Why I Observe a Day No Father Should Ever Have to Observe

About three years ago, a few former Jehovah’s Witnesses started what has turned into an annual event that we now call the Watchtower Victims Memorial Day, held on the 26th of July every year. I was one of these former JWs and I am amazed at how well this event has been received in the ex-JW community all over the world.

The Watchtower Victims Memorial Day is rather simple and at the same time very powerful. If you feel like it, you could do as thousands do and leave a card and a few flowers or another memorial at a Kingdom Hall near you. If you don’t fancy a trip down to the old Hall, you can always choose another place that makes you feel good; public parks and town squares have been used in the past.


In front of an assembly hall in Denmark, 2015.

We have also seen people getting together for picnics and barbecues with friends on this special day, while others have held signs of protest outside of Kingdom Halls. Find out what works best for you and do that. If the 26th is not a convenient day, as it falls on a Tuesday this year, do something the Sunday beforehand. Remember to take a picture or two and send them to the WVMD Facebook page so they can be shared with everyone.

Why This Day?

There are many reasons why the WVMD is important. First of all, this day really gives a voice to the voiceless without having a front figure or a leader to supposedly speak for them. The day is for everyone who lost someone they love because of the inhuman rules of the Watchtower cult.

It is a day to remember your parents and children who, for the sake of their own “salvation,” are now shunning you.

It is a day to remember people who have lost their lives because of the Watchtower’s insane policy on certain lifesaving medical treatments.

It is a day to remember all the childhoods this cult has destroyed with their demand that there should be two witnesses to any crime, including child sexual abuse.

It is a day to remember all the people who could not handle being shunned by everyone they ever knew and decided to commit suicide.

It is a day to remind yourself that you got out, and have started on your journey towards freedom.

It is a day that might bring some of us a little bit of closure, because we can make our voice heard.

It is a day to allow ourselves to think about the people whom we still love and who are trapped inside the darkness of the cult.

It is a day to mourn the living, and the loss of never being able to have children, get an education, and be able to get a satisfying job, much less a satisfying life.

Bo 2

Of course it hurts to think back on painful events from the past, but on this very day, we can do it together. We can unite across the world in memory of the people we lost and the pain we share. When we know that we are not alone, when we see all the pictures coming in from every continent, we know that we are not suffering in silence, we are not suffering alone anymore. There is great strength in knowing we are a part of something bigger than our own suffering. There is also a lot of healing in knowing that other people understand what you have been through.

When someone gets kicked out of or leaves a cult like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, their entire life is very often turned upside down and nothing is the same anymore when it comes to personal relationships, family and friends. If this happened to you, you know very well that you have no chance of telling your side of the story, you are left “hanging” and without any real possibility to explain to your friends and family why you are no longer a part of their so-called religion. Some of us have used the day to send a message to family and friends inside the cult, to let loved ones know that even if they are forced to shun us, our door will always be open to them if they ever decide to walk out of the cult.

My Own Story

I would like to take the opportunity to tell you what this day means to me personally.


How I remember my daughter. She is now 25 and a mother to two children of her own, whom I have never seen in person.

This July, I am going to lay down flowers at a local Kingdom Hall here in Denmark. I am doing it for my daughter. She was nine years old the last time I was able to give her a hug. She is 25 now, and a mother of two children whom I have never seen. I missed out on so much of her childhood, on her amazing teenage years, and on seeing her grow into the beautiful woman I know she is today. I wasn’t even invited to her wedding, much less could I walk her down the aisle. I have never even met my son-in-law.

Writing this makes my eyes fill up with tears. I love my daughter, but a sick cult tore our lives apart. I still have a small hope that one day she will wake up and leave the darkness behind. In my dreams I see her walk towards me with her two children holding her hands. I see her amazing smile and her beautiful eyes, and I see the curiosity in the faces of her two children, my grandchildren.

Then I wake up and realize that it is just my mind trying to cope with the empty space she left in my heart.

My Watchtower Victims Memorial Day is, and will always be, for the loss of my daughter.

What is your reason to make this day a special day?

