The whole thing about Other’s Day is that there’s no right or wrong way to handle grief or pain – absolutely everybody does it differently, and that’s completely ok. One of the things people say to us most is that it’s been really helpful to have seen publicly that they’re not the only ones going through what they’re going through. That they’re not the only ones who have to run past shop displays, or feel weirdly emotional at the sight of a card with golf clubs and beer on the front. So, in the spirit of togetherness, we invited the world to share their stories right here, and so many brave and wonderful people responded. You’ve shared these moments of your lives in the hope that it will help somebody else, and we applaud you and thank you for it. It’s not easy to sit and focus on these feelings, let alone put them into words, and we are so grateful to you all for doing it. Here’s to being bloody excellent to each other.
My step-dad died a few years back which had a very big effect on me and my Mum. Something which both of us still getting to grips with, but I wanted to actually send you something about my actual Dad. My Dad left when I was about eight years old, an affair which tore my family apart. My relationship with him has always been distant – the odd phone call, occasional dinner every few months. He has always struggled with alcohol which has only gotten worse as the years go by.
I always felt he was intrinsically selfish (fallout from the affair) but I never realised until later in life his problems with mental health, which back then were undiagnosed, or at least for men, not spoken about.
Shortly after my step-dad died I got a phone call from my actual Father. He rang me at 9:10am to say goodbye to me and he took a cocktail of sleeping tablets and alcohol in an attempt to take his life. I rushed to his house, police in tow, and kicked his door down. He was still with us but refused to see me and wouldn’t let me in. I could see his house was waist-high in rubbish and bottles, it was almost cliché. The police advised me to leave and they would look after him. The next day I booked rehab and called him and told him I’d pick him up and take him. I turned up the day after and he had disappeared. Cut all contact for months and months. Eight months or so went by and he finally reached out. He seemed better but the relationship was almost beyond saving. I was hurt, angry and feeling a bit selfish myself.
When Father’s Day comes around I find it a bit of a double whammy. On one hand it’s hard remembering the step father I lost but also the one I still have. I feel every part of me should not acknowledge my Dad for the pain he’s caused. But as I reach my mid 30s I have diagnosed mental health problems too. And each year goes past and I feel more connected to him. That said I still feel awkward around this time of the year, birthdays and Christmas. I always try and make sure I maintain contact, because the thought of him alone is quite hard to deal with, but I just find it impossible to reconnect fully. Father’s Day is a minefield and I try and focus on my friends and Mum. Whether that’s the right approach or not I don’t know, I’m still trying to figure it all out.
A letter to my younger self.
I’ve deliberated long and hard how to write you in a way you’ll understand so I hope this makes sense and will help guide you.
The future is hard and your heart will be broken albeit not in a conventional way. The loss of our dad, our best friend, will be the toughest heartbreak we will suffer.
The arrogance of our youth will fade and the path is set to change as we evolve from a boy in to a man. So for that journey let me tell you some things you’ll need to know to help ready you for what lay ahead.
First and foremost you must understand one thing. Keep this and never let it go for the moment you do will be the moment you fall.
Our broken heart will never mend. No amount of passing time will put together again the pieces, however know that with time you will feel strong and you will feel love again.
With this in mind we must remain positive. Alcohol and drugs will not help us through the darkest moments. Recognise the importance of keeping our mind clear of the toxins that only further cloud it. Think of the consequence of actions. What feels good on a Saturday night will push you to the limits come Tuesday. Realise the importance of keeping our head above the water.
Accept the positive changes in mindset and prepare for others to not understand. Someone we’ve once acknowledge as a close friend may find it hard to communicate with the new us. Perhaps they don’t know what to say or how to articulate their sympathy but remember your truest friends will find a way. Don’t be sad to let go of those who can’t.
Find a positive outlet for the emotion. The sadness we feel needs an outlet and an escape. When that comes, when it arrives we must embrace it. Embrace the new version of us. It’ll feel strange but this process will be the making of us.
Never stop talking about him. Remember him everyday. Tell people who he was, what he did, how he laughed, how he loved, how he lived, the music he loved and the way he sang and danced to it. Do all you can to honour the memory of our best friend. And when it’s right, cry. Don’t be ashamed of the emotion and love we have and have had for him. Know it’s ok to feel every emotion we need to feel and to express it as positively as we can.
Finally there is one last thing we must remember. No matter where we are, who we are with or what we are doing, do it positively and with and with an open mind. Though some days the pain feels never ending its in those moments we must remember how lucky we have been to have had our dad for the 30 years we had him. The man we love and who loves us back.
Your journey starts now.
This isn’t coming from the naivety some think hides behind the girl with the grin. But rather from the dullest pain, the emptiest and hollowest of holes, the most hopeless of all places. I lost my Papa out of the blue 1.5y ago, I’d always wonder if the traffic lights and rest of the world would still go on after my world fell apart.
