Monday, November 14, 2011

Dealing With the Mother of All Milestones: My Grief...It Is A-Changin'....

So, I feel like there is plenty of gloom and doom on widow blogs and, usually, as milestones approach, I’m one of those widows who’s gloomin’ and doomin’.

But not this year.

I always think it’s important to write about the things that we’re all trying to overcome because it usually makes at least one person out there sigh with relief and think, “Thank God it’s not just me.”

But as milestones approach, I know that some widows out there read these blogs with a little apprehension because they’re only a year out and the person writing is 10 years out, still talking about how hard Mondays are because that’s the day of the week her husband died.  And it worries the “newbies” because they’re still just trying to remember to put on deodorant in the morning and they live in fear that they'll still be that way in a decade.

I’ve never hidden the fact that my husband’s birthday is usually the hardest day of the year for me.  I have been known to go completely crazy, cry, yell, wallow, break up with perfectly nice people, and generally go around the bend for a good month before it happens.  November 19th is right before the holidays get into full swing and usually by the time it’s done…I am in no mood for eating turkey, being thankful, or yuletiding a few weeks later.

Last year was more of the same.  I dreaded it, feared it, and generally just wanted it to go away.  I have spent the last 4 of my husband’s birthdays, creating a “Daddy Day” for my kids, taking them out of school for a day of junk food and frivolous activities…with a trip to the cemetery up in the mountains where he’s buried thrown in for good measure.  Of anything I have done, trying to raise my kids in theWiddahood…this is what I’m most proud of.  Daddy’s birthday is nothing to dread (for them) and something to look forward to.  Sure, they don’t have a dad like everyone else…but everyone else doesn’t get to have a Daddy Day.

So for one day out of the year…we can one-up the rest of the “normal” world.

I usually spend the day holding back tears and trying to curb my crankiness while they run around on a sugar high and thank God for a Dad who gets them out of school one day out of the year.

But this year has been different.

It’s the 5th birthday he’s been gone…and I don’t feel all of the crankiness.  I’m not feeling the usual build up.  It may be hard that day…but I can honestly say that I feel pretty good right now.  What has been most interesting to me this year is that I now know that my kids really do understand the significance of that day.  Before I was trying to do so many things to distract them while also trying to commemorate the day (we do all of the things their dad enjoyed doing) and I really didn’t think they completely understood what it all meant.

Silly, Mom.  We’re getting older and we’re not as clueless as we might seem.

My son has a birthday party on Saturday in the middle of the day.  And at one point, he really considered not going.

“Am I going to miss Daddy Day?”  He asked.

“No,” I said.  “We’ll just go get pizza, let our balloons go, and maybe go to the movies that night when the party is done.  The girls and I won’t do anything without you.”

“But what about going to the mountains?”  He asked, looking concerned.

“Oh sweetie, we won’t have time to do that on Saturday since the party is in the middle of the day.”

Long pause.

“Do you want to go on Sunday?”  I asked.


I was pretty damn proud of us all that moment.  That I had created a day that we can spend together doing something as a family…my husband would have loved that.  And that, 4 years later, beyond the pizza, the bowling, the movies, or whatever else we might do…that the most important thing about Daddy Day to his 7-year-old son is that we go and visit him…even if it means missing out on a birthday party.

On my husband’s 39th birthday, our 5th without him…I can honestly say that life is good.

That the kids are thriving.

That every time one of them accidentally lets a balloon go when we leave Red Robin…there are no tears because it means it’s going to Dad.

That even though he died when they were just babies…they seem determined that he will never be forgotten.


  1. What a great idea...daddy day. Thank you for sharing, I think I will start doing this too. We have only had one birthday so far and I know we went to the cemetery but I don't even remember what else we did. My kids are older than yours but I would be happy if we spent the day together as a family and I think my husband would be happy too.

  2. I also want to add that I just reread your post and really focused on the part where you wrote that after 5 years "life is good". I guess I missed that the first time. Wow, I am so far from there. I can't imagine ever saying that again but I hope I will. Thanks again for giving me hope.

  3. Thanks for this. Thanks for acknowledging the very real fears I've had as a "newbie" about what may lie ahead of me. I had to stop my participation on a widow/widower bulletin board after a few months on it because of this fear - among some other reasons - when I read posts by people who were years out who were still struggling so hard to move forward with their lives, or had pretty much decided that there was no moving forward, that this was how hard life was always going to be, that somehow they were being truly loyal to their dead partners by continuing to suffer so terribly. My husband died in June 2010 and I'm still finding it hard to keep going, but if I thought it was always going to be this hard, I can't imagine I'd see a point to trying at all. I have managed to get to a point where I know I want to be happier. I haven't figured out how to get there, but I'm working on it. You provide hope and inspiration that it might happen. Thank you.