In November, we recognize the needs and losses of grieving children, with Children’s Grief Awareness Day on November 18. Today, Lori Apon, a young widow who raised her eight children as a single mom, shares how God is a Father to the fatherless.
He was only a baby. We had just celebrated his first birthday complete with his daddy’s spoken blessing,
“I sure am glad that God blessed us with you. You are a sweet, precious boy, and I love you with all my heart. I pray that God will bless you with all good things from heaven. I bless you as my son with laughter and joy. I bless you with a deep love for God. I pray that early in your life you will come to know Jesus as your Savior. I pray that God will bless you with a long life knowing and loving Jesus. I bless you with good relationships with your brothers, sisters, mommy, and daddy.”
Days later, happy turned sad with the knock of a police officer on our door, declaring that his daddy had made the choice to take his own life. Baby Micah and his seven siblings were now fatherless.
Satan comes to “steal, kill, and destroy.”
The night before this tragic event, Psalm 68:5 was quoted in the evening service where my husband, Micah’s daddy, led worship, “A defender of the widow and father to the fatherless is God in His holy habitation.” Holding my infant son in my arms with my four daughters and three other sons by my side, this truth captured my attention, what a great promise for all those kids out there who don’t have a dad!
I had no idea at the time the impact this promise would have on our family for the rest of our lives.
In that holy moment, Almighty God, Creator of the world, replaced my children’s earthly daddy. Psalm 68:5 became our anchor and script for telling my children, “You have a new daddy. Your daddy is gone, but God has promised to be your Father.”
This little boy had no way to comprehend, understand or even realize the impact of that moment. In fact, he was tucked in bed sound asleep, unaware that grief had moved in and that the course of his life had changed direction.
One year later, as his siblings discussed life without daddy around the dinner table, we learned that Micah didn’t even know what, or who, this important family member was when he blurted out an innocent question, “What is a Daddy?”
Realizing he didn’t have one of those unlocked the package of dormant grief that would take years to blossom.
His brothers and sisters found comfort in sharing stories of their dad, but for Micah memories of fun times came second-hand, as a used piece of clothing. Even though he appreciated learning about his dad through these treasured recollections, the truth was that he never knew his dad.
The facts about his sudden death were shared carefully with his older siblings, while the rest of the community prayed over the fate of a family left without due to suicide. I firmly believed the suitcase of a child’s heart could only hold so much, so I waited for the right time to share the uncomfortable details of his daddy’s tragic death. Because of this, I was caught off guard when six-year-old Micah asked how his daddy died? Oh my, did he not know the answer to this question? That evening we opened the box of grief together uncovering information no child should have to ponder.
Grief grew right along with my son—the grief of wanting to have a dad. Grief has a way of growing the realistic image of a dad into a perfect human that doesn’t exist. In Micah’s dreams, he was missing a man who would train, teach, coach, inspire, mentor, discipline and impact him into the man he would one day become. Missing his dad was as impactful as losing an arm or a leg. He would always feel the physical loss.
But even though children around the world experience loss of their dad, like Micah, they have access to God as Father. Over time, his personal focus was directed to the promise in God’s Word. In the absence of dad, he discovered that he did have a Father found in the presence of God.
Father to the fatherless
How to walk alongside your child who never knew their daddy:
- Allow the innocence of not knowing to last as long as necessary. This is God’s protection and specific plan for their life.
- Carry their grief for them in the early years.
- Help them see the big picture that God is creating.
- As you hold your little one, let God hold you.
- Know that God wrote the story of their life before the foundation of the world. While this mystery might be unsettling, trust in the mystery of God’s sovereignty.
- Share details of the bigger story by inserting what the “suitcase of their heart” can hold.
- Do not assume that your child will bypass grief because they are too young to understand. Grief will come, it cannot be stopped.
- Trust that the sting of death will come at the time in their life that is purposed by God.
- Let pain and suffering function as a chisel and not a crutch in the life of your child.
- Keep an eternal perspective. The enemy comes to “steal, kill, and destroy,” but God gives life abundant (John 10:10).
- Pray, pray, pray! God hears your cry and will answer your prayers.
- Do not stop sharing the promises of hope with your child.
Scripture Promises as Father to the Fatherless
“A Defender of the widow and father to the fatherless is God in His holy habitation” (Psalm 68:5, NKJV).
“Do not move the ancient boundary or go into the fields of the fatherless, for their Redeemer is strong; He will plead their case against you” (Proverbs 23:10, NASB).
“O Lord, You have heard the desire and the longing of the humble and oppressed; You will prepare and strengthen and direct their heart, You will cause Your ear to hear, to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may not terrify them anymore” (Psalm 10:17-18, AMPC).
“Leave your fatherless children; I will keep them alive” (Jeremiah 49:11, NIV).
“You are the helper of the fatherless” (Psalm 10:14, NIV).
“I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them” (Job 29:12, NIV).
“…for in You the fatherless find compassion” (Hosea 14:3, NIV).
Lori’s greatest desire was to be a wife and mother. The Lord blessed her marriage with eight children, while the enemy made plans to “kill, steal, and destroy.” After the suicide death of her beloved husband, she became a young widow raising fatherless children. Lori now devotes her life to ministering to women through Perspective Ministries, founded to meet the practical, emotional and spiritual needs of the widow and fatherless, equipping the church and community to do the same.
IG @Perspective Ministries