How to cope with grief on Father’s Day

Whilst a lot of people are planning Father’s Day breakfasts or Sunday lunches, some people are feeling sadness and despair.


Feeling heartache so deep often comes in a roller coaster of despair, depression, guilt and sometimes anger. The national celebration day is often a difficult time for those whose father has died. This article highlights some ways to look after yourself at this very difficult time.

Acknowledge, feel and release

The mind and body will heal better if you acknowledge, feel and release.

Everyone experiences grief differently, even differently from each loved one we may lose. It can feel like a dark winter that never turns to spring, or like being stuck inside a box, unable to find a way out.

One common theme in grief is numbness, which can last for a varied period of time. The alternative is pushing the feelings down, to avoid the anguish. This response may serve to protect us, allowing us to get through the day. This is especially true if we have a family to care for, or a job to hold down. But at some point, the feelings do surface. There is that old saying, “You need to feel to heal” and this is so true when losing someone like your father.

Set aside a time and some space each day to allow yourself to feel. This might be in the morning, in the evening when you have some time to yourself. Or it could be when you go for a dog walk.

Of course, we still need to function in the world, and there may still be a time and a place to be stoic, in order to protect ourselves. Nevertheless, setting aside this time for feeling will reassure the mind and the heart that they are being heard.

There needs to be time to feel the sadness, to acknowledge that despair and in doing so release it, little by little. Why not lie on the floor and cry, or walk in the field and shout up to the sky about how you feel? Or simply sit and speak to your father like he is still here and listening. Some people find it comforting to speak out loud for advice, even if there is no return in the conversation.

Sometimes the deeper mind can work on solutions when you ask out loud so it may have multiple benefits. Like when you ask out loud where you left something, and it miraculously shows up.

If you feel you can share your feelings with a trusted friend, this may also help with the healing.

Connect to your creativity

Paint, or draw a picture to celebrate his life, or one to express your emotions, if the relationship was complicated. Perhaps you like sewing or crocheting. Maybe create a blanket from some of his old clothes.

If you like gardening, why not create a sacred space in your garden (or in your house, using house plants) to sit and remember your father? You could use some of his favourite plants, or get a garden ornament that he would like. This may sound obvious, or a small act, but the creation of something special involves getting out to buy an item, physically moving to create and admiring the end product and giving yourself a sense of achievement.

How about starting a diary, and doodle or do mind maps of your feelings?

Whatever you do, does not have to be a work of art. But the artwork is a way to reach the deeper parts of your mind (the subconscious), where these unexpressed feelings can be stored.

Reconnect with your body

When we lose someone, a friendship, a house, or even a job, we tend to shut ourselves off from the world. This could be long-term sick leave from work or simply avoiding social engagements.

There is a good reason for this, as the mind and body are often in shock and need to rest and readjust to a new way of life. However, being socially isolated goes against nature (for most people). Being connected to others and sharing fun is a survival mechanism. There is a lot of research to show how being around other people can help to foster feelings of safety. It can also help take your mind off things by giving you new experiences to think about, as opposed to focusing on the loneliness.

The list of physical and social things to do is endless. However, Tai Chi or Qi Gong has amazing benefits for releasing the sadness, despair and anger energy that is trapped in the body and its organs. This low-impact method is usually available as a class, where you can meet other people, or on YouTube. My Qi Gong Master taught me that there is a Qi Gong for everything. So, I have been known to do a YouTube search for ‘Qi Gong for sadness’ and enjoy some short tutorials myself.

Apparently if one visited an Indigenous healer with feelings of depression, they would ask ‘When did you stop dancing, or singing?’ This form of self-expression, even if it’s just singing and dancing in the kitchen whilst cleaning is most beneficial to the feel-good hormones.

A daily walk has been proven to improve depression symptoms at the same level as a mild anti-depressant, which shows the benefit of light exercise (Dr. Ben Singh 2023).

Reconnect with others

If joining a club to meet new people, volunteering at a charity, or writing a letter to an old friend doesn’t appeal to you as a social way to interact, how about a cup of tea and a cake in a café or garden centre?

Even though you might not be ready to mix with others yet in a social setting, just being outdoors and people-watching is social interaction. If you are relaxing in a colourful garden centre, the greenery and foliage will also help lift your mood. This will help connect with feelings of calm, peace and tranquillity.

A walk amongst the trees and a smile to a passing stranger can sometimes be just the best pick me up when we are feeling lost.

In summary, coping with the loss of your father at any time is difficult, and Father’s Day is particularly hard. This can also be true if your relationship was complicated, or you feel that the loss was sudden and there are unfinished conversations.

Sometimes, we forget to take care of ourselves and invest that little bit of time in our own feelings and to nurture ourselves in the simplest of ways. I hope this helps remind you of the little things you can do to find connection with yourself and others.

If you would like to know how hypnotherapy could help with the issues raised in this article, please view my profile or book a no-obligation free telephone consultation.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Hull HU9 & HU12
Written by Suzannah Miller, BSc (Hons) Psych, CNLP, D. Hyp, (GQHP)
Hull HU9 & HU12

Suzannah Miller is a Clinical Hypnotherapist based in Hull for face to face appointments and works world wide with online clients.

I assist people using solution focused, psychosocial techniques to improve their mental health, confidence and over coming limiting self beliefs.

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