Some people have regrets and sadness surrounding their fathers and Father’s Day. Maybe your father passed away or you are not speaking to him or he is not speaking to you. Or maybe something awful happened that you find hard (or currently impossible) to forgive.
This article is not about forgiveness, and that is a topic I will delve into in more detail. For now I will just say that forgiveness is not about letting the other person “off the hook”. It does not mean what they did was okay nor that you like them or want to spend time with them. It is about finding your own inner peace and releasing anger that holds you back from living your life to the fullest. But I do digress…
This year, I am writing my father a letter for Father’s day about what he has done right and what I have learned from him. I wrote him a letter about his failings a few weeks ago… so he already has that one…
He really is/was a wonderful father, but we all have failings and sometimes it is important to let someone know that they are hurting you and how. By the way, his response to that was really lovely: he let me know that he had not realized he hurt me, that he was sorry, and that he appreciated me. Not all release letters that get sent are guaranteed such positive results! In fact I often think it is best not to send such letters, especially if you wrote them while very emotional.
I thought I would take the occasion of Father’s Day to write a positive letter.
Even if your father has passed away or you are not in contact or there is not too much positive stuff to say, I think that writing Dad a letter can be a wonderful emotional release.
Depending on your beliefs, if he has passed away, he will still be able to see the letter.
And for those who don’t speak to their fathers or who have nothing nice to say to them, the letter can be kept, thrown out, burnt… whatever seems appropriate.
I am a big fan of such “release” letters. I think that we can help ourselves sort through so many emotions this way. For me, though, today, I will use the release letter to release all the positive thoughts I have about my father for Father’s day.
A few tips:
1. Be genuine and honest. If you just want to say flowery, kind things, stick to a Hallmark card. In my father’s case he is eccentric and that taught me that it is okay to be different and do things differently. Thank you for being eccentric, Dad!
2. Tell Dad what you learned from him. My dad taught me math, but that was sort of unimportant to me (sorry, Dad). However, from his example, I learned integrity and honesty, both of which are rare and beautiful.
3. If you find your letter veering into negative topics, allow yourself to write it all out. You probably need the release. However, then you need to make a decision: Is this a Father’s Day letter? If so, you may want to edit out the negative parts later. And even if you do that, you still may choose to discuss these things with your father or a therapist. Or you may feel better just having gotten your thoughts down on “paper”.
Writing a Father’s Day release letter can be an excellent gift for your father for Father’s Day if you only include the positive parts. It can also be an excellent way to resolve feelings of regret or sadness you have on Father’s Day.
Maybe your father passed away or you are estranged. If so, you could use the Father’s day release letter to tell him what he meant/means to you, to tell him about any lingering issues or resentments, to ask him questions, to forgive him, to ask him for forgiveness, or just to give him a yearly update on how your life is going.
I welcome your thoughts and ideas on this.