Personal & Unique Ways To Remember Him
We are always searching for the right way to celebrate dad on Father’s Day. If you’ve recently lost your father and this is the first Father’s Day that you’re celebrating without him, it’s understandable that you might be feeling lost. Still, celebrating dad, even after he has passed, is an important way to keep his memory alive and help you with the grief that you might be feeling.
According to the Elisabeth Kubler Ross model of grief, there are five stages that most, if not all, people who experience grief go through: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance (1).
Continuing to celebrate your father will help you through these stages of grief and help you to heal enough to get you to the point where you have accepted his death, as hard as it may be, and can celebrate his life this year on Father’s Day and every year that comes. It’s important to hold space for his memory and look back on all the good times you used to have together.
20 Ideas To Honor Your Dad On Father's Day
While there’s nothing that can ever replace him, these ways of remembering dad on Father’s Day might help to alleviate some of the sadness you feel on a day that’s all about him.
Visit Him At The Cemetery
It might be tough if it’s your first time visiting dad at his grave since the funeral, but the experience can be ultimately cathartic and healing. Bring a blanket or a folding chair, a small gift like some flowers or a balloon, and just sit and spend some time with dad.
You can do this alone, with a friend or family member, or the whole family – whatever gives you a sense of togetherness with your dad.
You don’t need to stay for a long time if you start to feel upset. Take it minute by minute and just see what feels okay to you. If it helps, maybe try to tell dad the way that you’re feeling or something good that happened recently that you’d like him to know.
It might be a good idea to have a picnic with a family member and talk about your dad with them. This way, you spend quality time at the cemetery but also have a bit of a distraction when you need it.
As a tribute to a father who has passed away, you might leave a bit of food or drink at the grave for him.
Attend A Service
If your father had a place of worship that he attended regularly, it might make you feel close to him if you follow in his footsteps on Father’s Day. You can talk to people that he knew and reminisce together, understand his beliefs a little more, and maybe find a new tradition of your own.
Even if you are not particularly religious, attending a service that your father used to attend can be a great way to remember him this Father’s Day. The leader of the service will likely be happy to see you paying tribute to your father on the special day.
You might even meet a few people who are in the same boat as you; whether they are attending services without their father for the first time or they have been for several years, others that have had similar life experiences can be good shoulders to lean on during this emotional time.
Have A Conversation Out Loud
Is there something that you need to get off your chest or something that you desperately wish you could tell your dad? It can be quite helpful to sit down and have a conversation with him as if he was there with you.
In fact, Dr. Alison Forti, an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling at Wake Forest University says, “Speaking out loud to a loved one who has passed — whether at a grave site or out loud at home — is helpful for many people processing grief. I will sometimes encourage my clients to speak to an empty chair in an effort to help them cope with grief. Many people will experience a sense of disbelief after they lose a loved one. By encouraging people to speak out loud to their loved one it helps them resolve that disbelief.” (2)
Write A Letter
If having a verbal conversation doesn’t sound like it will work for you, you can always write dad a heartfelt letter. You can go on for as long as you’d like and don’t hold anything back. You might find that writing a letter can be extremely cathartic and a good chance to get a lot of things off of your chest in a way that feels like you’re really communicating, but no one ever has to see or hear.
You can write about anything and everything – whatever feels right to you. Explain to him how you’re feeling on Father’s Day now that he isn’t there, tell him some exciting new family or personal news, recount a memory between the two you of you that makes you happy.
Once you’re done, you can either keep the letter, give it to another family member, or burn it as a way of letting go.
Look At Old Photographs
Looking at pictures is one of the best ways to remember our loved ones and the memories that we had with them. A single photo can bring back the feelings that you felt at the time of the memory and help keep that experience, and your father’s memory, alive.
If you have children, this can be a great opportunity to look back on the man that they knew as their father or grandfather and maybe see him at certain ages that they never had before.
Old photos are also great opportunities for a few laughs, something that is absolutely necessary on a day when you’re missing the special man in your life. Checking out dad’s old outfits, hairstyles and things he liked to do can be a fun time for the whole family.
If dad has some old letters that he wrote, music that he recorded, or video footage that he captured, Father’s Day would be a great opportunity to dig those out of the memory boxes and relive the moments together.
Create A Memorial Video
Gather up all of those old photos and convert them to digital files, if you can. If you already have a bunch of photos on your computer or cell phones, that will make the process even easier!
You can easily make a memorial video on your own computer or cell phone these days. Pick all of your favorite photos and video clips of dad and string them together in a montage set to music.
