The month of June brings a lot to celebrate, especially in Alaska. The summer has set in for good, days are long and full of light, the solstice will come upon us, and, of course, Father’s Day will soon be upon us. While some of us are lucky enough to be able to celebrate with Dad the way we always have, many will be looking for new ways to include him in their plans. Still some will be spending Father’s Day celebrating memories of Dad. No matter what the circumstance, participating in Father’s Day traditions can bring comfort and healing to the whole family.
For those who are still with their Dad, taking some time out to show him some appreciation can go a long way. Many families head out camping, or will have a barbecue. My dad’s birthday is around Father’s Day every year, landing on the solstice. We all take the day from our commitments and spend it in the company of our family, doing whatever he wants. Sometimes we go to breakfast, and one year we spent it floating down Campbell Creek. My favorite Father’s Day memory was made last summer. I spent the whole day in my dad’s home town, going to all the places that he went as a kid. It was really special to share that with him and to see the way that he lived. Having those experiences was so much fun because it let me see all the places I had heard about in stories growing up. That day will be something I can hold on to forever. I encouraged you to step out and create those kinds of powerful moments and memories with your dad.
Other families might be facing some more challenges this year. If dad’s health has declined it can be a hard time emotionally. Certain conditions or circumstances might make it hard or nearly impossible to continue with family traditions the way they have been established. One of the most meaningful interventions for someone experiencing dementia is the maintenance of status in the community. If dad has always been the one to barbecue, consider adapting the grill area to make it easier to do. A chair can be place in front of a low charcoal grill so that Dad can still see and participate. Setting up a tent in the back yard might remind him of a camping trip, even if it is no longer feasible to participate.
For families that have lost their dad, Father’s Day might seem impossible to celebrate. This can be an opportunity to share in the grief as a family. Share memories of past Father’s Day celebrations and fond memories of Dad. Celebrating his life can bring a lot of joy, and help us to find comfort and healing in the continuation of family traditions. This might be a good opportunity to establish new ways of celebrating that everyone can enjoy.
Father’s Day is a special time in all families, and it can be difficult to process and adapt to changes in the way we celebrate. Taking time out of the day to rejoice in our families is often the most important when it is the hardest. Reach out and spend some time this month making Dad a key part of any celebration that you have this summer.