whole day deliberately trying to think of other things, because I really don't want to celebrate Father's Day without him.

Virginia Belder
Virginia Belder5 days ago


Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola5 days ago

thank you for sharing

Carol S.
Carol S.6 days ago

My dad left us 17 years ago on Father's Day. He is still missed.

Joemar Karvelis
Joemar Karvelis6 days ago


Shawna S.
Shawna S.6 days ago

My Dad recently passed to the great beyond. May 5, 1942 - June 6, 2016.
I worked on Father's Day. It was one of the hardest days of my life.
My Dad donated his body to science in a province thousands of miles away. His friends there are holding a Celebration of Life for him. I'm attending, this coming Saturday, June 25.
My sincerest condolences to all who have lost their Dad... or anyone close to them.
Celebrate their lives, however short or long.
"Why not live, while you can move?" KC (my Dad)