You can make copies of the memorial video and pass them out to family and friends as a gift on Father’s Day or have the whole family gather ‘round to watch it together.
Here are some tips for making a great memorial video:
- Choose 25-30 photos of your father that span throughout his lifetime
- Create a timeline with the photos, in chronological order
- Avoid photos of him in large groups
- Take pictures of memorabilia that he kept and add a few of those photos into the mix
- If you can mix photo and video, select a couple videos and trim them to be a few seconds long before adding them to the memorial video
- Select a soundtrack that is appropriate to honor your father.
Have An Informal Gathering
Getting together with friends and loved ones, on a day when you all have something in common, can be the perfect way to honor dad on the first Father’s Day since he passed away. Having the people around you and your family that know and love you more than anyone else can bring some solace to the soul.
Use the party as a chance to remember all of the fun times that you’ve all had with dad, share with him the things that you wish he knew, watch his favorite movie or play a memorial video that you and your family created, and make some of his personal favorite recipes.
When you have a shared experience like this with a dozen or so other people, you realize that you’re not all alone in the world, even though it might feel like it from time to time. Your dad had such an impact on the people around him and sharing his memory with other people that miss him will help you to realize the incredible impact that he left on the world and the people in it.
Plan An Activity
Did your father have an activity that he loved to do, or something that you enjoyed doing together? Keeping the tradition alive can be a great way to honor dad on the first Father’s Day since his passing. It might even bring you closer to the memory of your father because you’ll have a deeper understanding for him and the things that he loved to do.
Following in your father’s footsteps through one of his favorite activities gives you a chance to see the world through his eyes. What was it that he loved about this place or activity? How can you recreate the moments that he loved most and honor him on Father’s Day?
Here are a few ideas to help you.
- Plan a golf outing
- Go fishing and/or camping
- See his favorite sports team and wear one of the jerseys he loved
- Take the family to his favorite restaurant
- Watch his favorite movie
- Play his favorite board or card game
- Read his favorite book
Go For A Drive
Some dads work for years and years to create their very own custom car, truck, or motorcycle. If your dad has left one of these things behind, Father’s Day is the perfect time to finally take it for a spin yourself, safely, of course. For many men who work on building custom automobiles, it kind of becomes an extension of themselves by the time they get it perfect – although some could tinker on it forever and ever.
Taking out your dad’s custom ride will breathe life into this creation that he devoted so much of his time and energy to. Maybe you can even finish a few of the projects he started or find your own custom ride to start building one day.
Even cars, trucks, and motorcycles can be family heirlooms if they’re taken care of properly and a regular tune-up of your dad’s ride is a tribute to him that he would be most proud of!
You don’t need to drive anywhere in particular although you might want to take a trip to one of his favorite places or to the cemetery where he now rests. Still, just a cruise with the windows down, and maybe his favorite song blasting through the speakers will be an experience that is sure to leave a smile on your face.
Give To His Favorite Charity
Keep the memory and spirit of your father alive with a donation to one of his favorite charities in his name. If he had recurring payments set up to a particular organization, you might think about keeping those payments going as your own Father’s Day gift to him. Every year, a donation made in his honor will be a tribute to a father that has passed away. With this, it will seen to the organization that your father lives on forever.
Another Father’s Day gift that you can give to your father even after he passed away is a memorial tree, plaque, or piece of décor. There are many organizations that auction off spaces in the community and use the money towards a good cause. Typically, these spaces remain as pillars in the community for years to come.
You might be able to purchase a park bench, a brick in a new building or monument, a sapling, the list goes on. If your family has the funds for it, you could make a large contribution to a school, hospital, library, or not-for-profit organization and have a section of the building or a scholarship created in his name.
A gorgeous piece of ash jewelry, like one from Jewelry Keepsakes (3) is the perfect Father’s Day gift for yourself or someone you love that has recently lost their father. Ash jewelry is made from strong, heirloom quality sterling silver with a small amount of ashes mixed into the resin that creates a heart on the front of the pendant.
Ash jewelry allows you to hold your father with you wherever you go. It’s an incredibly personal gift and tribute to a father that has passed away, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need.
This is the best Father’s Day gift for someone who is particularly sentimental or needs to feel that physical closeness with their father that they have been lacking since he passed away. This way, he is always with the person who wears the pendant throughout their many journeys in life.
On the back of the Father’s Day ash jewelry, you can inscribe up to five lines of text. It could be a message from your father to you, a prayer or quote that has sentimental meaning, or just his name and birth/death date.
When the time comes, you can pass the ash jewelry down to your child, sibling, or another person who loved your father as dearly as you did.
