Showing posts with label Father's Day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Father's Day. Show all posts

Monday, June 12, 2017

Father's Day Focus

When Father’s Day rolls around every June it’s a secret struggle for most widows and for me too. For years I’ve tried to avoid thinking about it too much. My own father, my two fathers-in-law, my husband (I’m remarried), and my son who’s now a father will all receive their due. I love them all dearly and rejoice they are in my life! But there’s one person whose absence is always on the landscape of my heart. I don’t grieve anymore, but I still miss my first husband, the father of my children. My husband, Tom, understands. He was widowed too, and Mother’s Day holds the same for him.

Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are two holidays that put a painful divide between the “haves” and the “have nots.” Those who don’t have parents, or spouses, or the opportunity to be mothers and fathers buckle up and endure the day. The “haves” gather together, telephone, or send cards and gifts to their loved ones, and well they should. Life is precious and love expresses itself through these holidays. But for those who have lost loved ones it’s complicated. If you’re one of the “haves” and one of the “have nots” at the same time the turmoil isn’t easy to describe, explain, express or resolve.

Father’s Day is hard enough for adults; how hard must it be for the children? I recently heard that many people who don’t believe in God happen to have a painful experience like the death of someone they loved in their past. My own children bear that out and my heart has broken innumerable times for them.

When I was widowed I had no guidance about my children and no widows my age to compare notes with. I didn’t know what my widow friend Myra wisely told me years later, “In saving your kids, you save yourself.” Her husband died of a massive heart attack on Christmas Eve when their two daughters were ages five and seven. Now, almost 20 years later, a close-knit family with added sons-in-law and good memories has emerged.

If you’re more like me than Myra, though, if you’ve had some parenting failures because of grief and the pressures of widowhood, remember it’s never too late to start doing right. Let’s use Father’s Day as a time to start over. Although it's a day that can really sting, ignoring it doesn’t do any good. It'll come again next year. What our children need more than two parents is one parent who loves them enough to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They don’t need a parent who holds back, passive, indecisive, or lets nature take its course. Consider parenting as a full time commitment to seeing that Christ is formed in our offspring.  The apostle Paul shows us how to do this in I Thessalonians 2:7 – 12. He described himself as gentle as a mother caring for young children and as encouraging as a father. He had a goal that his “children” would learn to live “worthy of God.” I never thought to have a goal for my children when I was widowed. Have you?

Even if your children are now adults, remember it’s not too late. Everyone needs someone watching out for them, someone who’s on their side, and has tangible and worthy goals for them. We all need to be treated gently and encouraged no matter what our age.

Looking back, I wish I had made an annual event of Father's Day. Instead of ignoring it, I could have done something with my kids. It’s a natural opportunity to get the children to talk about how they’re doing and to learn more about their father and their heritage. Acknowledging the day with a prayer will help. A small gift or a treat like their father’s favorite dessert might be good. Share some memories and funny stories. A visit with other family members or an activity that will take up the whole day, create some fresh, fun memories, and wear everyone out enough for a good night's sleep is also a good option.

Don’t try to be blind to the day or avoid talking about the person. Don’t try to compensate and make up for their absence with money or extravagant, unusual privileges. Don’t be so absorbed in your own pity that you’re unaware of how your children are feeling. Don’t think that a new husband will solve all your problems, only God can do that. Instead, make Father’s Day a time to bless your family with what would have pleased their father. 

Watch out for signs that your children are struggling. They should cry but it probably won’t be as often as you do. Younger ones might cry one minute and run out to play the next; I’ve been told that’s normal. Later on as they age they will need to talk and think about their father. Hospice or children’s services in your area might offer a “Grief Camp” day camp for children. Find out about it and consider using it. They will meet other kids whose parent has died and they’ll do helpful activities on a child’s level. It’s good for widows to know they’re not alone, and it’s good for children to meet other children and realize they’re not the only ones either.

Older children and teens who refuse to talk or cry should meet with a wise, godly person or a professional counselor regularly. I recommend about six weeks at first, and then for a few follow-up visits every year for the next few years. Interview the counsellor before you send your child and make sure you agree with their methods. Family or group counselling might be an excellent option too.

