The very thing that drives me to get up every morning, is also the very thing that drives my grief into darker places. I have to get up to take care of my kids. I have to put one foot in front of the other. But the difficult times of parenting can choke the airway of my pain like nothing else.
The very thing that keeps me from feeling completely lonely is also the thing that makes me feel the most isolated. There are people in the house with me. There is noise and talking. But there is no co-parent… and no one, no matter their good intentions or willingness or close relationship, can quite fill that void. And it brings a different depth of loneliness.
Parenting as a widow/er is one of the strongest triggers because there is an innate reminder of my partner’s absence. Who is going to love your kids like you? Who knows them like your other half?
Parenting through grief brings guilt. Sometimes I’m so preoccupied with processing my own pain that finding the energy, willpower and strength to be what I know I need to be for my kids makes me feel like I’ll never be enough. I’m screwing it up. I’m screwing them up even more.
The mental exhaustion invades because there is no one to tap out to. No one to enter the ring when I am spent. Navigating my kids through grief is hard enough. Doing it alone is even harder. Doing it alone while I am processing my own, is harder still. As their behaviors change, and outbursts of anger, resentment, depression, and confusion come to the surface, I am hard pressed to have the mental energy to continue.
Although my pain is terrible, watching my kids’ pain is heart wrenching. Knowing there is nothing I can do to change it or undo it gnaws at me, making me feel helpless. I can try to guide them, but ultimately they have to carry their own burden of grief. I cannot carry it for them. They have to find their own way through the murky mess and my mother’s heart is weighed down by that incapability.
I have strange sensations to try and mimic what their dad was; to fill his void, but I can’t. I want to recreate his personality for them so they taste a little of what they’re missing. And even though I logically know I can’t be what he was, it doesn’t stop the inner drive to try. But I am a poor compensation… a poor substitution.
I have become unbalanced. There is no one there to balance the equation. When I am angry, there is no one to step in. There is no one to fill in on my short comings. There is no one to be a sounding board. There is no one to perceive what I miss. Let’s face it…. My husband would have handled them with a different type of influence, a different type of personality, a different set of discernment and judgment…than me. And now I don’t have that.
I am alone.
Parenting is the very thing that keeps me going, that gets me out of the house, that helps me plan ventures as a family to give my children new experiences to put a smile on their face.
But it is also the most profound reminder of my loss.