Father’s Day Sulking Without Apology

No two ways about it, Father’s Day is pretty much my least favorite holiday. In fact, I pretty much hate the month of June in general. My father spent his last Father’s Day unconscious and vented in an ICU and died the next week.

Every year Father’s Day creeps up on me. When I realize it’s coming I start wanting to avoid, knowing darn well what a bad idea that is. I have given and taken advice for coping with tough days many times, so I know that there are many positive options for the day. I could plan to go somewhere he loved, give a donation in his memory, make a meal that reminds me of him, take photographs or create something, write a letter, journal, spend time with other family, look at photographs or home videos, go on a trip or a walk to somewhere he loved, volunteer somewhere meaningful, and on and on. After considering all these options and more I have to be honest: this year I am not feeling them. At all. Nothing seems appealing and I still want to figure out how to skip the day altogether (if anyone has developed that technology please drop me an email).

I promise you that in the years since my dad died there have been many positive, constructive Father’s Days. I am not in this horrible funk every year. I do typically try to plan and do something helpful or affirming. The thing is, I know myself well enough to know that forcing a positive, constructive Father’s Day plan from the list above just doesn’t feel like it is going to work this time. The typical ‘coping with special days and holidays’ list of advice just doesn’t feel right this year. Though ideas like yoga, meditation, journaling, and hiking are appealing, they just aren’t what I am up for.sulking

So instead I am making a plan to embrace a day of sulking. Yup. You heard me: a day of sulking. I realize this may sound counter-productive, less-than-constructive, and just generally absurd. But there are times, when life is absolutely crazy and I am stressed and tired and overwhelmed, that a day of sulking is just what I need. In my personal experience a sulking day, every now and again, is not the worst idea in the world. It actually does me some good sometimes.

Now, a day of sulking may sound like it should just unfold naturally, with no planning. I mean, who has ever made a plan to sulk? But I don’t want my day of sulking to turn into a day of laying on the sofa watching a Law and Order marathon. I like to get all I can out of my days of sulking (no I am not joking). I don’t get many options to spend time with just myself and saddness so, like my more constructive and productive Father’s Days of years past, I am making a plan. At this point you are either thinking of closing this browser window because you have decided I am just a little crazy and this is clearly the least helpful Father’s Day post ever, or you are wondering how one goes about planning a day of sulking. I can’t tell you what planning for a day of sulking would be like for you (this is a personal event, after all) but I can share what works for me.

Day of Sulking Action Item #1: A Sulking Playlist

No day of sulking can get off to a good start for me without a sulking play list. You may have caught our grief soundtrack post a while back, where Eleanor and I each created playlists for when we want to cheer up and for when we want to be sad. A day of sulking is the prime time to bust out (or create) a playlist for the days you are embracing your feelings of sad. I will create a new, long playlist before Sunday.  Check out our 64 Songs About Grief and Loss for a few playlist options.

Day of Sulking Action Item #2: The Perfect Sulking Clothes (again, I am not joking)

When you are going to set aside a day to feel sorry for yourself you don’t want to wake up only to discover your favorite comfy tee-shirt is dirty. I have a load in the hamper with my sulking outfit waiting to be washed before Sunday.

Day of Sulking Action Item #3: Plan if You Want to Be Alone

You may want to spend your sad day with someone else – someone who supports you or who shares your grief, but for me sulking is a solo project. This is one day that I am not looking for help or support. It is a day when I want to mope without anyone inadvertently making me feel bad or guilty about it. So I will be kicking my husband out of the house and spending the day with my thoughts, a book, a movie, my ipod, and my dog.

