16 ways to remember a father figure you've lost on Father's Day

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Father's Day is a time of celebration for many, but for those who have lost a father figure, it can be a really tough day. Grief follows no specific timeline, and every person experiences it in a different way. It can be comforting to know that you aren't alone if you've lost your dad, uncle, stepfather or any other person who fulfilled a fatherly role in your life.

Whether it's your first holiday since he died or many years have gone by, Father's Day can be a beneficial time to reconnect with your feelings about his passing. It's a good time of year to check in with yourself as well as celebrate the life he lived. Here are a few ideas that might appeal to you if you're looking for a simple way to remember a father figure you've lost on Father's Day.


Do something he always dreamed of

Did he always talk about visiting Machu Picchu, learning to scuba dive or going sky-diving? If his wildest dream is something that piques your interest, there's no time like the present to start planning. Maybe it'll take you a few years to save up to go on safari, or perhaps his dream is a little more attainable and you can sign up for an open mic night next week. Whether it's grand or humble, doing something he always dreamed of doing can remind you of the love for adventure he inspired in you.


Listen to his favorite music

The link between music and emotion is undeniable. Music is a universal experience and allows us to access feelings that we might not be able to through other avenues. Listening to a song that reminds you of someone you've lost, or listening to one of their favorite songs, is a simple yet incredibly fulfilling way to feel a connection even when that person is no longer around. It can also help you make sense of unresolved emotions or thoughts.


Practice random acts of kindness

Keep a loved one's legacy alive by doing something nice for a stranger. Some simple ideas to start: Praise a local business online, wheel out a neighbor's trash can on garbage day, give a compliment, pay for someone's coffee in line behind you, or leave a generous tip for the server who went the extra mile to find you a bottle of green Tabasco even though she was slammed.


Visit his favorite place

Did he love to visit a local museum, help out in a community garden, or walk along a nearby lake or waterfront? Feel closer to your dad or father figure by spending some time in the place he loved spending his time.


Talk to him

After a loved one passes away, it's normal to have unresolved feelings (they can often be both positive and negative). Do you have something you'd like to say to him? Writing it down in a Father's Day card, in a journal or on a simple piece of paper is a useful way to work through those feelings. If you're scared of someone else reading it or it's overwhelming to see your true thoughts written down, place the letter in a fire pit the next time you're out camping, destroy it under running water, or bury it. The simple act of getting your feelings out on paper can be extremely therapeutic, even if you feel better destroying the evidence afterward.


Share your knowledge with someone new

Did your dad or uncle instill within you a love of Scrabble, or teach you to water ski or change a flat tire? Pass along that knowledge to a niece, a nephew, or one of your friends' children. Father's Day is a good opportunity to teach someone else the useful (and sometimes not-so-useful!) lessons he taught you.


Reconnect with family or friends

Is there someone you've been meaning to get in touch with for a while, but the days keep getting away from you? Make it a priority to connect with them on a more regular basis. Maybe you start by committing to sending one text to an old friend every Wednesday night, and eventually move on to making a phone call to a friend or family member living out of state every Sunday. Whatever you do, investing in current relationships is a powerful way to honor someone's memory.


Visit his final resting place

Visiting a loved one's gravesite can be a time for reflection and healing, a cathartic experience, or simply a ritual of remembrance. Sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to visit a cemetery, however, and you may have put it off for weeks (or years). If you feel up to it, Father's Day can be a poignant time to visit. If you don't feel like going on the actual day (because Father's Day can sometimes be quite busy in cemeteries), visit during the week leading up to the holiday so you can reflect in peace.


Run a race in his honor

Pick a race that supports a charity close to his heart, or one that he perhaps relied on or benefitted from during his life. Invite others who loved him to join you, and consider making it a yearly event to honor his memory.


Continue with family traditions

Did your family go on a yearly camping trip, have a secret handshake, or go out for ice cream every Friday night? Rituals and traditions provide us with a sense of comfort and identity. Bringing back an old tradition can be a natural way to work through any grief or unfinished feelings you may have. It may also be difficult, so be prepared that it may bring up strong emotions. Tread lightly at first, and keep an open mind if a family member or friend declines the invitation.


Plant a tree

A tree can serve as a living reminder of your loved one - a place to visit when you need some peace and quiet or just want to think. As the tree grows and you gain distance from the date your loved one has passed, it can be a healing reminder that your loved one's spirit is still around, even as time moves on.


Share old stories (and maybe even write them down)

Take a trip down memory lane with family members or friends who also loved and respected him. Simply talking about his life and the good (and sometimes difficult) times you shared is a great way to keep his spirit alive. If you feel up to it, or just prefer to reminisce in private, write down some of these old stories.


Hit the trails

A hike is a fitting way to honor someone who loved to be active outdoors. Hit the trails alone if you need a little peace, or organize a tight-knit group of three or four close family members or friends who also want to take some time to remember him.


Create a scrapbook of favorite memories and pictures

A simple scrapbook is good way to celebrate and reflect on a loved one's life - and sometimes it's just nice to have a creative outlet to help wrangle all the thoughts running through your head. Creating a scrapbook could be just the project you need to celebrate, reflect or mourn.


Get your hands dirty

If your dad loved to garden, create a special place in your yard just for him. Plant his favorite vegetables or herbs, or if he enjoyed flowers, plant a whole garden all in his favorite color. Every time you look out on your yard you'll think of him.


Eat his favorite meal

Breaking bread with loved ones is a great way to create a living memorial by connecting with those who are still with you. Celebrate your loved one by enjoying a meal he would have devoured happily. Visit his favorite restaurant, invite others over to cook his favorite cuisine together, or make one of the favorite childhood dinners he always reminisced about.

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