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To find out more about Bo Juel’s story, visit his website at, or read his autobiography, “The Least of God’s Priorities,” available at his website and at

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14 replies »

  1. Bo Juel, Even though you are the author of a book I have not yet read — and as I would like to read, I sense your extreme pain over what that you’ve been through. Reconcile to your fate as the abandoned father who yells at a desolate place where no one either sees or hears. Never forget your daughter and your grandchildren, but move on. If you are a coath now, so you also know that there is only one way forward: self-knowledge.
    Do not isolate yourself because of ex-people that are not worth it. Valuate your true friends and keep those who care about you, but drop from now on the foolish sect that is only like a drop in the ocean in comparison to all other religions. An infinitely small fluff! Bo, remember that we only have one life.
    I lost my mother in 1954 (blood transfusion) and in-laws in 1964, and apart from a few glimpses of those silly people who changed their family out with a disgusting religious company in New York, so I wrote like you myself out of the past. It was an absolute necessity to get ahead in life!
    I have read the debate on the internet between you and another ex-JW, and of course you are right. Nobody must, of course, copy an author’s work and hand it out for free. It is unforgivable!
    Poul B., Denmark

  2. I am sorry you have went through this. I am currently going through a divorce and have been disfellowshipped from leaving an abusive relationship. All while all he done was swept under the rug and all my friends shunned me while trying to reach out for their help. Now he is trying to take custody from me and isolate my children from my family (non JW) and me. This has been a very devastating event and has made me see how corrupt this is. I was a faithful servant for over 10 years and have been punished for leaving a bad situation while he is being praised. It’s the hardest thing I have ever had to do, having to sit and watch them try to alienate me from my 7 and 10 year old who used to adore me until now.

  3. Thank u for ur words of encouragement..and prayers..I will continue to heal..i am literally praying for comfort of the last 40 years..i just wanna know him..him know my kids..and acknowledge us..say I love u..I am proud of u..give me a hug..its the little things that break my heart…its tough..

  4. My story is reverse. I did not allow My jw father now 70 years old to be part of my childrens live. 1. Because hes a fanatic 2. Because he is intolerant. 3.. Because i refused to have my daughters indoctrinated. The list goes on and on but after all I dont regret my decision. Could it had been different? Of course. Do i miss chatting with the old man? Yeah of course he used to be my friend. So thats what I mourn.

  5. I’m sorry to hear your pain. I was a Witness for 12 years of my life. I was baptized at 12 and disdellowshiped when I was 23 years old. I am now 53 years old. I’ve spent s lifetime working through the issues that plagued me as a former witness. I’ve crafted an uneasy relationship w/ the members of my family who are still JW’s. I’ve struggled with establishing maintain healthy relationships because of distinction in my own family and taught by the organization. I’m extremely glad that portion of my journey is over.

  6. Today pains me.. It’s my “fathers” B-Day.. 75th.. But I can’t even wish him a happy birthday.. It’s not allowed.. My heart is broken.. A father is supposed to be the first male relationship with his daughter.. He threw me away like I was nothing… I’m angry.. Hurt… Sad.. Some religion huh? Good job..

    • My dad did the same to me. Love based on conditions. Ive been gone 28 years from the religion but that wound never really leaves you does it? The way I see it its on them. I have a great life. Two wonderful adult children, a great career, a loving husband and home. If i had stayed i dont think i would had had any of those things (never was subservient so id probably still be single). Don’t regret the choices Ive made but my jw family was a nasty piece of work.

      • Thank you for your words.. Only we know the deep wounds and everlasting pain… Unlike u I am struggling with my existence.. I believe it has poisoned me forever..u see.. My mother is another piece of work.. No longe4 a JW.. But a victim herself of abuse and complicated love.. So my emptiness echoes on for what feels like forever.. Thoughts of suicide… Feeling rejected and alone… If it weren’t for my kids who are my world.. I probably wouldn’t be here.. But I could never done that to them… Sometimes I wanna disappear.. Hit the reset button.. But there is none.. Going through the motions wondering why I’m here.. What did I do to deserve this hellacious life.. He made me but doesn’t care enough to acknowledge me.. How can he be so cold ? I just don’t get it.. I guess I never can religion and status be more important than ur little girl?

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