Travel To His Hometown
If your father grew up in another city or state, it might be a fun way to honor dad on the first Father’s Day since he passed away by visiting all of the places that he used to spend time at as a child. If this is where your grandparents live, you get the added bonus of saying, “Happy Father’s Day!” to your grandpa.
If you’re able to spend some time with your grandparents in your dad’s hometown, maybe they can show you around town and tell you stories about your dad. You might hear some stories that you’ve never heard before! This is a great opportunity to bring yourself closer to your father, emotionally, and a fun family bonding experience, too.
While you’re driving around, see if you can get in touch with any of your father’s childhood friends. They might have some stories that not even grandma and grandpa know.
If your dad had out-of-town friends that couldn’t make it to the funeral, this might also be the perfect opportunity for them to reminisce on the days of their youth and get some closure.
Moment Of Silence
Sometimes, words and actions just fail us. There isn’t anything else we can think of saying or doing that can be as impactful or meaningful as we want. In times like these, sometimes it’s best to just take a moment of silence. You can do this alone, with a group of friends and family, or with your immediate family members that were closest to your father.
Choose a place your home or somewhere that means a lot to you, your father, or your family as a whole. If you’d like to, hold hands with the people you are with to strengthen the connection that you have with each other. During times like these, it’s of utmost importance to keep the people that we love really close to us so we can lean on them for support.
Take a few moments to remember your father. Breathe deeply and picture him standing beside you or relive a memory in your head. Think about all of the reasons why you loved your dad and honor him for the good man that he was.
In this moment, send a subliminal message to your dad and picture him receiving it. Open your heart to all of the lessons he taught you throughout the years and promise to take the best ones with you through life.
Make A Scrapbook
If you’ve got a big box of memories – letters, photos, small collectible items – take all of them and make a big scrapbook dedicated to the life of your father. Memories can be lost or forgotten when they sit in a box that’s trapped under the bed or in a closet. A scrapbook is a fun way to keep them out in the open to easily access whenever you want.
Making the scrapbook can be a solo activity that you do to honor dad on first Father’s Day since passed away, but it can also be a great way to get the whole family or just the kids involved. You can pass around the scrapbook from person to person and each one adds a new page or two of memories into the scrapbook.
There’s no saying that you have to finish it in one sitting! Perhaps you’d like to make it a tradition where every year on Father’s Day, you sit down and add a page or two to the book. Once it’s full, you can pass it down to a younger family member and, before you know it, you have a new family heirloom.
Photo Engraved Keychain
At Jewelry Keepsakes, you can have a special photograph engraved on a keychain (4). The keychains are made out of high-grade stainless steel and the image is sure to withstand the test of time because it is engraved into the metal rather than laser printed on. The images are highly detailed, black-and-white photos and can be etched onto a keychain that perfectly fits the style of the person who will be receiving it.
For further customization, you can have a few lines of writing engraved onto the back of the keychain. This might be a personal note, a cherished prayer or quote, or the name and relevant dates of the father who is being memorialized.
With a Father’s Day photo engraved keychain, you will be able to carry around the best photo of your father (or the two of you together) wherever you go, with the confidence that the image is going to last. Eventually, you may even choose to pass down the keychain as a family heirloom to really keep the memory of your father alive.
It will be comforting to know that even after all the years and distance, that one image of your father will always exist.
Have A Quilt Made
You can either make the quilt yourself or have a professional do it for you. Gather together a bunch of t-shirts, ties, jerseys, hats – anything that’s made of fabric and reminds you of your father and you won’t mind that they’re going to be cut up with fabric scissors.
Everything that meant a lot to you (and your father) will come together in a beautiful quilt that you can snuggle up with every time you watch a movie on a rainy day or put the kids down for a nap.
This is a great alternative to getting rid of your father’s old clothes that aren’t going to be worn anymore. With a quilt, you don’t have to worry about dad’s favorite t-shirts winding up in a donation center, keeping them stuffed in a closet, or tossing them out.
Some dads have collected a lot of t-shirts over the years. If your dad seems to have collected a t-shirt from every place he had ever went, you might have hundreds of shirts on your hands! In this case, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a bunch of quilts made. You can pass them out to all of your siblings, your dad’s siblings, and have a few left over for when family comes to visit.
Polish Old Awards
Whether your dad is a military veteran or just someone who loved his bowling league, polishing his awards and getting a proper display case for them is a great way to honor his memory. If he doesn’t have a large collection of awards and trophies, you can get a nice little shadow box for his things and hang it on the wall for give it to someone else in your family as a gift.
