Father’s Day Sulking Without Apology
by Litsa Williams
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.
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 sadness 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 playlist. 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 sadness. 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’m 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 a perfect time for an “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 Book
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 into 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 photo story. 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 backspac.es 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.
Another prep item 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.
To read more from Litsa, visit https://whatsyourgrief.com