‘You No Longer Have a Dad’

I never did much for my dad on Father’s Day.  We didn’t have any particular traditions to mark the occasion.  It was the same for birthdays and anniversaries – both his and mine.  Sometimes we sent cards and phoned to say, “I love you.” Other times we went out to dinner.   No fuss.  We were all busy.

This year is different, though.  My dad passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly, from a heart attack while driving home from work.  This is my first Father’s Day without Dad.

I’m not going to lie – it’s rough.  I’ve had eight months to grieve. And yet each advertisement I see touting barbecue equipment, cologne, and personalized mugs feels like a stab in my heart.  I never realized how omnipresent they were until I couldn’t open my email, look at my phone, or turn on my television without an ad reminding me, “You no longer have a dad.”

Don’t Regret, Celebrate

I find myself regretting how busy we all were, wishing we had done more to celebrate each other while we had the chance.

So this year, I’ve come up with a few ways to celebrate and honor my dad even though I can’t be with him.   I planned a camping trip with my sons for Father’s Day weekend.  My dad was adamant that the most important thing in life is family, and I want to honor that by spending as much time as I can with my children.

I’m going to fish, because my dad was a fisherman.  Although, when he took our family out fishing, he never got a rod in the water because he spent the whole time untangling or unsnagging lines and baiting hooks.  He loved every second of it.  Especially if one of us reeled in a big one.

Honoring My Father

I’m going to grill something, because my dad was an expert on the grill.  And then I’m going to sit my family down at a picnic table and play some “Yacht Rock” over speakers while we eat, because pretty much every song on that station reminds me of how my dad used to sing along to Hall & Oates, The Little River Band, Christopher Cross, and Michael McDonald.

Finally, I’m going to write, because that’s how I cope with my grief.  I’m going to write my dad a letter on this Father’s Day, telling him how much I miss his booming laugh, his killer dance moves, his amazing cooking, and his great conversations.

Perhaps I’ll make these new traditions, to make more memories with my own children.  My dad would’ve liked that.

Read more by Brooke Carlock at Grieving Mommy: One Mama’s Journey Through Child Loss/Grieving Mommy: a grieving mom’s journey through child loss

Check out Brooke’s other writing on Open to Hope‘You’re SO Strong’: A Misunderstanding of Grief – Open to Hope


Brooke Carlock

Brooke Carlock, M.A., has experienced more grief and loss in her lifetime than most. The deaths of her grandparents, sister, cousin, and sister-in-law before she turned 35, along with her extensive coursework in Human Development and Psychology, taught her the power of resilience. However, nothing would prepare her for the devastation to come in her 40s. In a span of four months, Brooke lost her father to an unexpected heart attack, her stepmother to suicide, and her beloved 10 year-old daughter, Libby, in a horrific car accident. A 20-year teacher and freelance writer, her daughter's death led Brooke to relentlessly study the fields of grief, loss, trauma, and resilience in order to survive her own experiences. Her writing has appeared in local magazines and Natural Awakenings magazine and on Emmys.com. She is also a contributor at Filter Free Parents. Currently, she is pursuing an Advanced Grief Counseling Specialist (CAGCS) certification and writing her first book, Starting Over (When You Don't Have a Choice). Brooke is the founder of LiveLikeLibby.org, a nonprofit organization that provides dance scholarships in her daughter's honor, as well as the creator of GrievingMommy.com, where she blogs about her experiences as a grieving mother.

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