When a day like Father’s Day is approaching, there are images everywhere on social media, television, and printed ads of families coming together to honor Dad.
For widows, however, Father’s Day may be a dreaded day.
Whether a woman is newly widowed or lost their spouse years ago, it is a day rife with complicated and difficult emotions.
It’s vital to show support and love to widows on Father’s Day, to help create new memories and honor the memory of their lost love. But, it can be difficult to know what to do, or what to say. Nobody wants to inadvertently say or do the ‘wrong’ thing, but don’t let that make you shy away from the topic altogether. Show a widow in your life that you are there for her, even if it’s in some small way.
Ways to Support a Widow on Father’s Day
The first rule of thumb is not to ignore the fact that this could be a hard day or pretend that it isn’t happening. A phone call, text, or card to a widow on Father’s Day that shows you are thinking of them goes a long way towards reminding a widow that she isn’t alone.
Other ideas of ways to support widows on Father’s Day include:
Plan Ahead: Think ahead and talk to her about ideas you have for Father’s Day. Ask what would be helpful, and what wouldn’t be helpful before making plans, both to be sure it’s appropriate, and to give everyone something to look forward to. This may relieve some anxiety about how she will navigate the day.
A Gathering of Loved Ones: If she’s agreeable to it, plan a gathering of loved ones and friends. Talk to her about ways she wants to honor her spouse; should it be a more somber occasion or would she prefer a celebration of his life? Perhaps she would prefer not to address Father’s Day directly but would rather not be alone. It’s important to find this out in advance to mark the occasion appropriately.
Offer a Break: For widows with children at home, offer to take the kids on an outing and give her a day of rest and relaxation, or a day of pampering. Even if she doesn’t have children at home, she may enjoy a gift certificate to a salon, spa, or massage to get a break from the daily grind.
Give a Small Gift: Especially over time, the help that surrounds a widow in the weeks and months following her husband’s death tends to wane. Everyone starts to go back to ‘normal’, when nothing will feel normal for a widow ever again. Remembering her on Father’s Day with a bouquet of flowers, a special baked treat, or thoughtful card shows that people remember and support her no matter how much time has passed.
Share Memories: Chatting over a cup of coffee or looking through photo albums may be exactly what she needs. As always, though, it’s important to know if this would be helpful and not to be afraid to ask.
Listen: The most important gift you can give a widow on Father’s Day is the gift of listening. The small act of being present, listening, and holding space for someone on a tough day helps.
Call, Text, or Video Chat: In the age of COVID-19, getting together in person may not be feasible, so a call, video chat, or text to tell her you are thinking of her is helpful. Don’t presume that ‘enough time has gone by’ or that you don’t want to broach a difficult topic. Whether her husband’s death happened recently or years ago, sometimes widows need to share memories of their loved ones or feelings about their loss.
The bottom line? Be present, loving, and compassionate on Father’s Day. Listen.
Be there for her, in whatever capacity she needs. And ask. Don’t be afraid to ask her what would be the most helpful for her.