When You Grieve on Father’s Day

Holidays can be tough when you’ve lost someone. A day when we are supposed to be celebrating a loved one can be especially rough. We sometimes grieve instead of celebrating. For my family, one of those days we grieve is Father’s Day.

Twenty-six for us. It has been twenty-six years since our father went home to be with Jesus. For those who haven’t lost someone, when we discuss the distance between now and 1998, it can be challenging to understand how profound the sense of loss still is for us.

I was two weeks shy of entering my senior year of high school, but at least I have solid memories to keep him alive in my mind. My baby sister was only six years old when he died. I remember her not understanding death.

After all was said and done at the hospital, the funeral, and a few weeks spent with grandparents, I remember returning home and feeling uncomfortable with anyone else sitting on his spot on the couch while she looked out the window asking when daddy would be home again.

Over the last two-plus decades, we have continued to tell her stories to fill in the unfair gap in her memories. When you grieve on Father’s Day or any other day, I have found that taking the time to remember the person provides comfort. Scripture and prayer have also been helpful. Remember Matthew 5:4 (NIV): “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Scriptures About Grief and Mourning

There are many Bible verses around grief, mourning, comfort and healing.

Why is that?

I think our heavenly Father ensured these words made it to the text because, in His grand design, He knew His children would need them.

Psalm 34:18 (NIV) tells us, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” As much as loss hurts, God is always near.

Our biblical heroes are no more immune to grief than other mortals. King David, for instance, when his son died, in 2 Samuel 18:33 (NIV), “The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!” Given what we know of King David, to see his grief on full display like this lets us realize the universality of loss and grief.

If that is not enough to make the point that no one is safe from the deep sorrow of losing people we love, consider Jesus. He grieved the loss of his cousin, John the Baptist, and His friend, Lazarus. Matthew 14:13 (NIV) says, “When Jesus heard what had happened [the execution of John the Baptist], he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.”

“Jesus wept [over Lazarus’ death],”John 11:35 (NIV). Jesus cried over Lazarus but raised him from the dead. We know that we will see the people we love again. But that doesn’t mean the hurt isn’t extreme. God, in His humanity, felt that grief, one of many burdens He carried to Calvary for all of us.

In Revelation 21:4 (NIV), we are promised a future reunited with loved ones where pain and grief will be no more, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Over the years, I have learned to lean heavily on the Bible for support. When we read the scriptures and spend that time with God, we open the door for our brokenhearted self to heal and to have our wounds bound up” Psalm 147:3 (NIV).

Honoring the Memory of a Loved One

We had a box that contained history we knew nothing about. It sat for well over a decade in the bottom of a closet. Our dad was drafted during the Vietnam War and served two tours. In this box, there were photos, news clippings, certificates he had earned, and medals he never discussed.

One year, for Father’s Day, I made my mom a scrapbook from that box. Making the gift was cathartic for me. It brought our mom a lot of joy. And now, it sits on the mantle at my sister’s house. For her, those images brought him back to life in her mind.

She and I have had many conversations since then about how sad we are that our husbands and children never got to meet him. He did the best Donald Duck voice and could rough house, catch kids midair and wrestle—our kids would have adored him.

How can we make sure that our loved one’s memory lives on?

  1. Share photos and tell the stories.
  2. Visit their grave and take the children.
  3. Make a scrapbook.
  4. Support a cause that mattered to them and consider donating in their name.
  5. Try out experiences that the person enjoyed – read favorite books, watch favorite movies and TV shows, listen to the music they loved. Think about them.
  6. Keep on living your best life. They are there even if you can’t see them. They love you and are so proud of you. Remember, you will be together again.

Remembering Your Loved Ones

When someone we love dies, the pain radius is extra sensitive and fills the space in our hearts.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds, especially the ones the eyes can’t see. But it does close in the pain radius, so it doesn’t take up all the space.

Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and Father’s Day are days on which tender sensitivity sometimes reactivates and stings. Suppose you are supporting someone who has experienced loss; text or call them. You don’t have to say much or bring the event up; simply saying they are on your heart helps.

If you are hurting this Father’s Day, remember you are not alone, and keep in mind John 16:33 (NIV): “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

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