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Enjoying Father’s Day without Dad

Every year there are certain annual events that come around and we have no choice but to live through these days, which can be especially difficult in bereavement.

We’re fast approaching Father’s Day and this can be good, awful or a non-starter depending on the relationship you had (or didn’t have) with your dad.  It doesn’t matter if your dad died when you were 6, 16, 36 or 66 – he was still your dad and the loss of him is always a loss.

Cathy Sosoli, Lead for Patient and Family Support Team at St Catherine’s, tells us: “We often tell people to create a plan for important dates.  One plan for what you want to do and a second plan if you find you cannot face your first plan! This year I asked my daughter, Rasela, to share with us her lessons learned from Father’s Day.  My husband died in 1995 from lung cancer and my daughter was only 3 ½ years old. As you read her insights, I wonder what your own insights are around your experiences.”

Father’s Day Lessons by Rasela Sosoli

“Father’s Day – the glorious day each year when Dads are waking up to breakfast in bed, sons and daughters are scoping out the best socks and ties to give as  gifts and social media is flooded with photos, videos and memories in dedication to their Father’s.

 I guess that’s why I hated it so much.

 I never got to make my father breakfast in bed, never got to buy him boring socks or ugly ties and the only photos I have to post on my Instagram account are either pre 1995, or of the headstone where he’s buried.

 Fear not! This blog is not all sad face emojis and violin music playing softly in the background. Over the last few years, I’ve learnt different things each year that have helped me to not just cope, but embrace and even enjoy Father’s Day every year.

 Lesson 1:  Father’s Day 2011

Writing a song. Obviously this isn’t how everyone operates but the point was recognising that I had feelings about it that I had supressed because I was so young when he passed. Once I had brought them to the surface, I was able to deal with them in a way that opened up a new level of understanding about how I’m wired to deal with things that not only affect me negatively, but how I can utilise them for something productive.

Lesson 2:  Father’s Day 2015

Extended family time.  No glorious occasion, just a meal and being together. There were a couple of: “I remember when your Dad used to…” stories that were funny, inspiring and made me feel a little bit closer to everyone, but it wasn’t the main focus.  Spending time with people who were close to my Dad gave me a bigger picture of him and helped me maintain an image of the life he lived and not the way it ended – he wouldn’t want me to remember him like that.

 Lesson 3:  Father’s Day 2017

Talking. I found myself reminiscing on all the times I would go to the cemetery as a teenager and even still as a young adult and realised, it was usually when I didn’t know where to go or I was going through something hard that I would go there and talk things out – only this time I realised it wasn’t that healthy. Only talking about your problems with someone who can’t talk back doesn’t help you move forward, it keeps you in a cycle.  Talking with people who can talk back helps open up new ways of thinking and sharing the load is always better than carrying it myself. 

 This brings me to my last lesson. The one thing all of these lessons had in common were people. There was always someone to talk to. Throughout the years I’ve learned to open up more to those around me who genuinely care. I know who I can trust and when to say to someone “I’m not doing too well today” because honestly, even 20+ years on, some days it just feels fresh, and I’ve learnt that’s okay.

I miss my Dad every day, but I’ve learnt to be thankful for the life I have. Father’s Day is a time where I can look at how I’m really living and what I can do to make sure when I see him again I can say: “You’ll never believe the amazing stories I have to share with you”.

Right now, I’m just working on writing them

Find out more about our bereavement services at St Catherine’s here: www.stch.org.uk/our-services/bereavement-support/ 

Written by Cathy Sosoli and Rasela Sosoli

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