It’s a strange feeling to experience your first new year without Dad. You can expect to feel extremely lonely and will cry a lot – feeling as though you’ve been ripped open from the inside.
When you try sharing your grief with others, even though they would listen or try to understand what I was going through, they just couldn’t comprehend the type of loss that I was experiencing.
This is especially true if you’re confiding in a friend who hasn’t experienced a loss of a family member before. This is how difficult death can be.
There will be many first during the first new year without Dad, first birthday without Dad, first father’s day without Dad, first Christmas without Dad, etc, and the list goes on.
There will be many episodes of emotional swings, toggling between denial, anger and sadness. The key to surviving your first new year without Dad, would be to learn how to heal your grieving heart. For some, it would be to take some time from work and go for a yoga/meditation retreat, while others heal faster with the help of a professional therapy.
My Dad was sick and more specifically was fighting a long battle with lung cancer. During his last CAT scan, the doctors found that he had boney metastases all over his body. The calcium deposits from the bones break down was going into his blood stream and was causing serious kidney damage. The worst part was, there was nothing else the doctors could do for him.
He was also intubated and was breathing from his own ventilator. It was hard to watch him struggle to breathe and being in so much pain scarred us emotionally.
On July 24th 2019, we had to make a decision not to prolong his pain anymore. On that Wednesday morning at 10.30am, our family gathered. As hard as it seemed, we had to let him go. We instructed the doctor and nurses to make sure that he would leave this world pain-free.
Once the doctors removed the tube, it only took a matter of a few minutes before he left us. In his last moments, he looked at us as if his eyes were talking to us. We held him close, kissed him and saw him leave in peace.
My Dad meant so much to me; he was genuinely one of my favorite people in the world. He taught me so much growing up, from baking to defending myself. I really miss all our father-daughter banter days.
Waking up every morning realizing that I wouldn’t be able to get into my car to visit him again was painful.
Till this day, I still try to reminisce about every memory that we shared together. I still continue to miss him and would give anything to spend even an hour with him.
How To Prepare Yourself Mentally To Survive Your First Year Without Dad?
Everyone’s first year without their Dad is the toughest. You’ll find yourself struggling between sadness and anger. While everyone reacts to grief differently, here are some suggestions you can try that’ll help you through grief:
- Setting aside time to grief. When it’s time to grief, allow yourself to cry in isolation. But when it’s time to enjoy, enjoy yourself to the fullest – you shouldn’t feel guilty about it.
- Distract yourself from sadness by volunteering. Statistic has shown that helping the under privileged helps to improve overall health by improving participants mood and lessen their stress. (source)
- If you’re not comfortable interacting with humans, what about animals? Perhaps consider volunteering at your local animal shelter. Doing meaningful deeds help to shift your mindset to focus on gratitude – which is important during your period of grief.
- Be gentle with yourself. When my Dad died, I was upset with myself for not spending enough time with him. We tend to be a little too harsh on ourselves during periods of grief.
- Join a grief support group or forum to share about your grief. Many who have experienced similar loss can relate to you. Alterative, consider seeking professional help from a therapist.
- Understand that your Dad did not choose to leave you, as death is something out of his control. He completed his mission assigned by God and had to continue on to the next phase of his life. This is the natural order of life.
- Believe that your Dad will watch over you when he is up there in Heaven.
- Start preparing on what to say on his death anniversary by reading up quotes about loss. If your feelings are still painful and fresh, you might find it difficult to articulate your feelings.
What Should I Do On My First Father’s Day Without My Dad?
For those who lost a father recently, your first father’s day without Dad will be painful. Losing a parent is never easy, emotions run high and tears start to flow. If you’re currently grieving the loss of a Dad, consider these meaningful ways to honor him on this very special day:
Visiting Your Dad’s Final Resting Place
Visiting your Dad at his final resting place can be a great way to feel connected with him again. Ideally, you may want to consider bringing a comforter and a chair to sit by his gravesite. If you like, you can also consider bringing a gift (such as a flower or ribbon) to place by his grave.
Many people find comfort is talking to their deceased Dad as if they were still present and alive at his gravesite. However, if talking to your Dad makes you feel uncomfortable; perhaps try visiting his grave with a family member. Use this opportunity to reminisce some of your favorite memories together.
Uphold Previous Father’s Day Tradition
On every Father’s day prior to the death of my Dad, our family celebrated the night with a Big Mac meal at Mcdonalds. The legendary Big Mac was my Dad’s favorite burger. Personally, it was a good idea that we had to continue this tradition, where my family could sit down together for a Big Mac meal and talk about the good old times and memories we shared with Dad. This was something that really kept the family together and honoring Dad’s effort to keep the family close all those years.
Making A Scrapbook Filled With Personal Notes & Letters
A picture speaks a thousand words and scrapbooking is a great way to help gather all your memories and put them in one place. This is the perfect activity to bring the family together and to memorialize Dad on father’s day.
Go through your old photo albums and handpick those that bring back the fond memories you shared with Dad. Next, pen down your thoughts as though you were writing a letter to your Dad in Heaven. Writing has always been a therapeutic form of expression for many people. Update your Dad on how has life been without him, and letting him know how his departure has changed you positively (eg. Made you a stronger person, made you realize now to take anyone for granted, etc.).