Dear __________: A Letter to the Person Without a Father this Father’s Day

Dear Person Without a Father this Father’s Day,

I don’t know why you’re without your father today, and you don’t have to explain it to anyone unless you want to—unless it helps. Maybe it’s serious: he’s incarcerated; he died; he disowned you for whatever reason. Maybe it’s not-so-serious: he’s hunting or fishing or kayaking or hanging out at amateur stripper night; he’s been sold to another family, on eBay (by you); he’s out of state or working. This letter and these words are for anyone “without” their father this day, without exception, so that includes you.

It’s so easy and hard (yes, it’s possible!) to be sad, and I’m not saying that’s not okay. I’m not saying you have to succeed at being anything other than sad to have no father with you today. I do encourage you to look for the father the world around you has to offer. If you’re thinking, “Oh no, that sounds vaguely to extravagantly religious” (reactions will vary), hang in there with me. Religion is cool if that’s your thing, but that’s not exactly what I mean.

I mean that fathers, for the most part, are figures of comfort and protection. For you, the absence of a father might be the absence of an every Thursday phone call. For you, the absence of a father might be the absence of a guiding hand as you grow from teenager to adult. For you, the absence of a father might actually be a good thing, though the absence itself gnaws at you no less. But you can try to look for the father in the world around you, and hold that in your heart everyday, but especially today—when the world celebrates, often without noticing you.

If fathers are comfort and protection, then maybe you can see the father in the parts of the world that bring you comfort and protection. Maybe it’s other family members or friends. Maybe it’s kids movies, whether you’re ten or thirty-five (especially if you’re thirty-five; Finding Dory, anyone?). Maybe it’s a good book. Maybe it’s the breeze on your face when you’re stargazing at night. Maybe it’s the stars themselves. Maybe the stars can be your father today.

Feeling comfort and protection in some way, even if it’s not the fatherly way you’re expecting, might be enough to get through today. And sometimes getting through any difficult experience is getting through one minute, one hour, one day at a time. Father’s Day is no different in this way. So, if you can, bask in the comfort of your best friend’s arm around your shoulder today. If you can, let the stars cover you with their protection today. Allow that comfort and protection, in it’s varying forms, to be your father.

As I wrap up this letter, I don’t want you to feel guilty if you don’t feel any better about being without your father today. If nothing else, I want you to know that as Hallmark sells their cards and golf club rentals skyrocket and families dote on their father figures and BBQs light up all over your neighborhood (along with the spontaneous fires that many “grill-savvy” men tend to cause), that I know that you’re out there today—out there without your father. I know that you’re hurting, and if only one or two of these words distracted you today, or even more so—made you feel a little better—I’m glad. I’m glad even if this letter didn’t help at all because at least I know that you know that I know you’re out there.

See what I did there, friend?

Happy Father’s Day, and may you find the father in the world today, if you can. Comfort, friend, if you can’t.


A friend

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