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Family Support Blog Series: Father’s Day for Grieving Families

[…] days such as Father’s Day can highlight the absence of a father or a child.  No matter how many years it has been since the last Father’s Day spent together, […]

Gift of Life recognizes Father’s Day can be especially hard for bereaved fathers and bereaved children.  While ordinary days can still include moments of sadness and longing, days such as Father’s Day can highlight the absence of a father or a child.  No matter how many years it has been since the last Father’s Day spent together, the day can remain emotional and challenging.

We asked some donor fathers and donor children to share with us how they spend Father’s Day. We hope their words will provide comfort to those grieving on Father’s Day.

“Leading up to Father’s Day, I think the hardest part is the constant reminders of the upcoming holiday on either television commercials, print advertisements, and of course the internet. Ads showing fathers playing with their kids definitely gets to me as it serves as a reminder that my time with my dad was cut short. As the years have gone by and as I’ve gotten older, the holiday hasn’t gotten easier, but I have definitely become used to it. The build-up to the day is probably worse than the day itself. Because we spend the day as a family laughing and remembering my dad, it usually ends up not being that bad. For me, I would say the worst part about the day of Father’s Day is going on social media and seeing everyone I’m friends with posting pictures with their dads. It honestly does bring some jealousy into my grief to see everyone around me flaunt how great their dads are, while I spend the day wishing my friends could meet him, I could talk to him, or even just give him a hug.” —Emma R., donor daughter.

“For every email I get from a store about what I should buy my dad for Father’s Day, my heart sinks a little more.  Seeing the Father’s Day cards at the store is a subtle reminder that I don’t need to purchase one.  No one can ever fix the emptiness one feels when they lose their dad.  I find that it helps when a friend reaches out to acknowledge how that day can be hard for me.  My friends have been very supportive of me in the weeks leading up to Father’s Day which is coincidently around both my father’s birthday and mine.  I also find it helpful to turn a painful loss into a positive experience.  Last year, the Friday before Father’s Day, we held a memorial golf tournament in my dad’s name.  The money raised benefits scholarships for high school seniors.  This Friday, June 16th, will be the second annual memorial golf tournament.  I am so happy to keep his legacy alive.  (Fun fact: each golfer will be getting a Gift of Life wristband and we will be promoting that my dad was an organ donor.)” – Makala A., donor daughter

“Father’s Day is always an emotional roller-coaster for me.  I spend most of the day thinking about my son, Cecil, and how he coming into the world made me a ‘father’ but the love we shared made me ‘Dad.’ I always go to the cemetery and spend time at his site.   Then I think about how thankful I am that my father, at the age of 79, is still around for us to share special days and I still have my daughter in my life.  In short, it’s a roller-coaster of emotion and love as I have found most holidays are with my son passing.” –Cecil B., donor father

“Because of my other two children, I can concentrate on them on Father’s Day. Where there are many other days that I think about and reminisce about my daughter, Melissa.  It doesn’t mean that her loss is any less or hurts less, it’s just that my other children have always been there for us and helped to fill the void and share the loss and pain with us. I’ll always have and hold Melissa and my memories of her in my heart! The one thing I do think about is, as the Kenny Chesney song asks, “Who you’d be today.” Over the years I’ve listened to and watched that music video many, many times. And it always brings tears to my eyes and memories of Melissa and thoughts of who she would be today.” –Bruce E., donor father

There are many good articles about Father’s Day as well and we have included links to a few of them below.

Father’s Day for bereaved fathers




Father’s Day for bereaved children




We hope that, however you spend Father’s Day, you are able to find moments of comfort in the memories of your loved one.  Our bereavement counselors remain available to provide support to donor families and we can be reached at 800-366-6771 or family@donors1.org.