Lately things have been hellish for a lack of a better word. My son is feeling the effects of wanting a “real” family as he sees it played out among friends, in his community and on tv. Perhaps my own bitterness toward this often difficult single parent widow life has rubbed off on him. I have to help my son understand that we will be ok.
It certainly does not help when relatives, friends and even strangers on the train interject on how they think you should be living your life. I have had cab drivers, beauticians, nurses, relatives, and yes random folks on the train demand I get married and have kids in front of my son after I tell them I am a widow.
What made them the authority on my life? Who is going to have to love, honor and cherish said husband? Are they going to carry this pseudo baby for 9 months, go through labor, breastfeeding and sleepless nights? Can I send them a bill to care for this child for 18 years? Clearly this topic has stuck a cord and inspired the remainder of my list.
5. Respect and Acknowledge Our New Family
When we lose a spouse the way we view our family structure immediately shifts. For me I consider myself and my son to be my family and when making decisions I consider what benefits him and take it from there. Sometimes that may mean creating boundaries in an effort to do what is best for your family which brings me to my next point.
4. We Want To Celebrate The Holidays Our Way
Some of us out of respect for the rest of our family carry on with holiday traditions like Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and Christmas celebrations but the truth is we just want to stay home. It’s almost like a catch 22, we want to stay home to cherish and create more memories with our children and have a safe place to mourn if needed during the holiday. In that same vain we do see the value is spending time with extended family members as well. The option to choose would be appreciated but often times widows don’t feel their families and loved ones are sympathetic to this.
3. Stop Trying To Raise Our Kids
An odd thing happens to widows, although I know many mother’s relate to this. When you become a widow suddenly everyone knows what’s best for your child. Some adults may go as far to explaining death, heaven and hell, or moving on to your child without your permission. Others advise against grief counseling for children and tell your child how they should feel.
We want you all to stop putting your nose where it doesn’t belong. What’s best for our children is our concern alone. Single parenting is hard enough without you fudging it up thank you very much.
2. Stop Telling Us To Move On
Short of some extreme cases I doubt any widow past the one year mark hasn’t gone back to some form of her new normalcy. This will be in the form of a daily routine, hobbies and caring for the kids. Every now and then she may even manage to get out and do something she enjoys, begins to exercise or try some new things.
Through it all she often speaks of her late husband recalling memories of him. To you she is so different and since she is single your feel she is clinging on to her late husband and won’t let him go. You think this is the sole reason for her not moving on.
Well please stop bugging us about it. As widows we have completely new lives and are starting all over again. Very often that will mean a new job, house and town. With all those adjustments cut us some slack and let us breath and catch our bearings. When it comes to dating imagine starting over to find someone you love. That person is coming into the life of your child too and that is not a decision that should be taken lightly nor should it be something that happens overnight.
1. We will be widows the rest of our lives
Someone once asked me why I called myself a widow and I paused because I was perplexed. Then I took a deep breath and said because I am and truth is I will always be. After being in the widowed world and connecting with so many I am not sure people realize once you become a widow, you enter a sorority club you never leave. The reason your a widow is because you will always be a woman who has had a husband who died.
One day when a widowed woman finds love again we call that “a widow on chapter 2” . Widows never really leave their widow support groups because she still mourns her husband she lost. Often that widow will even have the support of her new husband who will accompany her and her kids to the grave or simply support them in the way they see fit.
For all these reasons be understanding and considerate of the widow you have in your life. Listen to her, ask her what she needs and think about any way you might have changed since her husband’s passing.
If you are a widow what would you add to the list?
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I am Shaniqua Garvin and I became a widow in January of 2015. I am raising my young son. It’s been quite a journey I will be on the rest of my life. If you have recently become a widowed single mother or father you are not alone. There are support groups on meetup.com, facebook and in your local community . There are fully funded playgroups, and camps for parents with young children. For those simply seeking to support a widow you can find family and friend support groups. Wishing all the best you.