If your child or teen’s behavior changes for the worse, if their school work slips, if they seem depressed, or if they take on an angry, rebellious, or hateful attitude (even a few years after the death) you will also need to find counsel. If they won’t cooperate, then you should seek help for yourself in how to handle them. This can be a frightening journey so make sure you are also seeking God’s help first and He will lead you to the right people.

Cling to these truths: 1. Nothing is impossible with God, not even raising children alone. 2. In Christ we do not have to grieve as the world does; we have true hope, grief doesn’t have to last forever. 3. We will change even if we try not to, so let’s follow God and make it a change for the better.

Let’s make Father’s Day the day we get back to mothering.*
P.S. I'll be away from the Internet and won't be able to post anymore for the next few weeks. Please be sure to subscribe to this blog so it comes straight to your inbox and you never miss a post, OK? Also, please visit the friends in my blog roll and see what God is doing in their lives on this journey called widowhood.
* also printed in Just Plain Values magazine, June, 2017. Copyright 2017 Ferree Hardy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Key to Getting Through Father's Day

For the last two days we've received good advice, wisdom and examples from widows on getting through Father's Day this year. I've really appreciated their priceless insights and willingness to share their experiences and I know that if you follow some of their examples Father's Day will go so much better than you'd originally hoped.

Undergirding all the advice though is the plain and unspoken reality: we can plan everything out in the greatest of detail and intend to cover every nuance of emotion we might face---but in the end, only God gives peace. So let me wrap up this topic with this crucially important guidance from God's Word in Philippians 4:6-9 (NIV, italics and my paraphrase added):

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation on Father's Day, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving for the life and loves you still have, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Let's put these words into practice today.
Make a list of these things in your life, and along with your plans for Father's Day, think on these things:
What does God say is true about your life? ____________________
What are the pure gifts around you? __________________
What is lovely? __________________
What is admirable? _______________________
What is excellent? ____________________
What can you praise God for this year? ______________________

Think about these things, and notice the last phrase of the Scripture selection---the God of peace will be with you.

With love and prayers for you and yours,

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

More About Fathers Day 2014

Let's continue yesterday's conversation by hearing from a few more widows today. Please join in with your comments too!

 Jennifer: The last three years, we have been travelling out of town on Father's Day. Great for distraction and ignoring the day. This will be the first year that we'll be home for it. I don't want to go to church. I know they'll be making Father's Day gifts in my son's children's church class. I've been looking at alternatives to sitting at home, but everything that I've come up with so far would probably be super crowded. I honestly don't know what to do and I'm not real comfortable with it. Not much help, I know, but there it is. (Jennifer, honesty is the best help of all. I hope what you see here from the others will give you some good ideas and coping skills. Travelling out of town sounds like it worked well for you in the past, but being home this year for the first time is understandably a challenge. Be sensitive to the Lord and to your son, and I think you'll find it will go far better than you thought it would f ). 
 Linda: First year one daughter and I went out to lunch at her suggestion for Father's Day and remembered dad. The second one she preferred to spend alone working on a wood project with his tools that she inherited. I will leave this one coming up to her. If she wants to be with me fine - if not I will do something myself - quietly.
Nancy: I usually visit my father's and my husband's gravesites; I always remember my father-in-law with a gift, as he is still living- I purchase greeting cards that speak my heart, and display them on the mantle; I buy red roses or carnations to remember my husband.
 Joann: The first year Father's Day fell on my daughter's 22nd birthday; always had been a special connection for her. So the younger kids stayed with their older siblings and I flew out to WY to be with her. She and I went out to brunch then went to the Tetons to go hiking. She assumed she had to go to church and was so relieved when I told her it was OK to skip. 
Give your kids permission to do what they need to do. Each year I ask the kids what they want and they usually want to just stay home, keep it low key and quiet. Not sad or depressing, just simple. Eat, watch movies, cry if we want, laugh and talk if we want. Honestly it is probably the only Sunday each year that is truly a day of rest.
We've talked about going somewhere but my 18-yr-old said it is just no fun to see everyone else with their dad. My married daughter celebrates her husband and my son enjoys the company of his kids and being appreciated by them but both have their melancholy moments.
 Amanda:  We have a family day! Enjoying each other's company and remembering him. Funny stories, sad ones too. We usually go to a place to eat that he would've wanted. But the thing we've all agreed on....we skip church. Too sad and overwhelming.
 Barbara: We also skip church as it just reinforces our loss. Since my Dad died 18 months before my husband, we now have a happy tradition of going to our favorite place on the shore and enjoy a little vacation/girls time out, my daughter and I. 
 Joy: I am another one of those "church skippers". I usually take my bike and my dog and ride on one of the beautiful bike trails along the South Platte River, or I will head into the mountains for a drive, enjoying God's majestic creation. For me Father's Day is much more difficult than Mother's Day.
 Ann: My father died on June 30 (2007) and my husband on May 29 (2013). I chose to honor them and their faithfulness to God by going to Church as usual last year and plan to do the same this year. Yes it was tough but a small step forward for me in the grieving process. I need the fellowship of being with other believers.
 Lucy: I went to the cemetery with my kids the day before and left a card in a sheet protector attached to a flower basket. On Father's Day I spent it with my dad. This 2nd year I'll do the same.

