Dealing with the sudden loss of your spouse can be tricky, especially when you have small children. On episode 22 of By His Grace Podcast, I interviewed Cheyenne Bell about coping with the unexpected loss of her husband.
Listen to that episode By His Grace Podcast: Cheyenne Bell.
This Sunday we celebrate Father’s Day, and today Cheyenne shares some practical ways to celebrate Father’s Day with your children after your husband is gone. Please welcome Cheyenne Bell to By His Grace.
Celebrating Father’s Day When Dad’s Not There
by Cheyenne Bell
After losing my husband suddenly in October of 2017, one of the hardest truths to swallow is the knowledge that my kids will grow up without such a beloved and important figure in their lives. That burden is even more heavy on my heart as my little family came up on our first Father’s Day without their daddy. I began to dread a day that used to bring us joy as we showered my husband with love and gifts, but now, even though we still had all this love to give him, he was no longer here to receive it. I realized I had to be proactive about making Father’s Day a day of joy, despite our loss…but how?
My kids are not the only children in the world without a father to celebrate on Father’s Day. Whether a child has lost their dad through death, divorce, or abandonment, Father’s Day can be hard on many kids and their moms or guardians. I don’t believe that ignoring the day is the right answer. For me, I chose to celebrate the day by honoring my husband’s memory and his legacy of love and reminding my kids daily of what a treasure they were to him. Here are some ways that I found can help kids honor their daddies, even in their absence.
Activities Dad Would Have Loved. Take your kids out for a day filled with “daddy activities.” For us, I take my kids to a movie, or grab dinner at Chipotle, then have ice cream for a treat. Their dad would’ve loved all of these things! You don’t have to go out or spend money to engage in “daddy activities,” though. You can easily have fun at home doing things your kid’s dad would have loved: puzzles, video games, grilling, building something, cooking. Talk about their dad a lot while you do all of these things. Keep his spirit front and center throughout these fun activities!
Celebrate Other Father Figures. My children are extremely lucky to have awesome uncles (actual and designated) and two amazing grandfathers in their life. Even though they are not a replacement for their dad, these men have stepped into Daddy’s shoes with grace and strength of character. They deserve to be recognized as father figures in my kids’ lives and we will celebrate them as much as we would have celebrated Daddy on Father’s Day.
Write Letters to Dad. While my kids are not quite old enough to write a letter to Daddy yet, this is a great way for older kids to honor their absent dad. Not only will this activity give kids an opportunity to express their love for their dad, it will also give them a chance to process feelings they have been experiencing since the loss of their father. Assure your child that you will not read the letter if that is their wish, but encourage them to “speak” freely to their Dad and tell him how much he’s missed. Follow up with lots of snuggles and encouragement.
Visit Dad’s Resting Place. If your child’s father has a final resting place, Father’s Day might be a good day to visit. Bring flowers, a letter for Daddy, or just yourselves. Spend time talking about their dad and remembering him, or telling them about him if they never had the opportunity to know him themselves.
Volunteer. Father’s Day would also be a good day to give of your time and energy for those less fortunate. If your kid’s dad had a favorite charity or a cause dear to his heart, find a way to get your kids involved with that cause for the day.
Grieve Together. Despite the way you decide to honor the absent dad in your kid’s life on Father’s Day, it will likely be an emotionally trying day for you and for your kid. Allow yourself and your child to grieve freely. There is nothing wrong with allowing your child to see your sadness. In fact, it may help your kid process his own grief by watching you process yours. Give yourself and your child permission to feel the sadness of the day, but also encourage him to remember the good times as well. Grieving together will be a source of healing and comfort for you both.
Father’s Day will never be the same for our family, nor should it be. There will always be a hole where there was once an amazing, loving, gregarious, kind, thoughtful man who loved us more than his own life. As much as we wish we still had him in our lives, we know that he is rejoicing in Heaven and we will see him again someday. Until then, we will honor him and his life whenever we can, especially on Father’s Day.
Cheyenne is a writer and blogger with a slight obsession for old homes and good coffee. Cheyenne’s blog, Sense & Serendipity, focuses on inspiring others to create a home well loved and a life well lived. Cheyenne lives in Buda, Texas with her amazing children, Aislin and Hawkins.
Thank you for visiting By His Grace today! While you are here be sure to check out other By His Grace Podcast episodes that help bring hope to the struggles we face in this life.