7 Ways to celebrate a dad who’s passed this Father’s Day

An adult and child are silhouetted on a beach at sunset. Above them is a bright apricot sky dotted with grey clouds.

Father’s Day can be difficult for those of us whose fathers have passed away. While others can enjoy the thrill of finding the perfect gift or planning a special celebration, you may be feeling bereft all over again. You might experience sadness or frustration, or just plain miss your dad more at this time. It may even feel like Father’s Day is no longer for you. 

Well, it can be if you want it to be. While your dad may have passed on, Father’s Day remains a great time to reflect on who he was, what you love about him, and the impact he had on your life. So we’ve put together a few ideas for celebrating your dad this Father’s Day, even if he’s no longer with us. 

1. Get out those old photo albums 

Whether they’re digital or physical, photos of your dad are sure to bring the memories flooding back. Turn off your phone, sit down with a cup of something hot, and start digging through the archives of his life. You might like to call a brother or sister to bring over their stash of dad snaps so you can reminisce together.  

In fact, this could be the perfect time to put all those photos into one place — a physical album, say. Or, you might decide to scan them and add them to an online memorial (like ours here at Memories) that you can visit whenever you’re missing him, wherever you are in the world. 

2. Visit a place he loved to go to 

Did you dad love a round of golf at the local club? Why not play one in his honor this Sunday? Perhaps he had a favourite café — you could stop in for a coffee and a moment of reflection. Think of the places your dad loved to go to, and choose one to visit on Father's Day. While you’re there you might recall a memory or two from a time when you were there together, and that might feel like a gift in itself. 

3. Write a letter or card to him 

When we lose someone, we lose the opportunity to share our lives with them. Reclaim that feeling by writing a letter or card to your dad. What would you say to him now, if you could? What’s happened in your life that would make him proud, pleased, or want to help you? Write it all down in a special letter that you’ll never send, but can keep for as long as you like. You might even make a tradition of writing to your dad on Father’s Day, if you find it helpful. 

4. Light a candle and reflect 

An almost universal symbol of spirit, lighting a candle you’ve specially chosen can help you to pause and focus on all your dad meant — and still means — to you. This is the perfect time to just sit with his memory, and without any interruptions to distract you from what is effectively a meditation on your dad. Sifting through your memories of him may help you to feel closer to him, and remind you of his unique brand of fatherhood on this particular day. 

5. Visit his resting place 

Making the effort to travel to the place where your father was put to rest can help you feel physically close to your dad. It also provides a lot of scope for honoring his memory. If he was buried, you could take flowers to the grave, or light a candle at it. If he was cremated and his ashes scattered, you could revisit that place, and perhaps return to a reading or a song that he particularly liked while you’re there. Again, this might make a good tradition that you can continue in the years ahead. 

6. Use something he gave you, or used himself 

Some dads give lessons, some advice, and some give gifts that we cherish. What did your dad give to you? Use it on Father’s Day to honour him and his generosity. If you prefer, use something he used himself — his old fishing rods for example, or his gardening tools — to mark the occasion. These are great ways to honor your Dad’s wisdom, even if he’d have laughed to hear you call it that. And he’d be delighted to know his things — including his gifts to you — are still in use. 

7. Call someone else who’s missing him 

Even if you’re an only child, there’s sure to be someone else who’s missing your dad right now. It could be a relative or a family friend. It might be one of his own friends. Give them a call, see how they are, and maybe ask for a story about your dad. Reconnecting with others who were close to your father can, in turn, bring him closer to you. But their stories might also bring a smile to your face right when you need it. They’re sure to remind you that, whatever happens, your dad lives on through you.