10 Regrets of a Young Widowed Mom

 

It’s so easy to look back on my past and see all the things I could have done differently/better.  My life has always been blessed, but it took the death of my 37 year old husband to realize how blessed my life really was.  At the time of Mitch’s accident my young children where just 1 and 3 years old and it seemed almost inconceivable that they would grow up without him in their little lives.  Through time and perspective I can look back objectively and think of all the things I would have done differently if I had been given the chance.  I’d like to share those very personal regrets with you so if you are ever faced with a similar life situation, and I hope you never are, you won’t make my mistakes.  We always think it can never happen to us, I’m living proof that it can and unfortunately it does.  Be prepared, if not for you, than for your babies.

#10 – I wish I could tell them differently about his accident

My kids were very, very young when my husband’s plane crash claimed his life.  I waited almost a complete 24 hours to tell my daughter and when I did I wrote a script to help me make it through the conversation.  Children are very literal and I’ve learned the language I chose to use that day has stayed with her all these years.  Pick your wording carefully and remember kids handle grief much differently than adults.  Children live in the moment, so allow them to have their feeling and move on into the present.  Follow their lead at all times when dealing with their grief.   Allow them to process in their own time and in their own way.

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#9 – I wish I would have given myself more credit for simply surviving the first year

I was and continue to be very critical of myself for my actions during my first year of loss.  In hindsight, I was a very highly functioning widow but you never feel like you did enough for your children.  In all honesty, my kids were well fed, safe, clothed, and even bathed more than 2x a week, so I call that a huge success.  Was I a perfect mother – NO, but I was dealing with one of life’s biggest blows and while not always pretty, we all survived and grew closer in the process.  I didn’t have the ability to always be mom of the year but I managed to keep them as happy as possible until my abilities to thrive returned.

 

#8 – I wish we had taken more trips

My late husband and I traveled extensively but with kids we slowed down because it became less convenient to do so.   I wish we had done even more with our babies.  I wish I had more memories of him at the beach with them, or hiking trails, or simply playing at the park.  Memories are priceless and you can never create enough to sustain those who miss you when you are gone.

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#7 – I wish we had lived with less

We had the big house, the nice cars, all the STUFF.  I wish we had lived with less and LIVED LIFE more.  The moment he died I realized all that stuff didn’t amount to anything of real value.  The clutter weighed me down, made me feel my loss even more, and made me feel completely alone.  Downsizing gave me the air to breath when I was stifled by the pain of loss.

 

#6 – I wish we had laughed off life’s silly stresses

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How many times do you fight with your significant other over the tooth paste lid, or who makes dinner, or the toilet seat being left up? Trust me when I say,  it’s not worth it.  All the time I wasted fighting with him over pointless drama seems like moments wasted where I could been laughing and smiling at all the joy that surrounded us.

 

 

#5 – I wish we would have spent more time playing instead of working

See #7.  Had we have lived with less we could have spent more time playing instead of working!  I remember trips where I was tied to my blackberry and my computer.  Days where I left the beach to go make do work emails.  I was never fully present in any moment, always consumed with my job instead of focusing on what really mattered.

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#4 – I wish we would have recorded his voice in a memory book

How special would it be for my kids to be able to go open one of those recordable books and hear their Daddy’s voice reading it to them.  So sorry we never did that. I’d love to see their faces as his voice read the story to them.

 

#3 – I wish we would have taken more video

We never took much video of the family and today I would give my right arm for more.  Just to let my kids see their Dad on camera with them. He was an amazing father and I wish they could see the love in his eyes and his big bear arms around them.  Kids should see their fathers affection if not first hand, at least on video.

 

#2 – I wish we would have taken more family photos

I was fat and miserable by the time we had kids and I let that personal hatred keep me from being in front of the camera much at all.  My kids could care less that mommy was not comfortable in her own skin.  I’m sure they would love to see more photos of  about mommy and daddy together. I’m sure they wouldn’t even notice our extra weight.  I’m sure they would notice the love we had for each other and for them.

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#1 – I wish he would have written our babies a note when they were born and added to it each year

I wish against wish that the moment our babies where born we would have written them both letters.  We talked about it but we never did it.  Now that Mitch is gone they will never have the chance to know through his written word, just how much he loved them – heart and soul.  Go get some paper (let them see your hand-writting) and tell them how much you would move heaven and earth to be with them, protect them, and love them forever.  <3

 

For all the things I regret not knowing or doing before my husband’s death in 2009, what I don’t regret is my decision to live a full and amazing life after his death.  I’ve promised my kids that we will live his bucket list, never miss an adventure, and laugh with all the joy and happiness we can find.   I can’t go back and change the past but I can learn from my mistakes and I can make sure live each day beautifully in the moment!

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13 thoughts on “10 Regrets of a Young Widowed Mom

  1. Hello, I am glad I found this to read. I lost my husband last year 3 weeks after the birth of our first child. We both 31. I’m coming up to the anniversary of losing him…I have struggled & I hate that my life does not have my husband in it anymore but I live for our son.

