It can be difficult to find the right words to express your concern when someone you know experiences the loss of a parent. When a holiday like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day comes around after they have passed, it can bring about a myriad of emotion. Instead of ignoring a hard situation and saying nothing, you can learn what to say on Father’s Day to someone who lost their dad. While nothing can bring their father back, a well-meaning sentiment can provide some peace and comfort.
“Particularly with a recent loss, this day can be very traumatic,” mental health counselor Dr. Joanne Frederick tells Romper. “See what you can do or suggest to make the day less painful for them.” Planning ahead and asking how they plan to spend the day can be a helpful approach, according to Frederick.
What to say to someone who has lost their dad on Father’s Day depends on how close you are to that person and what your own relationship looks like. For example, what you might say to a coworker will look different than how you interact with your spouse.
Above and beyond what you can say to someone on Father’s Day when they have lost their dad, Frederick says it can also be helpful to do something special together to honor their father’s memory. “If you can't be there in person, send a cute memento that will remind them of their dad, perhaps a sports team they loved, a hobby, a favorite song, or anything that personalizes a memory for them,” she suggests.
Simply letting them know that you care can go a long way, but if you’re in need of some inspiration, below are even more ideas for what to say on Father’s Day to someone who has lost their dad.
Simple yet meaningful things to say to someone grieving on Father’s Day
- I’m here for you.
- My heart is with you today.
- I’m so sorry for your loss.
- Thinking of you.
- Honoring your dad’s memory today.
- Sending you lots of love today.
- Holding you close to my heart this Father’s Day.
- I really miss your dad.
- Remembering your amazing father today.
- Your dad was just the best.
What to say to someone grieving on Father’s Day to acknowledge their loss
- May your dad’s memory live on through you.
- Your dad was one-of-a-kind and he is missed.
- I’m sure today is hard and I’m so sorry.
- My heart hurts for you.
- My deepest condolences to you and your entire family this Father’s Day.
- Your dad was such a joy and I know you miss him dearly.
- Praying for comfort for you today on Father’s Day.
- I know what a strong bond you shared with your dad and I’m very sorry for your loss.
- I didn’t know your father well, but I know he must’ve been incredible to raise someone like you.
- Take all the time you need to mourn today.
- Your dad was so special and I know you miss him every day.
- I know you miss him so much.
- It’s OK not to feel OK today.
Words of support to say to someone grieving on Father’s Day
- If you need to talk today, I’m here to listen.
- What can I do to support you today?
- I know nothing I can say will take away your hurt today, but please know that you are so loved.
- Your dad would be so proud of the person you are today.
- I don’t want to intrude, but I’m here if you need me.
- There will be zero judgement from me if you need a shoulder to cry on today.
- Are there any special memories of your dad that you’d like to share?
- Your dad loved you so much.
- How can I help you honor your dad’s memory?
- Please know that I’m here for you today and every day.
- May your dad’s spirit continue to guide you.
- I’m here however you need me today.
While there are many things you can say to someone who has lost their dad on Father’s Day, one thing not to do is complain about your own father or family. “No matter how ‘bad’ you might think your father is, your grieving friend would change places in a heartbeat,” Frederick tells Romper. “It is insensitive to bring up any sentiments about not wanting to see or be with your father on Father's Day.”
When all else fails, aim for kindness. Something as simple as a kind word can mean so much.
Dr. Joanne Frederick, licensed mental health counselor practicing in Washington, D.C.