“Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap on a rope.” Bill Cosby

Unless you are hiking in the Austrailian outback or cruising the Mediterranean, you probably know Father’s Day is coming up. There’s no escaping the TV and internet images of families grilling out and celebrating dads.

This year you might be missing your father. If you are, you’re not alone.

My dad’s name was John Glenn. He was not the astronaut, but occasionally this John Glenn didn’t mind leveraging his famous name in a crowded restaurant. Once he was asked if he was “the real John Glenn.” When he answered yes, a table somehow became available. Go dad.

Sometimes he let us play in his office, fully furnished with carbon paper, stamp pads and an adding machine the size of a Boeing 747. Even now, a whiff of pipe tobacco takes me back to his office. Thankfully, there were no nicotine police then. I’ll never forget the day I filled his cherished wooden pipe with bubbles. As it turned out, the bubble pipe caper only happened once.

Dad never threw away our handmade gifts. The clay handprints and waxed paper bookmarks filled with melted crayons were proudly displayed on his desk, along with photos of his five kids. Even the awkward beautiful middle school pictures with dominant front teeth, before braces, stayed right on his desk. He probably would have loved soap on a rope.

How about you? If you are missing your dad right now, or maybe you are a father grieving the loss of a beloved child, Father’s Day can feel suffocating.What will you do with Father’s Day this year? Maybe one of these ideas will help:

Change things up. Spend time with family or friends who understand. Be intentional as you plan a strategy for the holiday. You might even want to get out of town somewhere refreshing and away from the Father’s Day crowds.

Tell somebody. Often after losing someone, you’re surrounded by people, flowers and a mountain of cards. Then, a few weeks later the flowers fade and everybody seems to disappear. The silence can be deafening. If you’re struggling this Father’s day you may have to let someone know. Friends might need a little coaching to know what you need.

Remember. Telling your family’s stories is one of the best ways to keep memories fresh and begin to heal. Let people know it’s okay to say the name of the person you’re missing. In the wake of Kay and Pastor Rick Warren’s darkest day, the tragic death of their son Matthew, an outpouring of kindness has come from around the world. A friend asked Pastor Rick how others could help.He asked for those who knew Matthew to please send stories. What a beautiful and priceless gift.

This Father’s Day, I encourage you to keep telling the story of the life that’s much too important to be forgotten.



Beth Marshall

Beth Marshall is a freelance journalist, speaker and author of two grief-related books. Grief Survivor, 28 Steps toward Hope and Healing; and A Time to Heal, a grief journal. After losing three close people in her life, Beth felt crushed and overwhelmed by the intense emotions of grief. As she began to write about her "uniquely awesome" family members, Marshall eventually began to smile again- and even laugh. Her hope is to help others discover joy-filled life after loss.

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