A day we celebrated our dads. We bought a card; we shopped for a special gift; a token to show them, on that day, how special they are to us and how much they meant to us. We would take them out for a Sunday roast or cook them a special meal at home. Perhaps you’d go on a long countryside walk as a family, ending up at your local pub for a pint with your dad. Or perhaps you’d wake them up as a child, being excited to make them breakfast in bed. Whatever you did and however you did it, we all used that day to show our dads how much they meant to us; to show them how deeply we appreciated them and how endlessly we love them.
This day now holds a totally different energy. It’s a day I now dread as I know it’s approaching. A day I wish I could by-pass and not have to do. I begin to remove myself from the outside world, in a way to protect myself, protect my energy as that day approaches. I’ll stand in supermarkets taken back by the huge displays of cards and gifts. Feeling overwhelmed by the adverts plastered on social media, plastered on the internet. Father’s Day used to be a day I enjoyed; a day I celebrated, but now it’s something totally different.
I find myself in awkward conversations on the run-up to Father’s Day. “What will you be doing for Father’s Day?” It’s like a blow to the heart every single time. I don’t know what I should be doing. Part of me wants to celebrate my dad, to hold him even closer to my heart on that day. But part of me still comes from that darker place; a place of deep sadness, a place of trauma. It makes me not want to celebrate at all and instead lock myself away for the day, waiting till it passes. I long for a skip button, so I can fast forward the whole day as quickly as possible. My husband, Chris, is a dad himself to our children. So for me, I find that another hurdle. I want him to be celebrated by our kids. I want him to feel all the love like me and my siblings did for my dad on Father’s Day. But it is such a battle for me now, to look past my own pain and embrace the joy for others on that day. It’s something I know I need to do, for my children and for him. They all deserve it but it doesn’t come without its challenges.
I often feel like I’m becoming stronger around my grief, beginning to ‘cope’ but what even is coping. Why do we hold that expectation of ourselves? We are so focussed on the ‘coping’ and then not realising that grief is endless. It will always be endless, there will always be times I feel strong but then there will always be a time I don’t and that’s ok.
I read a quote this week that was sent to me by my friend who also lost her dad a year before me. Her dad and mine were great friends and I often turn to her for guidance as I know her journey without her dad started before mine. So I turn to her for that reassurance to know that how I feel is normal. When my Dad passed, she turned to me at his funeral and said “Welcome to the club, babe. It’s a club none of us wanted to be in or would choose to be in but we’re in it together,” and that’s reassurance in itself. To not feel alone; to realise I’m not the only person in the world who feels this way, who feels this grief. That statement meant more than she’d probably realised. The quote she sent me is by another writer, about the waves of grief, about how it can come and go. I encourage you to read now and really feel the words as their written…
The best way I can describe grief to someone who has not experienced the loss of a loved one is by asking them to imagine they are on the beach.
You’re stood in the sea. The water is just above your ankles. You are facing inland. You know there are waves approaching behind you but you don’t know when they’ll reach.
Even so, often a wave crashes against you, momentarily taking your breath away. It comes from nowhere and with no warning.
Most of the time, these waves are manageable. You are able to stay upright and, although in shock, you survive it.
But every so often a huge wave will come out of nowhere and completely knock you off your feet. You are drenched, you can’t catch your breath and it can be a struggle to get back to your feet.
But you eventually do, sometimes, with the help of a friend or family member. But you do get back up and carry on.
Waiting for the next wave.
Author- Jess Gibbon
Anyone who is on their own journey with grief will know those waves all too well. They will know the true power grief holds. That unpredictable power that out of nowhere can sweep us off our feet, bringing us back to the beginning, right back to the pain. Father’s Day, without a Father, isn’t something any of us chose. We didn’t choose to spend this day apart from our dads. But with that, look at the gift that gives us. The power in that; the power that shows us just how important these days are. I know personally from this I can take so much. I can find the joy in other celebrations, truly immersing myself in them, embracing every part, knowing and feeling just how precious all these moments are. Knowing that those moments can change so quickly and without realising, those memories become days we long to be able to rewind back to, to live again.
Life is unpredictable. Life isn’t a given; it’s not a guarantee, but life is wonderful. My dad would always talk about our planet, our human connections, in complete awe of how incredible it all is, and I’d notice this but never truly would I feel it. Now I do. I got 29 years of Father’s Days with you and I am grateful for every single one. We may not be together psychically today but I know, within this world and everything incredible in it, that we are side-by-side, every day, loving one another as we always did, every step of the way.
Happy Father’s Day Dad x
My Darling today,
Feel that love, feel its power. The blessing and evidence of all the time we got to share.
Acknowledge your sadness, witness your pain, but move it through you.
You miss me and I miss you but I am never far.
In every moment, every struggle, in all the darkness, I am there, by your side.
You are the light, you hold the power within you.
I’m with you, today, tomorrow, and always.