Day of Sulking Action Item #4: A Sad Movie

So sometimes there are those movies you really want to see, but you just know they are going to be intense, emotional, or an overall sob-fest. They may be related to your loss, or they may just generally look sad. A sulking day is the perfect time for a “I really want to see that sad movie but I need to be in the right frame of mind (i.e. accepting that it will tear me apart)” movie. I haven’t made a final decision on my sad Father’s Day flick, but some films in the running are The Reader, Amour, or Life is Beautiful (I am accepting votes on which movie to pick in the comments)

Day of Sulking Action Item #4: A Bookthis i know

A good book is an important part of any day of sulking day for me. I am reading This I Know by Susannah Conway currently (thanks to Tammy from Rowdy Kittens for the recommendation) and it seems a perfectly appropriate book for the day – grief coupled with hope and creative expression – right up my alley. I have actually been holding off reading the book this week so I can save finishing it for Sunday. I don’t want to start a new book on my day of sulking and risk not liking it. That could quickly turn in to deciding to watch mindless television which, for me, is not part of an ideal sulking day.

Day of Sulking Action Item #5: An Activity

Okay, this may sound dangerously productive for the day I am describing, but a well planned activity can be a great part of the day. Is there a sad activity you have been putting off? Maybe it is putting old photos in an album. Maybe it is looking through your loved one’s old cards, letters, writings, artwork or something else that may be bittersweet.

As someone further out from my loss, my activity is going to be FINALLY getting around to creating a backspaces story. If you aren’t familiar with backspac.es it is a really cool app where you can create your own photostory. After discovering it months ago I have been wanting to create one, but my ‘vision’ for a backspac.es story is a serious downer. I just haven’t been feeling ready to commit to the emotional drain it may be to put it together. So planned for Sunday is creating my backspac.es story, inspired by Father’s Day and losing my dad. I am not going to tell you what it is, because that would ruin the surprise. But I will definitely share it next week. This should be mildly productive but fit right in with embracing a day of being sad. I will share the photostory that inspired me to create my own. Click here to check out the backspaces story How it Happened.

Day of Sulking Action Item #6: Let It Go

One of the most important parts of a day like this for me is letting it go. At the end of the day I take a shower and visualize the moping, tears, and the general funk washing off me and running down the drain. Some deep breathing and meditation may be the perfect way to close the day and send your mind and body the message that sulking day is over; tomorrow is a new day.

Other prep items for me is having a notebook/journal around. I like to make sure the house is clean, because there is nothing worse than sulking in a messy house. I like to have my favorite, healthy foods around because eating like crap when I am spending a day of sulking just makes me feel gross. I like to have my favorite coffee or tea around.

There is a quote by Cassandra Clare that says, “I have the benefit of experience which tells me that sulking solves nothing”. While I wholly agree it solves nothing, it certainly has its place as I need a break sometimes from the rushing, and chit-chat, and fake smiles, and long stressful days. Every once in a while it is okay to spend a sad day just being sad.

That’s all I’ve got. I wish you a peaceful and constructive Father’s Day this Sunday, but if that isn’t where you are don’t beat yourself up. Whatever your Father’s Day is, constructive or sulking, plan for it and make it what you need it to be.

We have plenty of more useful posts on coping with special days that will be very applicable to Father’s Day, for those of you who were hoping for some better suggestions. Click our “Special Days” section over on the right to check out some ideas for honoring and remembering on holidays.

Leave a comment about what you plan to do this Father’s Day!

June 18, 2017

16 responses on "Father's Day Sulking Without Apology"

  1. is it okay to not have a plan? it’s been four years for me, which seems so hard to believe. i didn’t understand the process of grieving for a long time and spent years just trying to keep up with my peers and act as though I had accepted the loss of my dad and that everything was normal. now i’m realizing how much time i spent not pursuing my soul’s goals, instead pursuing the goals that society kind of implies you should adopt. anyway, i hope it’s okay to not have a plan. i have grown to hate this day and just want to pretend it doesn’t exist.

  2. Great article! I could definitely relate to it. Thank you.

  3. I lost my Dad nearly four years ago. I miss him terribly. My husband and I are going to visit a garden via a ferry trip, take our dog, and eat a cream tea. Dad loved afternoon teas and life in general. He was always up for a trip but spent the last 6 months of his life in hospital.

