Many people have actually said to my face that it must be “easy” not having an ex-husband or ex-wife to deal with because they are both dead. These people feel it must be so much nicer for Matt and I to deal with, just having the two of us. Well… not really.
Yes, flip flopping between parents houses, child support drama, hard feelings between the ex’s, rules applying at one home and not the other, is a yucky mess and I know from comforting friends who have experienced this that it’s very emotionally draining–and hard on their marriages. However, when a child’s parent is deceased there is never the option to experience any of that or anything in the future. Our children will never have the opportunity of going to their mom or dad’s house on the weekends, for the summer, overnight, or ever. Not just in their childhood but their entire life.
There are many issues in a home where a child has lost a parent and it’s hard to explain to someone on the outside who thinks a replacement parent is the best or “easier” for a marriage and family life. Our home happens to have EIGHT children who have lost a parent and it’s manifested differently with each child, creating 8 different issues. These issues may not seem as hard as a divorced situation but I can tell you it’s not easy by any means.
I can recall a time in the early months of our blended family where I knew dealing with these 8 children was going to be something no one would understand unless they have experienced our life:
One morning I woke up with body aches and felt a little sluggish and by the end of the day I had a fever. I spent that night throwing up a couple times and felt wiped out by morning. I couldn’t leave the bed the next morning because I was just too weak and felt awful. So I stayed in bed all day. Matt took care of the kids while I tried to sleep off the sickness. By the next night, 48 hours later, I realized I hadn’t spent any time with the kids, I hadn’t tucked them in for two nights now, and Matt was the one running the house. In any home this situation would be hard to deal with but in a home where children have lost a parent to sickness it’s different.
That second night, Matt brought the kids into my room to say hello and visit me for a minute before bed. This is when I’ll never forget the look on their faces. The kids looked nervous, worried, their eyes looked at the ground instead of me, they were concerned about just how sick I was and if I would be okay. I spotted fear in their eyes and I quickly knew I had to muster up as much strength as I could to tell them I was feeling ‘so much better’ and it was just a little cold. I had to tell them how strong my body was, how tough I was, and that by tomorrow I would be just fine! I had to overly reassure them that I wasn’t going to die.
These children, for 2 days, had been worried about losing another mother. Something as small as a little cold/flu turned into an emotionally draining event. No child should have to worry about a parent leaving their life forever over a simple cold but this is our reality. These children have learned that if you get sick, you might die, and that hurts.
The fallout from my little sickness was: one child having incontinence, another asking me where I was all around the house, another following me wherever I went…for days, another asking repeatedly “are you better mom?”, and another child who needed extra cuddles. Meanwhile, I still felt sick and was not quite 100% yet. But you better believe I acted like the picture-perfect-strong-healthy-mother they needed me to be.
Now I am not saying that children from a divorced home do not have emotional issues like children who have suffered the loss of a parent but let’s just say this isn’t exactly easy. I know many who struggle with ex’s and wish they never had to deal with them but death brings such finality that is life changing and just as difficult. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone!
I’ve had divorced friends tell me how lucky I am that I don’t have to deal with sharing holidays and summers and custody arrangements and this is just as hurtful to hear. My children will never get to have their father wrap his arms around them and say Merry Christmas like he always did.
What I wouldn’t give for all of my children to have their parent if only just for one day a year!
How is our families situation easier or better? We all want what’s best for our children and for them to be happy even in the worst circumstance.
May I kindly suggest that we each lift one another and know that we all need support and love and that it takes a village to raise these children. Wishing you had someone else’s circumstances may not be better and let’s not forget: The grass isn’t always greener on the other side!