Coping Skills to Approach Fathers Day When They’re No Longer with You, Guest Writer: Courtney Nestor

June is a tough month to be honest. I can’t even go to Target without seeing the Father’s Day cards just staring at me reminding me of another year that my Dad is gone. I start thinking about our last Father’s Day together where my dad made the most luscious steaks while wearing his “King of the Grill” apron. We played baseball in the front yard and the day felt long. That day was 10 years ago and I still remember it like yesterday. I miss those days with him grilling and family being around and together celebrating our dad.

10 years later, I have learned a few things that have helped me cope with the loss of my Dad that I would like to share with you. I want to preface this post with that what I will say has helped me and I know that each loss and grief journey is different and each relationship with a dad is different. Some of you might have had an estranged relationship with a father. Some of you did not have that same father figure even in your life. Some of you may have been adopted so your dad has a new role in your life. Some of you had a great relationship with a father. You have your own experience, but I hope that through me sharing my learned coping skills and encouragement to you for this Father’s Day, I hope you find yourself refreshed, encouraged, and prompted to be reflective about whatever your experience has been with or without a dad.

One thing I would encourage you in as you prep for Father’s Day is being mindful of your body. Notice how you feel physically. Notice any tension, tightness. Are you clenching your teeth resulting in holding stress in your jaw? Honestly, I did not realize how much tightness I had in my jaw so I give jaw a massage or ask my sweet husband to give my jaw a massage. TRY IT- jaw massages are so nice and it really releases some pressure in the jaw area. Are you more tired when Father Days comes around? I know I am. I need more sleep, my mind is racing so I am physically exhausted. Be mindful of any physical symptoms because our body knows when we are feeling stressed, sad, mad, tired etc. Noticing our body will bring more awareness of how you really are feeling emotionally and sometimes the physical symptoms come before the emotions do. So take a bath, exercise, get 7-8 hours of sleep, eat healthy and notice how your body is feeling. Listen to your body! Tip- google UCLA mindfulness, and try the body scan to observe your body and how it is feeling. This is a great daily practice, but also for harder days like Father’s Day.

After you observe your physical body, begin to notice your thoughts, emotions, feelings and mood. Are you more sad than normal? Are you avoiding your feelings and emotions as Father’s Day draws closer? I notice myself being more sad, withdrawn/isolated, anxious and overwhelmed knowing that Father’s Day is coming. Emotions are so good to process through and I want to encourage you to dig deeper beyond the base emotions which are feeling sad, mad, happy, bad, surprised and fearful. (Google emotions wheel- so helpful) Think of these emotions as the tip of an ice berg. There are so many different emotions that are underneath these base emotions and I want to encourage you to dig deep in how you’re really feeling. This may be uncomfortable and you may cry and you know what, that is OKAY. However you’re feeling, notice those emotions and allow yourself to sit in them. It is important that as you’re digging deeper, reach out to supportive family or friends, pray, journal, hike, scream in a pillow or in your car. Your emotions are meant to be released and it is okay to feel them. Tip- keep a thought/emotions record to monitor what you’re thinking and telling yourself. This can assist you in managing your emotions and help regulate yourself when you’re feeling more low, depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, etc.

This process is daily for me and sometimes moment to moment. There is no right way of grieving, but there is healthy coping so whatever that looks like for you, do it. Because our emotions are correlated with our physical symptoms and vice versa, I believe that when we can be more self-aware and mindful of both, we can allow ourselves to cope in a healthy way. I would encourage you to just be in the moment and allow yourself to feel the emotions as they come, no judgement of feeling weak or small, but rather being human and processing through those emotions. My husband asks me each year what I want to do for Father’s Day and honestly, sometimes, I just don’t know how I am going to be that day, but I also know how I can cope pre-Father’s Day. I feel it out and I don’t plan much. What I have found to be consistently a good choice of activities that reminds me of my dad is going to the beach, drinking coffee and eating good food. I celebrate my dad on Father’s Day even though he is not here. I believe I can honor the amazing father he was and remember the joyful memories I will always keep with me. He may not physically be here, but I carry him with me always because I am his daughter. So as Father’s Day is creeping up, try to take inventory of yourself and see what you need. Maybe you’ll be celebrating another dad in the family, your spouse as a dad, or maybe you don’t have someone who is a fatherly figure and it is just another day. This practice can only benefit you and I pray it is beneficial for your mental and physical health this Father’s Day.

thank you for reading and I am praying for your hearts this week <3

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Courtney Nestor xoxo

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1 Comment

  • Sheri Raphael 1 month ago Reply

    Absolutely beautfully said Courtney…I am very proud of the woman you have become and will continue to be…I know your dad has always been a very proud dad of his children…He will always be in your memories and there are lots of them…I need to practice the things that you wrote…I love you with all my heart!!

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