Well traffic lights kept going like they didn’t care, but my world didn’t really fall apart. In fact it’s almost like it started. Having to pick up the crumbs revealed old and irrelevant beliefs that past fears had bolstered in me, and just like that the world was new again.
So much to revisit, but this time with less fear and a much more open mind, because we now know that worlds never fall completely apart, and that people never really leave, their love most definitely never leaves!
This week, we would have celebrated another of his birthdays. And although it stirred the emotional tides wild, I’ve welcomed the pain to sit heavily on my chest. It’s the price to pay for having loved and having been loved so hard, and this I’m oh so grateful for.
So I welcome the tightness, I don’t stuff it away, smother it or numb it, I give it all its space because I’ve realised that’s how it takes me back to chasing joy, going back out there to experience to love and being loved hard again, in that same intense way that rips you apart when it goes away, but that forever takes you back to joy and more, for the seed it has planted in you.
Fathers Day is quite a bittersweet one for me. I lost my dad to a brain tumour when I was sixteen and I really didn’t have the maturity to deal with it and grieve in a healthy way. After that Christmases and Fathers Day were just painful reminders of how much I missed the most inspiring person I knew, the one who loved me completely, my best friend.
After counselling and some time to grieve later when I was 21 (triggered by a relationship break up surprise surprise!) suddenly everything felt much lighter. And I could talk about him and remember him without feeling extreme sadness and heartbreak. For so long the passing time didn’t help as I buried the deep sadness. After all grief is just love that doesn’t know where to go.
Father’s Day now has become an opportunity to be thankful and celebrate other men in my life like my uncle who has always supported me and walked me down the aisle when I got married and also my husband who is such a great father to my own kids. I think I can be even more grateful for these things having known the pain of their absence. Even though it’s 20 years later, I find myself closer to my Dad and more grateful than ever for the time I had with him and all the things he taught me and showed me about the world. I know he lives on in me and I can really celebrate that now with joy in my heart rather than an overwhelming sadness.
I wrote this, then deleted, then wrote again, cried, then deleted, but most of what I wanted to say, I did. I am not entirely there yet to speak publicly on my Dad’s passing and what happened. I hope it doesn’t come across too vague or stiff as most of the time I just wanted to say it is shit.
I never really paid much attention to or even celebrated Father’s Day as I am originally from Latvia. Since I moved to the Isle of Man, I would always get a card for my Father-in-law from my husband and I. This changed five years ago, when I very suddenly lost my Dad just a couple of days before Father’s Day. I was in the Isle of Man, my Dad was in Latvia and it was the worst day of my life. Ever since then, I really dread May and June for obvious reasons. The fact that he died around Father’s Day makes it a lot worse for me. There are banners, cards, gift ideas, magazines, social media posts everywhere which was (is) a constant reminder that my Dad was not only gone, but everyone else was celebrating their dads. It has made me sad, emotional, anxious and even angry. There is nothing wrong with celebrating Father’s Day but equally there is nothing wrong with feeling the way I do around this time. It is important that people understand that everyone is different and it may not necessarily be a happy day to everyone.
This photo is from our wedding day – my favourite photo of my Dad. He is saying the speech in Latvian and I was translating in English for the guests (my husband doesn’t speak Latvian), but this is just a perfect moment caught on camera of us all laughing at the same time!
Father’s Day has always been an odd and rather confusing day for me. Why? Because I believe my Dad, prior to his sudden death some 13 years ago, was never all that deserving of the recognition such a day brings with it. He was an alcoholic, and an abusive one at that. We had a volatile relationship. I loved him because he was my Dad. Still do. But I never really liked him and I didn’t want to spend all that much time with him. Agreeing to see him in the years after my parents divorced was like choosing to play Russian roulette. Things would either be ok or they’d blow up in all our faces.
Growing up, while my dad was still alive, my brother and I went through the motions of marking Father’s Day, buying cards, going out for meals with him etc… But it always felt forced, at least to me it did anyway (I can’t speak for my brother). It always seemed like something we had to do. There was an expectation. Otherwise it’d be weird if we didn’t. The irony…
Much like with Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day or any other commercially-driven day of celebration, there’s an underlying presumption of idyllicism. That we all have loving, functional and positive relationships with other people. Of course, many of us do (myself included) – or there wouldn’t be anything for commercial entities to take advantage of – and that’s ok. I’ve never begrudged someone’s desire to celebrate Father’s Day, or any other day. I get it because I have the best relationship with my mum and I’ve always marked Mothering Sunday, even at her behest. She deserves it.
