When Dad Isn’t At The Table

Three Ways To Have A Peaceful Father’s Day

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Every Father’s Day families are faced with the absence of Dad. He’s not having his morning coffee. He can’t light the grill for the traditional barbecue. Not there to receive cards and presents.

This year Father’s Day will be difficult not only for the families of Dads who have passed in any year – but for the Dads lost to COViD, victims of violence driven by racism, and insurrection. 

Perhaps the saddest is that many Dads won’t be at the table this year because the family is divided. Divided over COViD, vaccines, politics, global warming, police reform, racism and on and on.

How do we find peace on what for many will be a somber day instead of a celebration?

  1. Begin With Self-Empathy

Acknowledge that whether Dad has passed or is estranged, we’re hurt and grieving. On Father’s Day repeat the following to yourself 4 or 5 times:

  • May I be safe.
  • May I be healthy.
  • May I be happy.
  • May I live with ease.
  • May I live with purpose.

This will quell some of the negative thinking – particularly guilt you may feel.

If Dad is alive but you’re not speaking, repeat the following to yourself 4 or 5 times:

  • May he be safe.
  • May he be healthy.
  • May he be happy.
  • May he live with ease.
  • May he live with purpose

Your brain has difficulty processing negative and positive emotions at the same time. Wishing these five things for your Dad will reduce anger, frustration, and sadness.

Repeat the above 4 or 5 times, three or four times during the day. Particularly when you first wake and before you go to sleep.

  1. Accept What We Cannot Change

Author David Richo wrote a book titled The Five Things We Cannot Change: And the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them. The premise is that when we don’t accept the bad things that life brings us as just part of our experience of being a human being, we end up trapped. Trapped in thinking that keeps us feeling guilty, angry, or sad. Trapped in grief with no way out.

We get stuck in endless head chatter:

  • “Why did my Dad have to die from COViD?”
  • “He didn’t deserve to die from cancer – he was a good person.”
  • “He had so much to live for.”
  • “He’d rather not be with us than change his thinking.”
  • “I’m just so pissed that he puts the right not to be vaccinated above seeing his grandson.”

The five things that are true of everyone’s life, simply because we are living a life are:

  • Everything changes and ends.
  • Pain is part of life.
  • Life isn’t fair.
  • Things don’t go according to plan.
  • People are not loving and kind all of the time.

It’s not that we and others aren’t accountable for our actions, it’s that much of what we grieve is just part of being alive.

If Dad passed, then it may be particularly helpful to keep in mind:

  • Pain is part of life.
  • Life isn’t fair.
  • Things don’t go according to plan.

Remembering these things can relieve guilt and anger. It can let you move through the grieving process instead of getting stuck.

If Dad and you are split, then focus on:

  • Everything changes and ends.
  • People are not loving and kind all of the time.

Right now, you know that Dad is not being kind in your eyes – that doesn’t necessarily make him different from the rest of us. None of us are always loving and kind.

You know that the two of you are split now. The good times changed and now you’re stuck. Everything changes and ends, so you don’t know that things won’t get better. Focus on the possibility that they will.

  1. Serve A Higher Purpose

There is an important difference between being happy and being fulfilled. Being happy is temporary. It comes from enjoying things in life like a great movie, a wonderful meal, a cold beer, watching world class sports. The problem is that the happiness from activities like these fades quickly. Not only do you no longer feel happy, you have a stronger and stronger need to do things that make you momentarily happy. That can lead to binge eating, shopping, watching, drinking or drug use.

Fulfillment is much more long lasting. Fulfillment comes from doing something that serves a greater purpose – something bigger than yourself.

If your Dad passed or isn’t speaking to you, on Father’s Day do something to make a difference for others in his memory. Here’s a short list:

  • Call one of his old friends who may be lonely and just have a chat
  • If he loved/s:
    • The outdoors, help clean up a park
    • Cooking, volunteer at a center that feeds the homeless
    • Baseball, bring a kid to a game
    • Reading, volunteer to reach to the kids at a childcare center

It doesn’t have to change the world – just something to make it a little bit better.

Have a peaceful Father’s Day.

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