This week, nine of us came together to talk about our children, solo parenting, and widowhood. We laughed, we cried, we supported each other, and we ate chocolate!
Our children ranged in age from 3 months to 16 years old. Our widowhood ranged from 5 months to 12 years.
The two hours sped by as our conversations evolved around:
Our children’s grief vs. ours and not imparting our grief feelings on them. As a parent, we know what they are missing and the significance of growing up without both parents, but as really young children they don’t know any different. My daughter only knew her family to consist of me, her brother, and herself. We need to remember that their grief is as unique as ours is.
How do we separate teenage angst vs. grief? How do we know when it is “just” a teenage moment and growing pain versus a grief burst? How do we support them when they don’t want to talk to us?
We talked about sleeping arrangements, and it was wrong for us to find comfort in having our children sleep in our beds. Everyone in the room shared that all had a child come join them in the middle of the night at some time!
Anxiety and separation. Our kids find it hard for us to leave them – even for a short time. And the frustration we feel as a parent at not having a single moment to ourselves because a child is always nearby. How do we find the patience that is constantly needed as a solo parent… especially when we are running on empty?
We shared the upset and anguish of watching our children grieve. How do we make the world a safe place again for them – especially for those who witnessed the death of their parents? The world doesn’t feel safe to us – how on earth do we make it safe for them?
And we laughed as we realized that many of us had either added a dog to our family or have considered getting one since our spouse died. Amid the chaos of welcoming a puppy into the household, were realized that the unconditional love of a dog was something that brought us peace, joy, and needed companionship.
We ended the night by making mindful jars. A simple craft of adding glitter to a water bottle. When our kids (or ourselves!) are experiencing a difficult moment or intense emotion, shake the bottle, and, as you sit still and watch the glitter settle, also try to settle your own thoughts and feelings. Repeat as needed!
For me, it was a magical night. It gives me strength and hope as I continue to watch Hummingbird’s community of widow people grow. The understanding and empathy that were present in the room were awesome. Each of us carried and supported the other in their challenges and triumphs. The depth of courage and optimism this group shares continues to astound me.
Widowed solo parents are amazing!