I remember my first Father's Day after Mark took his life. I felt like a failure as a father. I didn't want to celebrate, but my family was there to try to cheer me up. It was too early in my grief. I had just begun trying to get in a work routine, and find some normalcy in my life. Then Father's Day brought it all crashing back down again.
Grief requires time. The grief from the loss of a child does not go away. You learn to live with it. Subsequent Father's Days were not as difficult as the first. For me, when I had something planned, I had a better day. It gave me something to look forward to instead of just a special day to be sad. Having plans is one way to get the focus off of your loss and focus on the present. It is not that you want to forget your child, you just don't have to make thinking about them the entirety of your day.
As a pastor, I always have some plans on Father's Day. My Sunday morning is filled with church services and wishing the men Happy Father's Day. After that, my son, Drew, usually stops by in the afternoon with his family to visit for a while. We celebrate fatherhood and enjoy the day. I will also spend time thinking about Mark. I wish he was here, and maybe he would have been a father, as well. I think of what could have been. Then, I return to the present, and I let it go. It is not healthy for me to stay in the world of 'would have' and 'could have,' but it is okay to visit every now and then.