June 17, 2018 8:00 am

‘Father’s Day is bittersweet’: honouring the dads who’ve been lost over the years

WATCH: Losing a parent can be difficult, especially on Father's Day. Here are some suggestions on how to cope.


Maryam Hachem always felt like she was her father’s shadow.

The 27-year-old, stay-at-home mom from Pickering, Ont., would be by his side, hip-to-hip, following him to Home Depot or helping him with home repairs.

“I loved being with him,” she tells Global News. “My favourite memories of my dad is when he would take me and my friends tobogganing at the park, going on long drives and just talking about everything.”

Her father Imad passed away on June 2007, after losing his battle to bile duct cancer.

Maryam Hachem and her dad. Photo courtesy of Maryam Hachem.

“[He] was a pretty old fashioned but was so kind and sweet. I remember him taking me shopping, even for my first bra believe it or not.”

READ MORE: With social media, you don’t have to grieve alone

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For anyone who has lost a parent, holidays like Father’s Day can become overwhelming and emotionally exhausting. For many, it reminds them of spending time with their fathers. For others, it’s a chance to commemorate loss.

And with social media intertwined in our lives more than ever, a lot of people are also triggered by their loss, especially after seeing friends and family sharing their own Father’s Day photos.

“Father’s Day is bittersweet,” Hachem continues. “I reflect on the good memories but can’t help myself from becoming an emotional sob.”

Coping with loss

Psychotherapist Lucia Gallegos of Toronto previously told Global News, the month of June can be a difficult time for anyone who has lost their a father, just like May is for Mother’s Day.

Gallegos said there are several things people who have lost fathers can do on Father’s Day.

“Find a way to validate those emotions and be around people you can talk to,” she said, adding you can honour Dad by doing things he loved, or going through old photos and videos.

READ MORE: Grief can be a ‘lifelong’ journey when death is unexpected — tips on how to cope

For Hachem, Father’s Day is also an added layer of emotions because her dad’s funeral was on the same day in 2007.

“I pray for him and reminisce on the good old days. I try to make the best of it by celebrating my mom and my husband and making their favourite meals or doing something special for them.”

Remembering Dad

For actor Alys Crocker of Toronto, even though Father’s Day continues to be difficult every year, she tries her best to celebrate her dad.

“To honour him, I usually write a letter telling him about what’s going on in my life and letting him know how much I miss him and that he has not been forgotten,” the 29-year-old tells Global News. “If I am unable to leave the letter at his grave site, then I make it into a paper boat and send it off into the lake, which was his favourite place in the world.”

Crocker lost her father in 2003 when she was 14. After a long fight with severe depression since he was a teenager, her father died by suicide that year.

Alys Crocker and her father. Photo provided by Alys Crocker. 

“I was very close with my father and I really looked up to him. Everyone referred to me as a ‘daddy’s girl’ when I was growing up and he definitely favoured me, the baby of the family and the only girl,” she says.

“My dad instilled a love of film within me that exists to this day and that I credit with shaping my career path.”

Some of the her favourite pastimes with her dad included watching classic films, or when he challenged her with the same questions he would ask his high school students.

“I remember him always listening intently to my answers and encouraging me to elaborate, which made me feel as if I was being taken seriously and treated like an adult in the conversation.”

Living with grief

And for some who have to live with this loss, Gallegos adds this could mean not doing anything on Father’s Day — and that’s OK. Take a social media cleanse and spend time with people close to you who understand what you’re going through.

But Crocker says to celebrate Dad, reach out to people who knew him.

“Share stories, anecdotes and laughs with the other people who are missing him as well, because I can promise you, that you are not the alone in your loss. And consequently, that your loss doesn’t have to feel quite so lonely.”

READ MORE: ‘Her love for me never died’: How to celebrate the moms no longer with us

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide PreventionDepression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.


© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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