‘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 has been punched in the face by grief on more than a few occasions, but she keeps getting back up and hopes to inspire others to do the same. She is the creator of the “Grief Sucks with Brooke Carlock” YouTube Channel and host of the “Mourning Coffee” Podcast, and cofounder of Live Like Libby, a nonprofit organization that provides dance scholarships in her late daughter’s honor. She has also been a middle school English teacher and freelance writer since earning a bachelor’s degree in English from West Virginia University and a master’s degree in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University. Her writing has been featured on Emmys.com, Open to Hope, Scary Mommy, and Filter Free Parents. Now an empty nester, Brooke resides in a tiny house by herself, which makes her introverted heart happy. When she’s not making videos, providing grief support, writing books, or wrangling middle schoolers, she enjoys reading historical fiction, baking, and going to farmers markets. She lives in a small town in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

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