Father's Day 2018
For the 2,808 Dinner Partiers for whom Father’s Day is a harder day than most: For the people who’ve lost a father, stepfather, or father figure. For the fathers who’ve lost a child. For the folks who never had a father to begin with. For the over 20% of people who submitted a story about losing their dad to suicide, depression, addiction, and/or other sources of stigma, especially during this past week.
For those in Year 1 and those in Year 21 of life after.
What follows are 150+ stories of Dinner Partiers who have lost a father, father figure, or child from 25 states and 5 countries: stories that are heart-breaking and heart-warming and everything in between. Stories of people who lived, and those who’ve gone on living in their memory.
Read on, and know this: You are not alone. And together, we’ve got this.
Taylor | Boston
What's your dad's name? Dan
What's something helpful that someone did for you after you lost your dad? My dad loved drinking Coronas with a lime slice. On his birthday every year, I try to drink one. I really appreciated when I explained this to my friends and they would join me in having Coronas! It's a small gesture, but it's meaningful.
Gina | Springfield, VA
What's your dad's name? Huy Mai
What do you miss (or not miss) about your dad? I miss his smile. He had chipped a tooth from trying to crack a watermelon seed several years ago. But it is still the best damn smile I've ever seen.
Patty | Oklahoma City
What's your dad's name? Bill Weldon
What is Father's Day like for you now? It’s tough. Last year was our first Father’s Day without him- a month after we lost him in the car accident. It’s a lonely, isolating feeling.
Is there anything else that you want to share or that you wish we had asked you? There is so much beauty in this grief we all share. It ripped me open and, although I have bad days, it has peeled away layers and have led to a freedom I can’t quite put into words. It’s like you can’t unknow how precious and brutal this whole life thing is after you lose someone so dear to you.
Sandie | Murrieta, CA
What is your dad's name? Eduardo "Eddie" Valenzuela
What do you miss (or not miss) about your dad?
MISS: His (terrible) singing. NOT MISS: His (terrible) singing.
What's your dad's name? Gus Jones
What's something helpful that someone did for you after you lost your dad? One helpful thing that a coworker of my Dad's told me after he passed was, "I'm so sorry for your loss. This is going to hurt for a long time." She had lost her father too and knew what my sisters and I were going through. It was brutally honest, but I appreciated and connected to it much more than when people would say things like, "He's in a better place now," or else, expected me to be finished grieving after a few months. It was a life-changing moment and it felt good for someone to sort of validate that for me.
Adam | Amsterdam
What's your dad's name? Lenny
What do you miss (or not miss) about your dad? His sense of humor and casual, comforting worth. His intelligent, informed opinion on politics. I would give anything to be able to discuss our current political situation with him.
What do you wish people would ask you about your dad? Sometimes I wish people wouldn't just assume that both of my parents are alive.
Danielle | Peoria, IL
What's your dad's name? Tom
What's something helpful that someone did for you after you lost your dad? I had several friends that were just willing to come over and be with me and my husband, we just played games and had snacks and laughed, that was very important for me to find some joy in the sadness.
Is there anything else that you want to share or that you wish we had asked you? I just appreciate the awareness being brought to the fact that Father's Day is not joyous for us all and giving us the ability to share our stories without being a downer.
Dani | San Francisco
What's your dad's name? Roy Grodsky
Is there anything else that you want to share? ... before I was born my dad was on Oprah as 'God's Gift to Women' haha!
Hope | Essex, England
What's your dad's name? Nick
What's something helpful that someone did you for after you lost your dad? Hugged me, offered a private safe space for me to be alone if I wanted, and reassured me that this is my journey and there is no right way to do it.
What is Father's Day like for you now? We'll find out on Sunday...
Amir | San Francisco
What is your dad's name? Mansur Nathoo
What is your favorite memory of your dad? Sitting outside in the summer enjoying a plate of delicious food and glass of red wine with him. He was so happy about the simple things.
What is Father’s Day like for you now?I feel like an outsider, jealous of others who still have their dads, and angry about my bad luck and loss.
Eva | Oakland
What is your dad's name? Jerry Silverman
What do you miss (or not miss) about your dad? Everything. I miss having someone for whom I am their #1 priority, and a loving, gentle safety net. On a deeper level, I miss getting to do all the things we loved to do together - listening to music, garage-sale shopping, going to shows, etc. My dad and I were companions in a lot of ways, and I really miss sharing my day-to-day life with him. I dream of introducing him to my people and taking him around where I live today, seeing it through his eyes.