My Dad didn’t. And that’s what Father’s Day and all those other aforementioned landmark occasions fail to consider, whether it be disfunction, death, loneliness, depression or something else that prohibits people from feeling ok about such days. As I got older, and my father’s behaviour failed to improve, I realised that it’s ok to not go through motions. I stopped celebrating Father’s Day and, as much as part of me wanted it to be different, became ok with not doing so.
I was 21 years old when my Dad passed away. I’m 34 now and a father myself. My daughter was born in April of last year and so I found myself on the receiving end of Father’s Day for the first time. And it was great. Really nice. The thought my partner put into it was lovely and I know it’ll be the same again this year.
I’m lucky in that she obviously feels I’m deserving of the recognition I felt my Dad wasn’t. I don’t need Father’s Day as a reason to think about my Dad, I do that anyway. But when Father’s Day does inevitably roll around, I do remember him and how it felt to not want to celebrate it. And that’s ok, too.
I arrived into this world about three weeks too late for Father’s Day, but in plenty of time for the launch of Apollo 11. I was two weeks old, Dad volunteered to sit up with me, to give Mum much needed rest and he would watch the moon landing with me… apparently, I missed the whole thing as I sleep through the entire night! Dad never let me forget it!
My little sister timed her arrival a year later, just in time for Father’s Day. I think that was the best present he could have asked for, and from that day on, Beth’s birthday was linked to Father’s Day.
He was of the older generation, he lived through the blitz, was evacuated and did his national service. Men of that generation always kept their emotions in check, but he was protective of us all, kind, and he indulged my love of computers but he wouldn’t stand for any nonsense. We never really celebrated the day as it he didn’t want to detract from my sister’s birthday, but we always had a roast and buying presents was always easy, anything cricket related was an easy win, the drawback was watching those same videos later that day!
He adored my little sister, who was ill from an early age, and he always took her up to the hospital in London for her checkups and I remember him crying when my sister passed away 32 years later, again not long before Fathers Day.
He wasn’t a saint, he had a short fuse, was a tad eccentric in his later years and had the odd cantankerous moment, but he loved us all deeply. I always remember him on this day, because he gave me his name when I was born.
My Dad was the total life and soul – he had an incredible life. He ran away from home and joined the Navy younger than he should have. Did National service. Left the Navy and worked for a shipping line in Libya (back then in the 60’s it was all about the oil). He also worked for the British Embassy keeping them abreast of everything coming in and out of the ports. He also was a DJ for BHBS and knew a lot of the DJs on the pirate radios from his visits to the ships they were run from. I was born and my brother out there in Libya before we all came back to the UK in the late 70’s. He then ran a lovely country pub for 15 years, retired and sadly at 68 died of Myloma after a three-year battle. He always laughed and lived a full life, with absolutely no regrets. I am so proud of him and know he watches over us.
So, oh my goodness, I love and hate Fathers Day. Although I lost my Dad 12 years ago, it still hugely hurts – he was my best friend, my confidante, my support. Sad to say I was far closer to him than my Mum, who is still here and who I now have a great relationship with. His birthday was the day after mine, so from the moment I was born we shared something so special. I was 50 this year and it hurt so much he wasn’t there – this Father’s Day seems all the worse without him. BUT I have the most amazing husband and three beautiful children. He is and has been an absolutely brilliant father throughout the kids’ lives, from birth to now. They are 25, 23 and 21, so Fathers Day is a must in our house – seems unfair not to celebrate what a wonderful job he is doing. So very much for me two sides to the coin. Lots of happiness and sadness rolled into one!
I was sitting at a bar talking about my relationship problems, and out of left field I heard, “you must
have serious daddy issues.”
I thought about it.
I guess I do.
The main issue being that he’s dead.
Have you ever buried your best friend? I can’t say I recommend it, if you have the choice.
It didn’t help that I was just a kid who didn’t know what I was doing.
Hell, I picked a blue casket because it matched his eyes, though they were closed by then.
Logic and grief aren’t the best communicators. What can I say?
I have a lot of the same issues as my dad. So, I guess I do have daddy issues, in a way.
My issues – my daddy issues – are that I’m
a dreamer who struggles to stay grounded,
an emotional water sign,
attracted to people who make me earn their love and treat me poorly,
plagued with an unquenchable thirst for adventure,
a believer in rainbows, magic, and everything else that defies logic,
bad with money,
prone to fall in love everyday (it seems) – that floozy!,
cursed with ears that don’t hear too well, and
all too quick to make a friend in the grocery store checkout line,
just like my dad.
So yeah, I have issues.
My dad had issues.
He was perfect to me, but he wasn’t perfect.
He was just a dad, and dads are just people.
And people don’t have it all figured out; people have issues.
I’m lucky I have the same issues as my dad because I think he was just about the greatest dad there
ever was, and I’m honoured to be like him. Issues and all.