If he has a large collection, jerseys or uniforms, and newspaper and magazine clippings, you can get a nice, big, glass display case and a few shadow boxes and frames and create a whole corner dedicated to your father.
Each award is really another reason for you to be proud of your father and way for you to honor his memory. It could be a great Father’s Day activity as a family to design the whole display and set it up together or a really personal moment for you to do alone.
If you need help framing things like jerseys or newspaper clippings, you can take your items to a professional. It might be a good idea to have paper clippings mounted so that they don’t become brittle or worn down over time.
Share Dad's Stories
One of the best ways to keep the memory of your dad alive is to share his stories. Every year on Father’s Day, you and your family can have a tradition in which you go around and tell your favorite story or memory about your dad. Even if the stories eventually end up a little different as if they’ve gone through a game of telephone, the sentiment is still there, and you might end up with an even better story than what you started with!
If your dad had a great sense of humor, this can be especially fun. Sometimes, as the stories go on and change over time, the bad or dull parts are replaced with funnier stories. This in itself can be a tribute to your dad on Father’s Day.
If you have a particular story that is very important to you or your dad, write it down or type it out so that the memory can be preserved exactly as you remember it.
If you go this route, you can make copies of the story and pass it around the day before Father’s Day so everyone can participate in the same memory together.
Visit Another Father
If you know of a father that, say, lost a child recently or maybe they lost their wife, Father’s Day might be the perfect time to show another family some love. Bringing all the love that you have for your father to another one who needs it is a great way to pay tribute to your own father on the first Father’s Day since he passed away.
They say that in helping others, you can help yourself (5) and even though it might be hard to bring yourself to reach out to others on a day when you are in mourning, you might be surprised at how much better you feel at the end of the day.
Putting a smile on someone else’s face is a surefire way to bring a smile to your own.
Seek Out His Signature Scent
Does your dad have a signature cologne or aftershave? Something that you smell and immediately memories of your childhood and him come flooding back? Even if you don’t use it on yourself or anyone in your family, just having a bottle of it nicely placed on your vanity or dresser is a great way to honor your dad’s memory on Father’s Day.
If you set up something for his awards, have a quilt made or create a scrapbook, you could spray the memorabilia with his scent, and every time you go back to it, give it another spray if you notice the scent waning.
Scent can invoke really powerful emotions. In fact, our olfactory receptors are connected to the limbic system and the most primitive part of the brain. They are considered to be the “seat” of emotion and directly connected to the part of the brain that creates an emotional response (6).
How To Include Mom & Grandma
Father’s Day might be a very hard time for your mom and grandma too, if they are still with you. The day is likely to make them feel very sensitive so including them in your plans for Father’s Day this year will help them process their feelings of grief, just like it’s helping you.
Share Their First Moments
Ask your mom and grandma to share their first moments that they ever spent with your father. What was it like the day he was born? How did everything pan out? What was popular that day? Have your grandma paint a real picture of that first day your dad came into the world.
For mom, ask her about the first day she met your dad or what is was like when they first started seeing each other. Have her recount how they first sparked their love so that you can understand what kind of man your father was when he was young. and she can relive those first moments of their relationship.
Father's Day Fingerprint Jewelry
Of course, you should invite them to participate in any and all of the above activities, but if you want something a little bit more special to honor your father on the first Father’s Day since his passing, you could do so with a piece of Father’s Day thumbprint jewelry from Jewelry Keepsakes (7).
Jewelry Keepsakes’ fingerprint jewelry takes an exact replica of your loved one’s fingerprint and engraves it onto a piece of metal in the form of a necklace or keychain.
With this, your mom and grandma can forever carry around an extremely personal piece of your father for the rest of their lives. Eventually, this gift can be passed down to you, your siblings, or your children.
Get Them Involved
As long as your mom and grandma are comfortable with it, get them involved in planning Father’s Day as much as you can. Since this is their first Father’s Day without him, they might feel a bit out of control or as if they don’t know what to do because they’ve been celebrating the same way for years and years.
Keep your family close and try to plan a day that’s really honors your father while still allowing you to have some fun as a family!
Honoring Dad This Father's Day
No matter which way you cut it, the first Father’s Day after your dad’s passing isn’t going to be easy, and it might still be hard for a few years to come. Of course, your father cannot be replaced by any of these Father’s Day activities, but it might make the day a little bit easier to get through if you utilize one or two of these ideas.
In fact, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to utilize these ideas in everyday life to help you cope with your father’s passing on a day-to-day basis. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do too much at once, though. There is no correct way or time to grieve. Just do what feels right to you and what you think will really honor the memory of your father after his passing.
June 8, 2020 by Jeri K. Augustus