Navigating Father’s Day When Your Dad Has Passed Away

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When you struggle with infertility, celebrations like Mother’s and Father’s Day can be difficult. During the five plus years that we were trying to conceive, my husband and I avoided Facebook during holidays because it was painful to see everyone – but us, it seemed – posing happily with their children. After finally conceiving and getting through the first two trimesters, we let ourselves begin to dream. Especially as we neared the holiday season. How wonderful our first Mother’s and Father’s Days were going to be!

Just two days before Christmas, though, we got a call we never could have anticipated. My father was in the wrong place at the wrong time the previous night and had been killed in a freak car accident. I struggled through the last two months of my pregnancy and had an incredibly difficult time as a new mom under the weight of my still-fresh grief.

pregnant woman
Losing my dad during my last trimester made the final months of my pregnancy bittersweet.

One day toward the end of my pregnancy, I was in line at the grocery store, waiting to pick up my prescription. There was an older gentleman in front of me. He paid with cash and asked the pharmacist if she could please give him the change in quarters. His grandchildren would be visiting soon, and he always gave them quarters when they visited. I silently sobbed into my sweater with the realization that both my father and my son were robbed of such a tradition.

As my first Mother’s Day came around, I was in a slightly better head-space. I enjoyed taking photos with my then three-month-old and saying cheesy things like, “I’m so happy you made me a mama!” My husband went above and beyond to make my first Mother’s Day extra special. I wanted to do the same for him with Father’s Day. However, I didn’t realize how complicated his first Father’s Day would be for me the first Father’s Day without my dad.

When I went to Target to buy all the Father’s Day cards in the store – husband, daddy, uncle, pop, papa, etc. – I quickly averted my eyes from the “from daughter” cards. I tried to stay focused on finding a card from our son to my husband. I happened to pick up a card that would have been one I’d have selected for my dad. I immediately burst into tears in the middle of the aisle.

crying woman
The waves of grief hit me without warning.

“OK,” I thought, as I collected myself and walked out of the store, “I got it out of my system.” Waking up on Father’s Day, I was determined that the day was going to be about my husband, not my loss. Unfortunately, feelings and grief don’t work that way. My husband was gracious about it and continues to be four Father’s Days later.

It’s a day, I’ve learned, that will cause me mixed emotions. There will be happiness for my husband’s relationship with our son and pride for the wonderful father my husband is. But also wistfulness of Father’s Days past and sadness that I can no longer pick up the phone and tell my own daddy how grateful I am for him.

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The new mom of a baby boy, Cheryl Glantz Nail started her blogging and freelance writing career in 2008. She has written articles for several blogs and websites, including 24/Savvy and InterfaithFamily.com. Shortly after moving to Columbia, she turned her love of content writing and social media into a career in communications, currently serving as the Community Relations Director for a local non-profit. Prior to this career change, she enjoyed 10 years in education, both in the classroom and as a curriculum developer. When she isn't in front of her computer or wiping up baby drool, Cheryl can be found curled up with a young adult novel and a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream, looking at cats on Instagram, or attempting to be artsy. She blogs at Take a Second Glantz (www.secondglantz.com/blog), trolls Pinterest for recipes she'll probably never cook, and sleep tweets during late-night feedings.

2 COMMENTS

  1. This will be my 25 year old daughter’s first Father’s Day with her dad(my ex-husband), who passed away April 23. It has been less than a month and my daughter has been stoic. She does not often express her feelings. I am thinking about naming a star after her dad as a tribute, and giving it to my daughter on the day. I am not sure if that is the right choice, but it is a start.

    • I think that’s a beautiful tribute! My mother also described me as stoic after my father died, and I probably was for longer than was maybe healthy, but she and I grieve very differently. Wishing you both all the best as you navigate this first Father’s Day.

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