The Gift

An icon illustrating a parent and child

An icon illustrating a parent and child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Child: good thing to be left with after death of spouse, or just another gut-wrenching reminder of what is lost?

Well, actually, both. But I hadn’t paused to consider it much until yesterday when I went walking with a widowed friend of mine and the question came up.

She lost her husband 25 years ago in a car accident. They’d been married less than a year and had no children.

“I wished we’d had a child, so I had something left of him,” she told me. “If your husband has to be taken from you, a child is the greatest gift they can leave.”

Which of course is true, right? An admission of anything else would be akin to child abuse and would cause any sane (or possibly non-bereaved person) to balk into their cornflakes.

But here’s the thing; I have been feeling a bit miffed with Mark of late. For leaving me with all this pain, and to cope as a single parent to boot. As a child of divorcees, unilateral parenting was not what I wanted for my daughter. Mark and I had created a happy household for god’s sake! Why did He have to go and break it up?

Totally irrational, I know, but there it is. Grief’s such a bitch, it makes you start resenting someone who had no choice in the matter of their death.

And whilst I love my daughter more than anything in the world, she does pose a problem. She looks like Him. She asks questions about Him. She reminds me every day that I am a lone parent and that He has gone.

She is indeed a gift. But one I wish we could have shared.

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14 thoughts on “The Gift

  1. Iv, e just read your blog for the first time as someone told me about it im finding it hard to put into words what I think of it because I enjoyed it so much and it doe, snt seem right to say you ve enjoyed listening to someones grief, I love the way you, vr written it because my husband died a year and 18 months ago and you, ve mentioned all the things im going through how I don, t want to bore people with my grief so I pretend I, m okay , I actually have days when I think I, m feeling fairly happy then days when I feel so bitter and twisted I scare myself but then I remember thebottle of red vino in the pantry and look forward to the time to open it , im so sorry you were both so young you should have had many many years together , I actually met you today you were with heather getting your instructions onwalking milo I was the old blonde with the scruffy dog called rupert would love to meet up some time we have another mutual friend rachell mum of jasmine and lizzy very best wishes norma x

    • HI Norma – wow, thanks so much for reading and for writing, I had no idea about your situation. I’m so glad the blog is resonating with you. This is an isolated place to be, widowhood, so its good to meet kindred spirits. Thanks for commenting, I hope we can catch up soon. (By the way, less of the ‘old’ blonde!) We should walk the dogs one day. Love XX

  2. Lost my wife May 9, my youngest son was exactly 10 months old (also have a 11 and 22 year old) (yeah we were on the decade plan). Family and friends has constantly told me they are a gift from her, but like you I love them more than anything, they also bring me great sadness, of all things we will never get to do as a family.

    • Hi Andrew, thanks so much for reading and commenting. May 9 is so recent. I wonder how you are doing? I don’t think people understand the double-edged sword that children represent in this situation. They are a constant reminder of the fact that two are now one. How are they coping? My daughter talks about Mark sporadically but I anticipate that will change as time goes on. Sending strength to you. X

      • Guess I am doing OK. Just one day at a time. My Oldest doesn’t talk much about it but my Middle son constantly brings up things we had done as a family and when will we do them with Gabe.

  3. Uh oh lovely dear fiend…read back within your blog sometime ago..I thought I was able to paint the beauty of the portrait that your daughter represents…how she remains a perfect whole consisting of half of each of you and Mark…let me know if it still seems sensible after you find it…I am curious…
    HUGS! CJ

    • I know which one you’re talking about now you mention it. I guess that is how this blog is so valuable. It offers me an insight into where I was, am and could be. Thank you for pointing it out!!!! (And fiend is good actually. I’m happy with that! 😉 )

  4. LOL! OOPs! I cannot type worth beans! Terrible typo caught JUST AFTER pressing ‘post comment’ my dear FRIEND not ‘fiend’…yikes! That’s it, I am leaving the typing to the Mouse in the future…cj

  5. I don’t have kids and I can’t imagine how hard it must be trying to deal with their grief as well as your own. I struggle to sort myself out, so huge plaudits to you and everyone else who has to cope with kids at this time too, particularly as they can be so direct about death. My lovely teenage nephews are the most comfortable of any of my family talking about G (my mum on the other hand tries to change the subject any time I mention him). It’s good that they can do it, just sad that they have to. Hugs to you and your daughter xx

    • Thanks lovely. Kids have such a directness, such a lack of any awareness of taboo, it is refreshing. It is hard to field questions from her, but she does talk about him which is more than anyone else does!! Love to you. X

  6. I have just discovered you and your thoughts. My husband died 13 months ago and I have two children, aged 13 and 11. A double edged sword is such a good way of describing it. I am constantly reminded of everything they have to do without him, everything they have achieved in the past year and will achieve that they will never be able to share with him. As my daughetr said last week, ” It’s horrible having to say daddy used to do that …” I seem to have forgotten how to be just their mum . The fun side of me never appears nowadays, I’m too busy being mum and dad all rolled into one.

    • Hi there and thanks for reading and commenting. Good to hear another kindred spirit out there. Really interested in your comment about forgetting how to be just their mum. It’s true, I’d not looked at it like that before. I make all the decisions now. Mum and Dad rolled into one. Mark has been denied the most important role of his life and all the pleasures and milestones that go with it.
      Your kids will also have many memories of their dad, which must be very hard for them. My daughter was only three when mark died and consequently will have few memories of him. This is tragic too – but in a different way.
      You say your fun side never appears, which I relate to, but I hope you get a laugh, every now and again.
      Thanks again for reading and being out there in the ether. X

  7. My husband died 3 years ago in November leaving me to raise our 3 children, 15, 7, and 1. As irrational as it may seem I completely identify with the feelings of anger and resentment toward my late husband. The parenting challenges never subside and few understand the struggle. I persevere each day but it is not easy.

    • Hi Val. So sorry for your loss. Being plunged into single parenthood as well as widowhood is a double whammy, isn’t it? I find myself feeling resentful when I see dads enjoying their kids. It all seems so terribly unfair. Sending you hugs. X

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