10 Ways to Honor Your Deceased Dad on Father's Day

Meaningful ways you can keep your father's memory alive during the holiday

woman placing flowers next to tombstone
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The annual Father's Day holiday can prove challenging for anyone mourning the loss of his or her dad, even many years after he died. This article offers 10 meaningful ways that you can honor your deceased father and keep his memory alive on Father's Day or any of the other 364 days in the year.

Put a "Shrimp on the Barbie"

If your dad enjoyed firing up the grill and cooking up burgers, brats, steaks, chicken, fish or anything else the family desired, then don an apron, grab some tongs and serve your family a feast in his honor.

(And even if your father didn't care to cook, he probably had a favorite meal or restaurant that you could also enjoy during the holiday.)

You might offer a few words about your favorite food- or meal-related memory before you and your family dive in to the meal you prepared.

The Write Stuff

Writing or journaling your thoughts and feelings is an effective way to reduce stress and often proves therapeutic. Whether you express yourself best sitting at your computer or using paper and pen, consider writing a private letter or even a poem describing how much your father means to you.

Pay Him a Visit

Honor your deceased father this Father's Day, his birthday or some other special day by visiting his gravesite, the spot where his cremated remains ("ashes") were scattered, or some other location significant to your dad. While there, you should remove any debris, such as leaves or dead flowers, from his resting place and then leave a fresh floral bouquet to mark your visit and your love.

Enlarge Your Family Tree

If you have the space in your yard, consider planting a tree in memory of your dad. After buying the sapling from a nursery, dig the hole and then have your family gather 'round to say a few words or share their favorite memories about your father. After placing the tree in the hole, ask each family member to toss a handful of dirt in before you finish planting and watering the tree.

You could also place a small engraved "In Memory of..." plaque at the base of this living reminder of your dad. (Incidentally, if you don't have the space to plant a tree, consider donating one to a local hospice, library or place of worship to beautify your community in your father's memory.)

Hit the Road

Did your dad enjoy watching his favorite baseball team at the ballpark? Was his love of fishing exceeded only by the size of "the one that got away"? Did he relish time spent at a cabin in the great outdoors or on a golf course? Whether near or far, if there was a particular place or activity he loved, then gather your family, pile into the car and hit the open road as a tribute to Dad.

"I Never Told You This, But..."

If there's one thing you wish you could/would have said to your dad before he died but never did, write it on an index card, tie it to a helium balloon and release it from a place special to your father. No, your dad won't actually get your message, but the symbolic nature of this gesture will likely prove more powerful and moving than you think.

Share Your "Kodak Moments"

Most families have an old shoebox filled with photographs sitting around that they've always meant to organize.

(And even if you're a child of the Information Age, chances are your digital pictures are just as chaotic.) Father's Day or a long holiday weekend offer a great opportunity to dig through those images with your family, share the stories behind the photos and create a special scrapbook or slideshow as a tribute to your father.

Heal by Helping

Make a donation to a cause meaningful to your dad in his memory, or to help find a cure for a disease, such as cancer or Alzheimer's. You might also consider volunteering a few hours of your time to benefit others. For a list of opportunities to help someone else in your area, please visit the Volunteer Match website.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Shoot a simple tribute video with your smart phone, or create a fully edited slideshow from your favorite photographs and set it to music. Once finished, share it with your family and friends, or post it online like this YouTube tribute video to let the world know how much you love your father.

Find a Paternal Proxy

If you traditionally took your dad out for a meal on Father's Day, his birthday or some other special day, gave him a gift or just hung out with him for an afternoon, consider brightening life for another father by doing the same thing for him. If you don't know of somebody already, ask around at your place of worship, a nursing home or hospice, or even at your workplace. While your father can never be replaced, consider your actions a gesture of love in his memory that would make him proud of the child he raised.

Additional Reading:
When the Holidays Hurt
Words of Inspiration: Fathers

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