Reminders of love

I was sorting through Christmas decorations this weekend, purging a bit because we’ve got too much. I came across both of these treasures that I haven’t seen in a few years because they were buried in Santa hats and ribbons. One is a note that was on a present for my husband the first Christmas after we moved to Seattle. He was having a hard time finding his way around, getting lost all the time, so the family and I got him a GPS for his car. He loved it. The note says, “We don’t know what we’d do if we ever lost you.” That was our last Christmas with him.

The second is a note Steven wrote to me 15 years ago at Christmas time, telling me how much he loved me and how Christmas was so wonderful now with our two girls. He told me I was amazing and beautiful and a great mom, and he told me how much he was looking forward to us watching our daughters grow up. He signed it “Your husband, Steve” as he always signed notes to me, which always made me smile.

I remember the first time I came across this letter in my decoration boxes. It brought me to my knees. Now I keep both of them in my Christmas bins so that I can pull out and sit with those memories each year. Sometimes they make me sad but usually they make me smile and feel warm because I’m so grateful for the love and the life we shared. I adore the ways in which he still manages to stay so present in our lives and the ways he reminds me that I am so worthy of love. ❤️

Grief, Dead Dads, and Children

It’s SO MUCH! The poor damn KIDS. I would give anything to change places with my children, especially when it first happened. Anything to take that pain away

It’s SO MUCH! The poor damn KIDS. I would give anything to change places with my children, especially when it first happened. Anything to take that pain away. And it’s pain that stays with them – FOREVER. And, they get the pleasure of re-grieving the loss – FOREVER and CONSTANTLY. Sorry for all the caps but damn, this pain and trauma that children go through with the death of a parent is so big, so powerful, so life-altering. I don’t think it’s given enough attention.

Our losses, as adults, as widows and widowers, are also huge and I’d never minimize it. My girls and I suffered the same loss and yet very different losses. I lost my partner, my husband, my co-parent, my lover, my helper, my friend, my love. My girls lost their DAD. Their dad. At ages 4 and 6. And one at age “negative 9 months”. They have very few clear memories of him. He’s not been there for ANYTHING for years. No soccer games cheering them on, no kudos for good grades on tests, no celebrating huge accomplishments, no singing happy birthday, no accompanying to doctor visits or surgeries. No visiting him at work, no take your daughter to work day. No dad teaching you how to drive, no dad to help you buy your first car and teach you how to pump gas. Looking forward, no dad at graduations of any kind, no dad walking you down the aisle, no dad turning into a grandpa.

And every damn time your kids experience each one of these things that their dad is not there for, they re-grieve the loss. As they get older, they re-grieve the loss.

The side effects of grief are many and they are profound for children. Fear, anxiety, attachment issues, distrust, depression, learning issues, substance abuse. These issues do not effect every person that is grieving but it’s impossible to escape unscathed.

Don’t discount what children and adult children of deceased parents endure. Love helps the most of course. Love and affection. The ability to talk about what you are feeling, the knowledge that whatever you’re feeling is OK. The support felt from your tribe and being with others that have experienced similar loss. The men that step up to the plate and want to be there for your kids in a way only a man can. These children are strong and brave. They become the most amazing adults and parents. They have bigger hearts than most and often enough empathy to fill an ocean. These kids have been to hell and walked thru the fire. Scarred and different, but they are walking tall thru this life as best they can. Let’s not forget that and not forget to give them props for simply walking around upright. They are survivors of the highest order.

Pink – “Who Knew”