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A Widow's Guide to Parenting


It is hard to bear the death of a loved one; especially when that person was to be your fellow guide to parenting. The pain of losing and the increased responsibility of parenting are two things you must face at the same time as a widow. It is important for future recovery that you recognize your pain and cry your emotions out; but you must not forget that your children need positive time also (especially if they are really young ones). As a parent, you must find effective ways to cope so as to fulfill responsibilities to your children.

Be an Example of Strength

It is alright to cry in front of your kids and show emotions of grief. After all, they are also experiencing the same feelings over your family's loss. It is love of the children that pushes the grieving parent to move on and as much as possible to resolve the hurt. Your children will appreciate it if they see you as a parent work on your problems; this means acknowledging your loss and identifying ways to move on with life.

Frightened children will have no idea on how to take care of a parent who cries repetitively in front of them. Crying in front of your children too frequently will only add uncertainty and scariness to the feelings of loss that the children already have. If you want your children to heal in the best way possible, it is important for the remaining parent to help children feel safe.  One of the major concerns they will have (whether spoken or not) will be whether they will experience the loss of the remaining parent too (if so what will happen to them).

Have a Support Group

It is the best action for a widow to join a support group with members having the same problem. Single parents' group or Widows' group are good outlets of your emotions; knowing that the members understand your situation and that all of you are there to support each other will help you to identify and address your emotions. It is much better to vent out your emotions than to keep them buried and unresolved.

As a complimentary addition to your support group, visit old close friends and never be afraid to ask for comfort and support from them. You will need however, to be wary of advice givers.  People will frequently give advice when they are at a loss as to how to deal with another's feelings.  They do not understand that very often the best support comes from active listening.  Parents who have lost a spouse will benefit from others who can hear their pain without immediately trying to provide solutions.  When solutions are offered to quickly, it feels as though your feelings are being dismissed or not understood.  When this happens, you can consol yourself by recognizing that the advice givers usually mean well (they just are at a loss as to what to do to help).

Maintain an Open Line

The widowed parent will need to create a mini-support group for the children. This support group will consist of the widow and the kids. It will work to keep an open a line of understanding and caring for each other. This open line of communication allows your children to vent about how they feel about their loss. It is important that children feel safe about the expression of their feelings; especially since these feelings are very strong, scary and may not make any sense to the children or you (e.g. they may be angry at the deceased parent for abandoning them). When children feel loved even though they have "ugly" feelings, they will be better able to feel okay about themselves and experience the healing they need. It wise to encourage children to move on (when they are ready) but it is unwise to force this. Try to discover what "irrational" concerns may be lingering for them (e.g. the loss of you, or friends). Never make promises that you cannot keep; this will add to the insecurity of their world.  It is amazing how small talk can make children relax and understand the current situation.

Give Kids Freedom

Widows have the tendency to panic and dote over the condition of their kids. While this is a natural reaction for a widow, it is important to understand that letting over reacting is not beneficial for your children. Let logic take over, learn to limit the doting, and give the kids the space they need to recover.

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