What's something helpful that someone did for you after you lost your dad? My best friend and I started talking on the phone every day, which is what I did with my dad (even though I was in college). Having someone to check-in with and share my sorrow and love and grief was really meaningful. Also, I had to take care of my dog (who was living with my dad) after he died, and the college let me live in non-traditional-age-student housing, which was right across the street from my friends and where I used to live. The kitchen staff there fed me every meal, even though I was no longer on the meal plan. They knew what had happened and it provided immense comfort to continue that routine and be with my friends.
Is there anything else that you want to share or that you wish we had asked you? Not exactly, but I guess I wanted to share this: I lost my mom when I was 10. My dad and I were incredibly close even before that, but once it was just the two of us, we became even closer - in some ways, like companions. There were so many overlapping interests that we had and it was a real joy to be supported and love by a parent who ‘got me.’ My dad, who was a sweet, sensitive, new-agey type guy who ran and ate vegetarian and juiced vegetables every morning (and this in suburban NJ in the 80s and 90s), believed that him and I had been connected in a past life. Our bond was so strong, and boy did it feel like such a blessing to have it, and such a crime to lose it at 19.
Jessica | Philadelphia
What's your dad's name? Joseph Johnson
What is your favorite memory of your dad? On Dec 31st-Jan 1st, 2002 my family had a New Year’s Eve party and it was the first and last time I slow danced with my dad. I remember being slightly embarrassed and a family friend pulled me aside and told me to never be embarrassed about your parent showing you love because you never know how long it will last. A little dark for an 11 year old but it stuck with me forever. My dad died a month later.
Lauren | Nashville
What's your dad's name? Dan Manning
What is your favorite memory of your dad? The day my husband and I told our families, including my dad, that we were expecting our daughter Adilynn is one of my favorite memories of my dad... Telling a dad you are pregnant can be a bit awkward but my dad was beyond thrilled to be a "Grandan". My husband and I asked the family to keep it quiet for a few more weeks but my dad just couldn't. He was already on the phone with his sisters, his coworkers, and even blurted it out at our next family trivia night at the local restaurant.
My dad died suddenly 11 days before Adilynn was born so her birth and his death will always be connected.
What's something helpful that someone did for you after you lost your dad? I was so very pregnant and then so very tired from a newborn, the grief I felt was wrapped into all things situational. I couldn't separate the new mother fatigue from the grief and would just cry wondering how my life was so off course yet so expected at the same time.
I had a few friends with young kids who also experienced loss as a young adult who extended support, validated my feelings of grief and parenthood, and made their presence known in my life. Knowing I wasn't alone and that on my worst days, I was supported and understood made all the difference.
Katie | NYC
What's your dad's name? Joe Carnazza
What do you wish people would ask you about your dad? Mostly, I wish people would tell me about my dad. He was sick for a lot of my life and I desperately want to hear other people's memories of him.
Sarah | Los Angeles
What's your dad's name? Scott Hinchcliff
What is your favorite memory of your dad? Trying to jump start our rental car on the side of a dirt road in Costa Rica. What do you miss (or not miss) about your dad? His laugh, his humor, drinking with him!
Femke + Saskia | United Kingdom
What's something helpful that someone did for you after you lost your dad? A friend's partner who has also lost his father gave me a hug and said 'It's brutal losing a Dad.' In a culture that finds it hard to name the pain of loss and death, this felt hugely valuable and real. -- Femk
Erica | Jackson, MS
What is your dad's name? Bryan Hensley, died in 2013 at age 55, by suicide
What is your favorite memory of your dad? Generally, Christmas time. He would just get so excited to decorate, pick out special presents for everyone he loved (a "love language" I definitely inherited from him), prepare festive meals and generally revel in the family togetherness. Toward the end of his life, watching sobriety transform his life... once he committed to sobriety, I watched him recapture his former self, celebrate the small things in life, develop new tastes (like for sushi, something I thought that good ol' southern boy would never try), travel to new and foreign places, and reclaim once loved, familial hobbies, like bird-watching and carpentry.
Is there anything else that you want to share or that you wish we had asked you? A big part of my recovery has been trying to educate both survivors and those with no understanding of grief, about suicide and its debilitating stigma for all affected. I wrote about my journey and how the press, friends and family can do better to honor, quell and understand suicide and survivors here.
Roger | Santa Monica, CA
What's your dad's name? Billy
What is your favorite memory of your dad? In the summer months growing up my dad would swim with my sister and I in our backyard pool every evening. I think he mainly did it for the exercise as he regularly did laps, only I would stand on his back like I was surfing and try to stay afloat. This memory speaks to his incredible patience and attitude on life. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.
