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  • Lara Krawchuk, LCSW, MPH

Missing Dad

I had a great dad. When I looked into his eyes, I always knew who I was. I saw my best self-reflected in the way he saw me. It felt safe and special. I loved our relationship. When I was 16, my dad was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder. In my 20s things got very serious. When I got married, he was very sick. By the time I had my first child he was critically ill. He died almost four months before my second child was born. I was 36 years old. I was crushed.

This Sunday is Father’s Day. It has been over 13 years since my dad died. I have two thriving teenage boys, a husband I adore, deep connections with family and friends, work I enjoy. I am lucky in so many ways and I am so grateful! But this weekend is Father’s Day and my father is not here. I long to wrap my arms around him, take in the soapy smell of him, look deep into his eyes, feel the comforting warmth of his love. I want HIM! No one else will do.

So, Sunday, I plan to get up early and sit on my porch with my dog as company. I will open my heart and allow self-compassion to flow. I’ll tell my grieving part, “Pull up a chair. I am here to listen.” And my grieving part, the one who will always miss my father, will cry, remember and wish passionately that he were here. I will honor this truth deeply. I will know it is true and valid and that there is nothing wrong with having this sad moment. My father died, but the power of the relationship remains. It is ok to miss him, ok to grieve. Father’s Day is, for me, a grief day.

After a bit, my grief part will feel heard and other, more joyful, present moment parts of myself will re-emerge. I will put on a nice outfit, rouse my sleepy family and together we will head to a lovely outdoor spot for brunch. Next, I will honor the father of my boys. We will laugh and celebrate, watch him open his cards, and cherish our connection to him. We will give him the appreciation he richly deserves. And my grieving part will know we are celebrating my dad too! Father’s Day is, for me, a celebration day.

There are many who, like me, struggle on Father’s Day. Children who have lost fathers. Fathers who have lost children. To anyone struggling on this day, please know you are not alone. It is okay. There is no need to choose between grief and celebration on Father’s Day, or on any other day. All parts of you are welcome! You can embrace sorrow and joy! Have a good cry then shift towards laughter. No need to push away parts of yourself that are hurting.

If you need to honor loss on Father’s Day please consider the following ideas:

1. Know that healing grief, from the loss of someone really important to you, lasts a lifetime. Over time, pain will soften and you reconstruct a meaningful life, but you will always have days when the sorrow feels larger than usual. This is normal.

2. Identify any parts of you that are struggling. Sorrow, anger, melancholy, regret, anxiety, guilt, or any other challenging emotion may be present. Remember that parts can show up as discomfort in your body, thoughts, feelings or moods. This can be obvious or subtle. Pay attention. Try to name what you notice without judgment. ALL parts are welcome.

3. Find a quiet spot to feel what you feel. This might be your comfy bed, a favorite spot in your home, or your favorite running trail. Pay attention to what hurting parts want you to know. Listen with an open heart or feel it out. No judgment, no change agenda. Make no attempt to push away struggling parts. Simply be present and listen. This is what healing looks like.

4. If you want, share your truth with someone who cares. If you can’t think of anyone you believe will understand, then set an intention to find someone like this for next year. This is a growth opportunity.

5. When hurting parts of you feel heard and understood they will usually soften. A calm may come over you. You may feel connected to deep wisdom inside yourself. You will likely sense a readiness to shift your attention towards the rest of the day. This means it is time to shift towards today.

6. Reassure your hurting parts that you will listen to them again later, if necessary. Now turn your attention to any aspects of your life that bring you love, hope, energy, joy and laughter. Celebrate any father figures in your life, including you, if you are one. Celebrate the parts of you that have found ways to thrive through grief. You deserve this! This is what living a meaningful life looks like!

Sometimes we need a little help naming, claiming, and making sense of our sorrow. If you, or someone you love, is struggling please remember that help is near. Simply call us at 610-209-3111 or email Lara at healingconceptsllc@gmail.com. We would be honored to support your journey towards healing and well-being.

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