Activism

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 BoJuel.com, or read his autobiography, “The Least of God’s Priorities,” available at his website and at amazon.com.

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