A sincere Thank you to everyone who shared their Father's Day experiences and plans.
I'm sure you noticed a church-skipping majority today, so I'd better clarify. I usually encourage widows to consider church like strong medicine and to attend regularly because it will help the healing process. But each church is different in their acknowledgement of Father's Day. If yours over-emphasizes it to the point it becomes like pulling a scab off an old wound, then exercise your good judgment and wisdom, especially when children are involved. But remember this--- you need your church, and just as important is the fact that your church needs you. What I love about these ladies is that they're not skipping church, per se, they're just skipping the day. They'll be back to honor and worship God with fellow believers, and that's the biblical and important thing. ferree

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Widow's Father's Day To-Do List

Rebuilding a life . . . my blogger friend Wendy, from Us Without You and Chicagoland Young Widowed Connection, describes it so well. ferree

photo by Wendy Diez, used by permission
*Wake up--feel sorry for self and children.

*Acknowledge the conflicting feelings that will come with today.

*Decide not to go to church for the 4th year in row. The Father’s Day blessing is still too painful.

*Play with new puppy and puppy-crazed children. Imagine Chris doing the same.

*While reading Father’s Day updates on Facebook, take stock of the fact that feelings of bitterness and resentfulness have lessened since last year.

*Text words of encouragement to all widowed moms I know (a longer list than I would like).

*Play with a puppy. Feed a puppy. Potty a puppy.

*Argue with a 3-year-old who wants to wear a leotard and too-small Easter shoes to the cemetery.

*Acquiesce to 3-year-old--why deny this small pleasure to the girl who knew her father for only 10 days? Smirk at the fact that he really doesn’t care what she wears anyway.

*Play with a puppy. Feed a puppy. Potty a puppy.

*Have traditional Father’s Day graveside family picnic while trying not to feel cheated. At least we didn’t need reservations.

*Smile at a nearly 5 year old who asks, “Can I kiss daddy?” as he leans over his father’s grave marker.

*On the drive home, ponder how next year’s picnic will play out as my children expand their understanding of death.

*Play with a puppy. Feed a puppy. Potty a puppy.

*Text “Happy Father’s Day” to all the important men in our lives to let them know we appreciate them. Pat self on the back for finally doing this after several years.

*Have dinner with Papa. Chuckle at the way my children attack him with hugs and Father’s Day greetings.

*Play with a puppy. Feed a puppy. Potty a puppy.

*Consider going to church next year and embracing the Father’s Day blessing.

*Realize how empty today would feel without having known Chris’s love or the gift of raising his children.

*Cuddle with a puppy. Make a mental note that this is great therapy.

*Go to bed. Send up a quiet prayer of gratitude that I not only made it through another Father’s Day, but that I actually enjoyed some of it.