  4. Couldn’t agree more with taking to time to sulk when it comes to grief. Even if we have managed to deal with our grief in healthy ways, we do have to go through our every day lives pushing back feelings that come up triggered by who knows what. Like laughter that comes up at totally inappropriate times, the more you try to push it back, the more it wants to come out. So a sulk day lets it out, removes the pressure.

    My father hated Father’s Day (“made up holiday”), but his birthday is June 6, so the two often ran together. I was actually surprised the year after his death that his birthday bothered me more than the big holidays, probably because it was his day. I think of him a lot always, but I feel the loss more at birthday time. He’s only been gone a year and a half, but eventually I will probably set aside his birthday as a day to do whatever I need to do on the day to honor him in a way that feels right at the time.

  5. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a great sulking movie. Coco would also be a good one. and surprisingly a movie that made me cry a lot is Lady Bird – the relationship that she has with her father is very loving and I think that’s what got me.

  6. I lost my dad a week after my 32 nd birthday he had a massive heart after learning they were planning on amputation of his feet his funeral viewing ended up being on my parents 40 th wedding anniversary it broke my heart to understand the pain of what my mom must of been feeling anyways fathers day happened to be the next month which i cried and cried and was so angry i just wanted to hit something so bad so luckily i have a punching bag that helped me tremendously i put on my playlist that my reminded me of my dad and ask i listened i worked out every last drop of emotional anger build up that i cried in a way so didferent from other cries it was refreshing almost i would recommend to anyone just wanting to cry productivity if u gonna cry make it useful.

  7. This is my first Fathers Day without my dad( and its 4 months away) and I’m actually scared to look at the June calendar. We lost dad so suddenly to complications due to excessive bleeding due to warfarin ( a blood thinner) and that night my life turned upside down. I ache without dad here as he was the most incredibly happy, generous loving person I will ever know. Dad I miss your smile and the pride I’d feel when my friends and acquaintances would meet you. Everyone always told me how adorable you were and how you looked and acted 15 years younger than you were. I was so damn proud of your intelligence and your old fashioned sense of right from wrong. I so miss you as my pal, confident, guiding light and shining star. You were such an integral part of raising my children and gave them the values of what true success in life means as you did me. I miss you each and everyday and the saddest part of my life is losing you. I was so lucky to have you as my dad. What gives me some peace is knowing that I really think you knew how much i loved you and always will.

  8. This is it. This is what I have been looking to share on this Father’s Day. For people walking (and sometimes slogging through) grief, we need this acknowledgement that a sad day with a plan is a-okay. Thank you, thank you. My dad died in 2006, my mom in 2010 so I am technically an orphan which is a real pain on these kinds of holidays (and a lot of other ones too). My husband is a fantastic , flawed and loving father who feels like a failure because one of our kids is not speaking to him these days. Sometimes you just need to feel shitty, take that shower and move on. Thanks for putting this out there.

  9. Thanks for another way to deal with grief. My Dad died 35 years ago and I still cried when I read your post. But, I spent a happy day with my son and his beautiful little boys. I realized how blessed I am that he is a dad, too.

  10. Hotel Transylvania 2 — no, I’m not kidding. The father/daughter relationship in the first one killed me.

  11. My sob fest movie is Steel Magnolias.

  12. Each of us needs to take the time to set ourselves apart and grieve or sulk or just plain feel crappy. We are human. This day is not a favorite to me either. I lost my Father who was my best friend when I was seven yrs old and I am still not over it. My heart is so closely connected to him and today I celebrate my Heavenly Father but feel the sadness of my Dad here on earth. I have a black lab dog who I adore and she is such a joy and comfort to me……..We played ball and took naps anytime we wanted……..All Hail to giving ourselves to have a bad day.
    Hugs to all 🙂

  13. Wonderful! Great ideas, great perspective!

  14. I vote Life is Beautiful!!!

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