Friday, June 14, 2013

Father's Day Without Your Father

I drove from Kansas City to Oklahoma to bury my father in a Veteran's Cemetery two years ago this summer, not long after Father's Day. I have not really thought much about that day in the following two years.  Which now feels kind of strange. Shouldn't I be think about it like a normal grieving adult child?

It occurs to me now as I anticipate my wife and kids to celebrate my tenure as a father, that days like these are also memorial days for so many people.  Although I have talked with many people who have also lost one or both of their parents, it never really occurred to me as it is this week, the profound impact of what it means to 'celebrate' Father's Day without your father.

The commercialization of Father's Day really doesn't allow much room for remembrance unless your family has well established rituals to honor the fathers in your family that have died.  Sure we can buy books, ties, fancy car washing gadgets for the dads in our lives right now, but what do we have as a society to help us reflect?  In the lead up to Father's Day 2013, a  few articles have highlighted fatherhood and end of life issues that I wanted to point you to.

Charles Ornstein published an essay in the Washington Post on how the widowhood effect (known academically as the bereavement effect) might have impacted the death of his father so soon after the death of his mother. Suzana Makowski covered Mr. Ornstein's story for Pallimed back in April - 'End of Life in the News: Where are all the Palliative Care Teams?'

In Spirit Magazine (Southwest Airlines) a feature article highlighted Lt. Col. Mark M. Weber and his website and book Tell My Sons.... The video trailer embedded below gives you a quick glance at Lt. Col. Weber's story.

A lot of these stories remind me of Randy Pausch and how he elevated his role as father to become a teacher and guide to his children and family long after he would no longer be walking beside them.

And of course we have the upcoming Global Screening Day June 21st for "I Am Breathing" the story of Neil Platt and the legacy he gave to his wife and daughter.  He was featured in a Pallimed post by Paul Tatum just last month, who is also hosting a screening in Columbia MO next week.

So if you are spending this Father's Day without your father, please share with us your memories and your rituals so that we all may learn.

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Photo Credit: Sinclair Racing by Christian Sinclair

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