There are many ways one might find themselves without a father on father’s day. Regardless of how it happens, it is often difficult for the children (and single mother) when Father’s day comes and he’s not there. Sometimes it is compounded by the happy images you see on social media and out at restaurants where families are celebrating with their dads and it hurts because yours isn’t there. I would like to touch on the different ways one becomes fatherless. Each one has their own unique pain points.
Losing your father by natural death
When you lose your father due to death by natural causes, you may have had time to say goodbye. You might have had time to prepare. But you would still hurt very deeply at the loss. You still struggle with the hole he leaves. He might have died young and you are left with coping as a young teen or adult for years. But there is still a hole that will never be filled, even if your mother remarries a man that is amazing enough to adopt you and fulfill the role of father.
Losing a father by nefarious reasons
You might have lost your father due to a drunk driver, some violent act at home or on the battlefield, or even by suicide. This leaves you asking questions which are unfair to you and often times causes deeper pain than just the loss of the father. Bitterness can so easily take root in any of these situations. Hate towards other people is more devastating to the person harboring the hate and bitterness than the person who that anger and bitterness is aimed against. And when the father commits suicide, you ask questions like, “Could I have done something different to help him?” “What did I miss?” “Was there something wrong with me?” “Didn’t he love me enough…?”
If you are asking any of the above mentioned questions of yourself, please seek counseling. It wasn’t your fault. He loved you. You did everything you could. You need to find peace so that you can move on and be the person you need to be for yourself, your family, and your friends.
My daughter falls under this category, though she will have never met him. Some of you may have met your father and grown up some/mostly before his death. Some may have met their father but death occurred before you were old enough to remember.
Losing a father because he walked away
This situation also brings up many questions which are not fair to the kids (or the mother) as the father chooses to walk away entirely. Questions of, “Did he leave because of me?” “Why doesn’t he love me?” “What did I do wrong?” Please make sure that you are seeking counseling for yourself as well as for your kids. They need it as well as you. They deserve to know that they are not at fault. You are not at fault.
This is what I have dealt with over the past 12 years. It’s why Father’s day has been so bittersweet for me. I choose to remember the father I knew growing up all the while knowing that our relationship will never be the same. Every year I send a text saying “Happy Father’s Day, I love you.” But I don’t feel it. For years we gave a gift out of obligation. Gatherings with him were awkward and uncomfortable.
Even though after 11 years of the rift in the relationship he finally admitted where he failed and asked for forgiveness, he has continued to make choices to put his second life ahead of the children he left behind. This year I didn’t even send a text. I thought about it. But I have moved past the point of believing I must do something out of obligation. My daughter has no relationship with a single grandfather due to one being dead and the other not present. Who is missing out most? He is.
Choosing to Celebrate Father’s Day Anyway
You can still celebrate Father’s Day even without a father present. He’s passed away? Visit his grave, leave flowers, and remember the good times with family members. Still alive but not in the picture? Remember the good times, be grateful for the fact that you have life because of him, and then celebrate the mother that has pulled double duty.
Maybe in either situation there’s another man in your life that has gone out of his way to be influential in your life. A grandfather, uncle, older brother, or just a mentor in the church or a teacher at school. Thank them for the impact they have made on your life and the value they have added to it.
I am ever so grateful that my daughter has 6 uncles on my side of the family and one uncle on her daddy’s side of the family who seek to play active roles in her life. The one on her daddy’s side travels a lot, but he makes an attempt to see her when he’s home. The others on my side who are present acknowledge her when they are around her and play with her a lot. She loves her uncles and it makes my heart so happy to see her nurtured by them. She will not lack for healthy male role models in her life.
I have always been a proponent of active, engaged, involved fathers. But just because they aren’t does not doom our children for life and doesn’t mean that days like Father’s day can’t be celebrated. And if you’re the single mom pulling double, treat yourself! (If you’re an adult or even teen child with a mom who pulled double, treat her!) This week is also my baby’s 1st birthday. I took extra time off this week to celebrate her as well as myself. After all, I did push her 9 lb 9 oz self out that day a year ago. It’s party time!
Join my band of Gypsy Mothers!
Join my band of gypsy mothers and let us form a community of single moms encouraging each other. Our children will not be statistics just because they don’t have a father, or because they live in a single mother run household. We have a voice and can help each other to navigate this path together.