Friday, November 6, 2009

the hardest part

As a widow with young children, the worst thing about parenting now is NOT watching fathers whirl their delighted little girls around in the air or push their little boys on the swings. It is NOT arriving to your child's dance recital alone and wishing that someone was there to experience the joy and pride with you. It is NOT that you are now the only one to remember the day of your little one's birth or what their first word was. It is NOT the strange and uncomfortable silence when your child announces to the check-out clerk that "daddy is dead". No, the worst thing about being a widowed parent is that you can't fix that their other parent is gone....forever.
All parents want to fix their children's injuries, soften their disappointments, explain any misunderstandings and replace what is broken. But no matter how hard I've tried, I cannot bring him back. I can't make it better. I cannot take the pain away.
Nineteen months since my husband, Jeff, died and our seven year old daughter still cries for him often. I can often tell when it's coming. When missing him has overwhelmed her. She becomes angry and combative. She screams and yells at any small injustice, whether it be her three year old brother adding his own embellishments to her drawings, my requests that she keeps her fingers from my nostrils (she is a true pest - like Jeff was).
When the crash comes, she sobs. Her little shoulders shaking as she asks me for the millionth time why he died. She rages at the way things are and screams that 'it's not fair'. I feel helpless. I want to soothe her little heart. I want to offer some remedy for grief, a magical elixir.
Last week, she asked me if Jeff and I really did have Santa's phone number. I was confused by the change of direction in our tear-filled conversation. I misunderstood. I thought she was tired and just saddened by the world in general and had a desire for some toy. But no. Our little Bean wanted Santa's phone number because Santa "knows everything" and Santa would know Heaven's phone number. She wanted to talk to her daddy.
That night, I tucked her into our bed, with his shirt swaddled around her little body, the necklace containing some of Jeff's ashes clutched in her hand and a hotwater bottle nestled into her back. She fell asleep with tears on her I did - not just for the loss of Jeff, but for the sadness that my little ones bear.
What I have learned in these last nineteen months is that the best, and really, the only thing I can do for her is to be here. To let her lean on me. To hold her hand. To bring her tissues and hot water bottles. To hold her on my lap and listen as she cries. To assure her that we will smile again and that I will be here whenever she needs me.


  1. You are so right! This is the hardest part of all. When I do my final "check" of the boys before I go to bed, long after I've tucked them in for the night, and find then snuggling tightly with their Daddy bear (a teddy bear I bought each of them not long after Austin died so they could hug him at night as they often cuddled their Dad as they fell asleep) tears often roll down my face for all that they have lost. And that is the hardest part. I can bear my loss, as heart breaking and overwhelming as it is. But their loss often brings me to my knees. Thank you for identifying it so eloquently. And thanks for the hot water bottle idea. I'm going to use it tonight! Hugs to you all.

  2. Wow...that hit home.

  3. This is so true! The hardest thing is seeing my children hurt and missing their daddy.

  4. This is very hard. My daughter is 3 now, 2 when her daddy died. Eight months after his death, she still walks around asking, "Where did my daddy go? My daddy died. Oh..." She is always drawing things and saving things for her daddy. She thinks he is coming back. It is heartwrenching. She started preschool this week and I think of how proud her father would have been and she knows it, too. She brings home her schoolwork and art and says she is going to show her daddy. She saves gum and candy for him. It is very, very tough.

  5. My daughter is 42, and misses her daddy so much....but for you who have youngsters, I can only imagine the hurt and sadness this brings to you...I hurt for my daughter too, and all I can do is listen and hold her as she remembers her loving, funny, and doting father and grandfather....and the tears flow as we heal together.

  6. My husband committed suicide 3 months ago. My youngest son now thinks I will disappear at anytime. When I go to work, he hugs me and says over and over "I love you, Mom. I love you, Mom." Then hugs and kisses me some more. This is repeated several times as though his demonstrations of love are strong enough to perhaps prevent me from suddenly disappearing also.

    This is SO heartbreaking! It stinks!!!!!!

  7. My sons dad died 3 years ago when he was 12, suddenly in a car accident. (We were divorced) It was late at night when I "got the call"... I remember spending time in my sons bedroom that night watching him sleep ...knowing when he woke up his life would be forever changed. And you are so right. Nothing is more heartbreaking than not being able to make it better. That's what moms do ....