Stages of Grief and Single Parenting
It has been nearly seven months since Simon’s passing. Looking back, I have definitely experienced four out of the five stages of grief – denial, bargaining, anger, and acceptance. What’s hitting now is the last stage: depression and sadness. By God’s mercy, I’m not experiencing a clinical or incapacitating depression. But it feels like a dark cloud is temporarily stationed over my head and I’m battling for those rays of light to come through. Being a single parent has really set in and it’s hard and it’s sad. Parenting was designed to be the most successful with two parents, if not an entire community, invested in the well being of the children. Raising our three kids was a shared effort, with some duties clearly defined as mine or his and other duties accomplished together. Much of the outside help has tapered off. Most of my friends are consumed with the needs of their own families, understandably. My folks are in the process of moving across town and busy with all that entails. Yet life has to press on for my little family in this broken world.
Simon traveled the last four out of five years for his work, which I now see as a blessing. It prepared me to parent independently. When he was home, I relished in the luxury of having that extra set of hands. But I learned how to do it all without him. The bedtime routines, morning rituals, homework, school events, and discipline. We were all happier and calmer when he was home. Now, we’re working on finding that sweet spot in his absence. We don’t have a day on the calendar to look forward to when he’ll be home again, like we did when he traveled for work. It’s a relentless cycle with little relief. I’m exhausted but not ungrateful. Many single parents in this world have it so much harder than I ever will. I count my blessings daily, especially the obvious ones, like my three healthy, vibrant kids. When I start to question God about taking Simon so soon, I try to flip the ingratitude and thank Him that Simon got 34 years of life, and that I was gifted with 10 of those years. Simon and I got everything we ever wanted in this life, it was just not the timing we expected.
Being in this stage is necessary but I’m committing to a daily, conscious effort to be thankful and to shift this frame of mind.
Today, I’m thankful that two out of three kids slept in their own beds last night because four (plus a dog) in a queen has been a tight squeeze.
Today, I’m thankful that my dad unexpectedly knocked on my door and took the kids to school for me. This was especially appreciated because it was time to leave and I was still in my PJ’s. Those who know me know I will NOT leave the house without being properly dressed. We were facing three tardies on my account if Papa hadn’t come to the rescue.
Today, I’m thankful that the only thing I physically need at this moment is toothpaste. And CVS emailed me a $3 coupon for my birthday. And I have an additional manufacturer coupon. And I got a toothpaste coupon at the magic little coupon printer in-store. So this girl got two tubes of fancy toothpaste for $2.
Today, I’m thankful for the man I’m dating. He is a man of great character who is walking alongside me in this journey. This relationship is unfolding in God’s perfect timing. I’m thankful for the outstanding counseling we are receiving and that we continue to show each other grace under our unique circumstances. I am thankful for the respect he shows toward Simon’s legacy.
Today, I am thankful for brunch with a dear friend and Simon’s co-worker. This friend bought Blue Bell ice cream for us from four states away and stored it for two days on the rails. I am, of course, thankful for the ice cream, but more thankful for the gesture and the heart of the person that brought it.
Today, I am thankful for another day. It’s spectacularly beautiful outside and I’m going to go chase those rays of light.