Celebrating Father’s Day When Dad is Seriously Ill

Father’s Day means celebrating Dad and all he loves: backyard barbecues, spending the day together at his favorite golf course, or cheering his favorite basketball team to victory. For those whose loved one is coping with a serious illness, Father’s Day can be an emotionally challenging day. During a day that is centered around family, joy, and life, it can be difficult to feel festive when a family member may be facing a limited life expectancy. Celebrating Dad when Dad is seriously ill may not be like those Father’s Days in the past. But you can still find ways to make the day special and celebrate your dad or a special father figure in your life.

The main goal should be to make the day’s celebration feel as normal as possible, much like past Father’s Days felt, within your loved one’s ability to participate. The most important outcome is celebrating this special day together, and being focused on treasuring this time versus worrying too much about making a perfect Father’s Day.

This Mother’s Day may not be like past Mother’s Days. But it may become the most special one of all. Try and reframe your thinking to celebrate this person on their special day rather than dwell on what may have been lost. Make the most of every moment and gather these memories to live in your heart.

Five Tips on Celebrating Father’s Day When Dad Is Seriously Ill

Here are some tips on how to still celebrate this special day and what to do when Dad is seriously ill:

Ask Dad: Ask Dad about some of his favorite Father’s Days in the past. He’s likely to tell you it wasn’t about what you did, but about being together. Try and recreate some of his favorite memories.

Be realistic: Be realistic in planning the day’s activities according to your loved one’s current health condition. Dad may not be able to walk a golf course, but maybe he can hit balls in the backyard. If Dad is confined to a chair, then going out to the movies may not work. Instead, set up an outdoor screen in the backyard and have movie night at home. If the family tradition is going to a ballgame together, have the grandkids and siblings play ball in the backyard where Dad can watch from a comfortable lounge chair or from a view out the window. Activities should be based on his ability to enjoy them. Think of refocusing how you used to celebrate in a different way. Create a drilled-down version of the same loved activity.

Plan ahead: To make the most of the day, take steps to ensure Dad will feel his best. Seeing his physician to ensure his condition is as stable as possible can help ensure he can enjoy the day. Make sure he has not missed any doctor appointments. Ensure medications are refilled and taken properly. If Dad has mobility issues, consider where to celebrate. If you are going to a restaurant, find one that takes reservations so there is no long wait for a table. Choose a restaurant that is easy to navigate if he is in a wheelchair or on a walker. If a family member is going to host, choose the home that is the most handicapped friendly. Considering obstacles with preplanning can help make the celebration go more smoothly and make Dad feel less hampered by his illness.

Have a backup plan: When living with serious illness, there will be good days and bad days. If on the day of celebration Dad suddenly does not feel like going to the restaurant or leaving his house, have a backup plan to bring the celebration to him. If the plans were to go out to his favorite restaurant, pick up to go. If you were going to host at your house, cook at his house. Remember, it’s not about what you do, but about honoring your dad simply by spending time together. Be flexible, not perfect.

Allow yourself to have fun and enjoy the day: Instead of worrying about what will happen in the future, make the most of the day. Your dad is here now. Stay in the present.

Father’s Day reminds us what this special person has meant to our lives. As adults, we remember the care and protection he gave us as children, when he was healthy, strong, and we saw him as invincible. He may have lost some of who he was, but he is still Dad. Celebrating him on Father’s Day may feel different and may come with compromises, but it may also be the most precious Father’s Day of all.

If your loved one is struggling with serious illness, ViaQuest can help through expert care, symptom management, caregiver support, and education. ViaQuest Hospice improves quality of life for those living with advanced illnesses, including COPD, CFH, cancer, dementia, Parkinson’s, ALS, and kidney or liver disease. Learn more about how we can help your loved one live more fully. If you think it’s time to consider extra support, here are some great tips on how to have the conversation.