Author: Lori Apon
God designed families to have a mom and a dad. Death, divorce, and desertion leave children without a very important person in their lives, dad. In the midst of the suffering that comes with this great loss, there can be holiness wrapped around the acceptance of God’s sovereignty. God becomes Father. And with that perspective, even in the hard, we can see this dad loss as a holy time in the lives of our children. Think about it, Almighty God, the creator of heaven and earth, steps in, and He promises to be a father to the fatherless.
While many across the country honor dads in June on Father’s Day, our family chose a different time for remembering Father’s Day. Psalm 68:5 was quoted just 24 hours before my husband died, and I really believed that God would fulfill His word. The date of your husband’s death is the day that God became Father to your children as well (the Remembrance Day).
Because of this truth, God gave our family a creative way to remember this day by leading us to consider our Remembrance Day as our new Father’s Day, replacing the traditional Father’s Day recognized by the world.
Mom, I want to encourage you to handle this day with the utmost care. There are a lot of temptations when it comes to that Remembrance Day. What are you going to do with it? You can ignore it or silently remember it yourself and not really share that with your children, especially if they’re young. You can silence it by pushing down the emotions and pretending that it’s not an important day. Or you can hide all the feelings in the closet of your heart that come with suffering, determined to avoid them at all costs.
Push into the Pain
But my suggestion to you is that you push into the pain. Take the difficult parts of that day and turn them around. Reframe these, making them an opportunity to bond with your children, opening the door for healing.
You can lead your children by letting them know that Father’s Day in June is to celebrate earthly dads, and while that is great for families who have them here, God has given them their own special day to honor their Heavenly Father! They truly have a new Father’s Day. By relocating that day and renaming it as your new Father’s Day, I found that it helped remove the string from the traditional day of honoring dads. It was a day we looked forward to, even though it was a sad and happy day, we always made it memorable.
6 Suggestions for Turning the Remembrance Day into a New Father’s Day
- Relocate the day on the calendar to the Remembrance Day (the day your husband died) renaming it as “Father’s Day.” On this day, remember dad but also focus on God as Father.
- Release yourself from attending church on the actual day. Father’s Day always falls on a Sunday, and though I always encourage moms to take their children to a Bible-believing church, that one particular Sunday I always felt that it was okay to worship at home. It was just too painful for my kids to make cards for a dad who is no longer here.
- Remember your own dad and honor him if he is still here. A greater appreciation may have developed knowing the loss your children have experienced. Their grandfather’s role will be a little more significant now that dad is gone.
- Recognize men that God has used as a vessel for his fathering. There were times that I would encourage my children to make cards for the men that God had used as mentors in their lives. We thanked God for bringing these men to our family and then we would write them a letter thanking them for being obedient and being willing to make a difference in our lives.
- Re-create the holiday, your Remembrance Day, even though you may not consider this a holiday, create an atmosphere for your family to be tuned into each other. This is what it looked like for us:
- Start the day just pondering the mystery of God as Father and opening the door for conversation about missing daddy. We started out the day with pancakes. (My husband made the best pancakes). They were like fried cupcakes. He made them in all colors, shapes, and sizes, and so rather than missing daddy pancakes, we just enjoyed remembering his specialty by making them at home or going out to Cracker Barrel or IHOP. I would encourage you to consider something like this with your children.
- End the day with a time of reflection. We went out for ice cream because at the time of my husband’s death, my children were eating ice cream cones on the curb of Chick-fil-A. Even though my children are grown, with children of their own, we find remembering a good opportunity to enjoy this treat.
- Release balloons. Children love balloons, so I would buy balloons, one black and one of “their color” (each was assigned a color at birth – it has proven to be a great way to organize things with 8 kids, and they all think that color is now their “favorite” color). For devotions that night the releasing of balloons symbolized two areas of reflection:
- Black balloons – I ask them to dig into their hearts to uncover any unforgiveness, anger, or pain that might need to be released. Tears are shed and hearts are cleansed once again.
- Colored balloons – We thank God for all the ways He has been a father to them over the last year. We offer up a sacrifice of praise thanking Him for His faithfulness. He really is a good, good Father.
6. Recount the story of God’s faithfulness with your children. It’s a beautiful time to encourage the hearts of your children towards God. And prayerfully, they will tell it to their children, and their children will tell it to their children. It’s how He designed for us to talk about His faithfulness and to celebrate what He has done.
Your Remembrance Day will always be an opportunity to remember with thanksgiving
“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise. His greatness is unsearchable, one generation shall praise Your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts. I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your Majesty and on your wonderful works. Men shall speak of the might of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. I will express the memory of your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great and loving-kindness. The Lord is good to all and His tender mercies are over all His works” (Psalms 145:3-5).