At this point in my widow journey, I am incredibly lonely and grasping onto memories of my previous life. Our son, however, is four years old going on 15, I promise. He is full of energy, excitement, and joy. Lately, when I talk about his father, he stops me. He tells me that he does not want to talk about his dead father. This took me back the first time he said it to me. The parent in me tries to assess how to handle this best. I first acknowledged his request. I told him we did not have to talk about his father at that moment. He recognizes his father from pictures and he knows that he existed at some point. As a cautious parent, I brought him to a child psychiatrist and after a few sessions, it was determined that he was emotionally healthy. His reality is that his daddy is not here today and it makes him sad. The sad widow in me wants our son to know who his father was. I want him to have a connection and have knowledge of him in his memory bank. Support groups and therapy have told me that young children build their memory banks from hearing stories. So, as a parent who wants to help other single parent widows get unstuck from their loneliness (and prevent the this sadness from being projected onto their children), I would like to share four tips that I have learned as a single parent widow as it relates to grief:
Be patient. The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without getting annoyed, upset, or anxious. As much as I want to force feed my son with fun facts about his father, I know that something will come up naturally and sometimes it may be at a different time. Be patient with your child but also be patient with yourself.
Be considerate. Show careful thought and understanding. Acknowledging and validating feelings sometimes is all that is needed. As lonely and alone as I feel without my best friend, I have to also remember that my son is in a group of his own too. I was volunteering at church watching a baby, and my son asked me if the baby had a father. He was very matter of fact but it let me know of his awareness and that he does not have anyone to identify with right now.
Be present. Stay in the moment. There may be different factors to a reaction or questions. When I think about my son asking me not to talk about his dead father, at first my mind was devastated and went down the path of my son’s non-interest. The timing of my reminiscing did not work with his playing and singing. I stepped back and just understood that this was just a moment that did not work for him. Later, he was ready and began to ask questions about dad’s favorite Dr. Seuss book.
I am a gift. The truth is that his father died suddenly of a heart attack when our son was 15 months old. At that time, I had more than 15 years of memories with the man I loved and loved me. I realized that I have the opportunity to show my son the woman that my husband fell in love with. Even when we are not talking about him, through me I can share our humor, our loves and favorites, and my memories without overloading him.
“We must vote for hope, vote for life, vote for a brighter future for all of our loved ones.” - Ed Markey
Melissa PL Peoples
Melissa is in the process of rediscovering Melissa. She is in her journey of “the new normal” since her husband's sudden heart attack and now single parenting. She currently works as a certified process improvement and development expert. She taps into her professional experience and applies those tools into daily life.
Grief is a process but moving forward is an opportunity. Her hope is that in sharing her journey, that she may be able to help not only other widows but any person undergoing a transition in life. As a blog contributor for Black Women Widows Empowered, Melissa hopes to provoke thought, share ideas, encourage, and empower readers. She can be reacherd at MelissaPLPeoples.com and you can also find her on Instagram at the following handle: @melly_plp
Her personal blog coming soon!