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This One Small Thing Allows Me To Survive Father's Day Without My Father.
Parenting

This One Small Thing Allows Me To Survive Father's Day Without My Father.


Father's Day can be a wonderful occasion if you have a good relationship with your father and he is still alive; however, not everyone is so fortunate.

My father was a wonderful father, but I only had him for 16 years; he died eight years ago, in May 2013, at the age of 46, from a brain tumor.

Until that point, Father's Day had been a happy occasion for my family: it was a chance to spend time together reflecting on what we loved about my father, his embarrassing jokes, his mismatched outfits (due to his colorblindness or sense of humor, we couldn't tell), and whatever adventure he had planned for us.

I felt like I was missing a piece of myself after my father died, and I went from anger to sadness in a matter of moments, many times per day.

Father's Day arrived a few weeks after my father died, and my rage erupted at every store that had a designated "Gifts for Dad" section. Every "You're the best, Dad" and "Love you, Dad" card on the shelf made me feel as though the world was rubbing in their love and my loss. I sat staring at the cards on my friends' mantels.

I can't avoid the human experience of loss, but I can avoid the jarring experience of receiving an email reminding me that I wish I could be celebrating my father's birthday.

Even in my own home, I couldn't escape the reminder; my email inbox was flooded with daily messages about "not forgetting Dad this Father's Day" and what gifts I should buy. The bittersweet truth is that when you've lost someone, you never forget them, and material items are meaningless when there's no physical way to show your love anymore.

Over the years, I've been grateful that some businesses have begun to send out an alert prior to their Father's Day marketing campaigns, giving me the option to opt out of being reminded of my loss, which I gladly do.

It's a thoughtful initiative, no doubt initiated by those who have experienced grief, and I hope it becomes the norm for all days of supposed celebration in the future.

For me, it means that when I'm in the safety and comfort of my own home, I'm not reminded of the fact that I'm missing out on the physical part of Father's Day; I'm free of the targeted marketing that I can't avoid in stores; and I'm at peace knowing that the next thing I read won't remind me of how much I miss my father.

I can't avoid the human experience of loss, but I can avoid the upsetting experience of receiving an email reminding me that I wish I could be celebrating my father.

I feel like I'm missing out on Father's Day, but by loving and losing my father, I've learned to celebrate him more frequently. My father's memories and the appreciation I have for our relationship are still a big part of my adult life, even almost a decade after he died.

Although he left my life and this world at a young age, I'm grateful for the time we had together and that I knew my wonderful father at all. This trajectory has been aided by consideration for others, and I'm now more likely to support a brand if it allows me to opt out of Father's Day messaging.

I still go to my father's grave with my family, raise a toast to him, and share a photo from the depths of my archive on Instagram because I want to participate in the collective honoring of the men who shaped us. It'll never be the same day, but I'm glad that I can now celebrate my father's memory with fewer reminders that I'm missing out on celebrating him in person.

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