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Remembering dad 2017-News-18.6.17

Sunday 18 June 2017

As talk of Father’s Day fast approaches, it can be a difficult time for many children and families who have had their Dad or Daddy die, but it can also be a poignant and good time to ‘celebrate’ and share lots of positive memories.

Jenny (now 20) says:

“My Dad died when I was 17. Whilst I didn’t know him very long – he had a big impact on my life and still does. I remember his laugh, his lack of DIY skills and his pancake tossing skills. The importance of honesty and having fun were two life principles I learnt from my Dad and I still think about things like this especially around Father’s Day.”

We learn many early lessons from our families and these can remain important even after that special person has died. Father’s Day is also an opportunity to reflect and be thankful for those Dads who are no longer physically present but will often continue to be emotionally present in our lives.

After a death, adults can be reluctant to talk to children and young people about family members that have died for fear of upsetting them.  Children often find talking about memories comforting and reassuring so don’t avoid talking the subject; be guided by the child’s responses.  Questions will indicate they want to know and learn more about their loved one.

In terms of acknowledging Dad on Father’s Day it is helpful to gently raise the topic in advance to find out how children want to handle this day.  We all grieve differently and some may want to celebrate their Dad whilst others may prefer not to.  Avoiding talking about the subject can add to their grief; their thoughts and feelings should always be respected.  

“I will be thinking of my Dad on Father’s Day and maybe make some pancakes in his memory.  Although no-one can toss a pancake as well as him…..”

For children wanting ideas on how to remember Dad in their own way on Father’s Day, why not consider some of the following ideas:-

Make a Father’s Day card to put in a special place (memory box, graveyard, mantelpiece).

Watch a family film or Dad’s favourite film

Visit the graveyard

Play football or another sport enjoyed by Dad

Ask friends and family to share some new memories

Cook his favourite meal

Revisit a day-out you experienced previously with Dad

Look through family photos

Create an online memorial website –

Remind teachers to think of ways to include a bereaved child in Father’s Day activities.

It’s OK for children to be happy and it’s OK for them to be sad about Dad on Father’s Day.  Be there for them at their own pace and provide support. Their response to Father’s Day is likely to change over time depending on their age and their grief journey.  


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