What's something helpful that someone did for you after you lost your dad? A close friend of mine downloaded all of the old voicemails and messages I had from my dad onto a separate hard drive. I didn’t ask...they just offered. So much of the grieving process is made up of other people asking if you need anything. This was just a way they jumped in and acted and I’m incredibly grateful.
Inez | Huntington Beach
What's your dad's name? Elmo Falcon
What is your favorite memory of your dad? I have too many favorite memories of my dad, but I have been thinking a lot lately about Saturday mornings when I was in high school. I would wake up late usually to the sound of him vacuuming and blasting "American Pie" by Don McLean around the house, and when I would come downstairs, he would ask if I wanted to go get a Costco hotdog with him. That is something that defined my home to me at the time, and something I think about a lot on Saturday mornings in my home now.
What's something helpful that someone did for you after you lost your dad? Every year on my dad's birthday, I get a hotdog from Costco, because he loved them. I've never had to go alone because one of my best friends and my husband have gone with me when they've been in town.
Megan | NYC
What's your dad's name? Daniel William Wrappe
Is there anything else that you want to share or that you wish we had asked you? What things have you been able to do to honor your father's memory? I am in a unique situation where my Dad's alma mater has been a huge, HUGE help to me in the grieving process. Last year and earlier this month, The University of Notre Dame allowed me to attend my Dad's college reunions in his place. I didn't know any of his classmates before I went, but I walked away from the weekend with a bigger appreciation for this amazing school. People truly understood why I was there, and treated me so warmly! They introduced me to other classmates who knew my Dad, and many who did not know him simply told me how happy they were that I was there representing him. I'm an only child, so carrying on my Dad's memory and legacy is extremely important to me. So, to have the opportunity to do this at one of his favorite places is nothing short of an honor.
Caroline | Philly
What's your dad's name? Brad Hall
What do you miss (or not miss) about your dad? I miss his hugs. Any time that he's in my dreams, I hug him. And I cry. It's like even while dreaming that he's there, I know he's not there. So I hug him and I cry. What do you wish people would ask you about your dad? Anything! So few friends ever bring him up! It gets frustrating when we talk about your dad - what you did with together, what he's like, a story from your childhood, a conversation you had together, what he does for a living, what you're doing next with him, and the list goes on - and they just avoid the topic of my dad. That's a constant measurement in my head: "We talked about your dad twice for 5 minutes, we should have talked about mine at least that much! Maybe more since he's dead and you'll never meet him!"
Debra | San Diego
What's your dad's name? Henry, but everyone called him Joe
What's something helpful that someone did for you after you lost your dad? I had a really rough time trying to figure out how to feel connected with him after he died. I wasn't sure if I should be looking up at the sky wondering if he was looking down on me or take on a more morbid view in thinking of him as permanently buried six feet under. My boyfriend at the time explained to me that through physic's law of conservation of energy and thermodynamics, energy cannot be created nor can it be destroyed. And so when we die, our individual "energy" is emitted from our bodies and will continue to echo all around us for all of space and time. So, now I just think of him as being everywhere all the time which has been extremely comforting.
Alex | Los Angeles
What's your dad's name? John
What is Father’s Day like for you now? Honestly, now I spend Father's Day celebrating myself. My dad's been gone for 11 years so I celebrate being my own "father" for the last 11 years. I take myself to dinner or to do something fun.
Lily | Philadelphia
What's your dad's name? Rickey Black
What's something helpful that someone did for you after you lost your dad? Someone encouraged me to share my dad with others, even people he never met. I was given the idea to hold a gathering/party in my current city with my community after the funeral. I did it the weekend of my dad's birthday (about a month after he died). It was a way for me to come back from the funeral in my hometown and share what was going on with me and also share parts of him with my friends. I read some poetry, played his favorite music and mostly just had a good time with people I love
Nicole | NYC
What's your dad's name? Doug
What is your favorite memory of your dad? Before bed time, Dad would hold me up in the air and spin me around the living room so I could pretend that I was an airplane flying through the air at what he called "warp speed." Looking back on it now, there had to have been days when he was tired or stressed; but when I asked him to play "airplane" he never said no.
Katie | Los Angeles
What's your dad's name? Larry Chapmon
What is your favorite memory of your dad? I fondly remember that he microwaved 2 pieces of bread with 2 pieces of cheese and tried to pass it off as "grilled cheese". My sister and I weren't having any of it.
Katie | Queens
What's your dad's name? Denny Hanna
What is Father’s Day like for you now? This is my third Father's Day without my dad, and it's gotten a little easier since the first one, but it's still really hard! I'm happy for everyone who still has their dad in their life, but...I'm also jealous.