Welcome to Widow Wednesdays, a platform to equip, encourage and inspire widows to LEAD – Live Everyday Above Defeat.
“If my daddy was still here, what would we be?” I paused, as I attempted to find the best words to share. “We would be a family, just as we are, but with your dad here. He was a great man and a wonderful father. I’m sorry you didn’t get to have him in your life for very long.”
He looked up at me with bright eyes and said, “it’s okay. I’ve been thinking this month about him and”, he paused then said the word, “cancer”. My heart sank, “cancer is a terrible disease that I do not wish for anyone to experience”, I responded.
“Is there a cure for cancer mommy?”, he asked. “No, there isn’t a cure but there are treatments that if you find out early enough, they can help people beat cancer and live. Unfortunately, by the time we found out about your dad’s cancer, it was stage 4, the final stage which made it extremely difficult to beat even with the best treatment. That’s why it’s important to take care of yourself, to exercise, eat healthy, manage your stress and take care of your mental well-being”. “Yes, I know”, he replied.
My nearly 9 year old son Kayden, was less than 2 years old when his father passed away. He doesn’t have much memory of him and only knows what he sees in photos and what we share with him.
This past Sunday while at lunch, this was our conversation. These conversations have been many over the past 7 years but the depth of his inquiries as the years pass shows how much he’s maturing.
These conversations are never easy because the emotions come flooding in as if death occurred just yesterday and I have to manage them in order to respond without a hollering episode.
Maybe your loss is new, and the pain fresh; or maybe it’s been a few years. Truthfully, the pain never goes away, it is always present and a trigger can easily pull it to the surface a fresh.
What goes away over time is the longing to bring them back; that is replaced with an understanding and acceptance that they are no longer here. We learn to cope, our coping skills build over time and adaptation happens.
As widows with young children, our natural response may be to shield our children as a means of protecting them from the reality of their own loss. Instead we must be as truthful as possible while having probably some of the most difficult conversations imaginable.
Here are some tips for talking to children about the death of their parent/s:
- Answer questions honestly and as simply as possible. Be willing to say “I don’t know”.
- Share information a little at a time especially if children are younger. Think of it as pieces to a puzzle being assembled over time to complete the picture.
- Encourage children to ask questions and answers them as best you can and when you can. Give yourself grace. This is new for you also.
- Express your own grief and allow them to see your emotions, this allows them to know it’s okay and safe to express their feelings also.
- Recognize that it will take time, things won’t be “normal” overnight.
- Keep the memories of your spouse alive by talking about them involving the children in activities to commemorate their life.
Was this helpful? I’d love to hear from you. If there are topics related to widowhood that you’d like me to cover please contact me by direct message or email: firstname.lastname@example.org