  2. Also glad I found this. I have the same regrets. I have 4 amazing children and a 7 month old who will never know what her dads voice sound like or remember the feel of his touch. Death changes our perspective on life. If only I’d known how important these things were before. You just always think you have more time and it’ll get done later.

  3. My friend recently lost her husband. They are also 37. They have 3 small (under yrs old) children. I would love to know what you needed in that first year. I want to help. I know I cant bring him back, but I am at a loss as to what to offer. I call and check up on her frequently, but I want to do more. We are in different towns, so dropping by isn’t an option, but I can certainly PLAN something. I would LOVE your suggestions.

    • I lost my 38 year-old husband when my children were 10 years-old, 8 years-old, 5 years-old, and 18 days-old. I will tell you some of the things that helped me. I realize that you don’t live in the same town, but maybe you can help organize some of these things:

      1) At the very beginning, so many people wanted to help that it was overwhelming (especially with a newborn). Finally, I tasked a group of close friends and my mother to field requests for me. I honestly didn’t have it in me to make decisions and handle details/schedules.

      2) Friends started a Go Fund Me account for my children for college. A similar account could also be used for funeral expenses or living expenses. Since the breadwinner of our family was gone, my family/friends thought to would be helpful to collect contributions to my children’s college accounts. Through the generosity of family, friends, and strangers, a large amount of money was donated to the Go Fund Me account for my children’s education. I sleep easier at night knowing my children have that money along with money we had saved for the children’s future educational needs.

      3) You could set-up a Meal Train online. We had people bringing us meals every other night for the first six months after my husband died, and it was so helpful. No only was I grieving with a baby and three other children to care for, but I wasn’t working, so the meals also helped keep my expenses lower than normal.

      4) People donated gift cards, because they knew I woukdn’t be able to return to work for awhile. Restaurants, grocery stores, gas, movies, WalMart/Target, clothing stores, movies, massages/nails/haircuts for me, and fun things for the kids. You could organize a gift card drive.

      5) A friend took my kids out to buy me small Valentine’s Day gifts for my first Valentine’s Day without my husband. My brother sent me flowers.

      6) Since my older kids were still quite young, friends babysat for me, so I could get out sometimes on my own.

      7) My sister-in-law did all the paperwork to get us filed for Social Security. Make sure your friend files for Social Security. The benefits are better than you would think.

      8) My husband had just bought a new car, and he still had some student loans to pay. My brother was able to get the car returned without me having to pay any additional money, and he was able to get my husband’s student loans forgiven. A friend could easily help with this and other paperwork.

      9) Some of my friend’s helped me clean my house on a couple of occasions. And, the members of my high school graduating class sent me money to get a cleaning lady for a couple of months.

      10) A neighborhood friend has a friend who is a child psychologist. She was able to get her friend to see me and my kids for free for a month while I was getting my kids enrolled in a children’s grief group. Her friend also saw me a few times until I got enrolled in a grief group.

      11) If your friend doesn’t work and COBRA medical insurance plan to too expensive, you can help your friend look into Medicaid or ACA options. We’re on Medicaid, and we have found great doctors and get all of our medications for free.

      12) If you can, plan a visit to see your friend. Go stay for a week or two to help with the kids and around the house. If she has family temporarily staying with her, offer to visit to give her family a break. In addition to my mom staying with me a lot at the beginning, I also had two friends and one cousin come at various times to stay.

      13) Neighborhoods dads helped me with my yard for the first year. Then, a dad from church came over and taught me and my son about lawn maintenance (grass mowing, edging, trimming, etc.).

      14) Don’t not call your friend, because you don’t know what to say. Make sure you call to check-in. In many ways, your friend won’t want you to treat her differently. In other ways, you need to recognize that she is now the ONLY parent of three small children, so everything is different. Continue to invite her to events and outings, even if they are couples’ events. Let her decide if she wants to go or not, but don’t assume that she no longer wants to do things with other couples because she’s no longer part of a couple.

      15) When you feel the time is right, if she hadn’t done so on her own, make sure she gets therapy or joins a grief group. Even if her insurance does not cover mental health services, there are plenty of free groups out there.

      I am extremely lucky to have a supportive family,
      friends, and community. I hope that your friend is equally blessed. And, it sounds like she has a terrific friend in you. Do not feel like you need to do/organize everything above. These are just many of the ways that my community helped me get back on my feet, and suggestions you can make to other friends who want to help. Your friend will get back on her feet! Having young children almost guarantees that, which I was so thankful for. She will always feel different than many of her friends who have traditional families, but a new normal will eventually set in.

      I hope the above helps!

      With love,

      Erica

      • Helpless Friend, I just realized that your comment was left in 2015! My advice won’t help much now. Maybe the moderator will just decide not to post my replies. Or, maybe my reply will help someone else who finds this page!

        • Erica, I found this VERY helpful since my daughter just lost her husband on 1/23 at the age of 33. She and my grands, 3 and 6, are trying to create a new reality and this info helps me as I help her navigate through this…..

        • Erica, your advice has helped me. I lost the love of my life a few months ago. Besides dealing with the overwhelming grief I’m trying to learn how to be a single Dad and raise our 1 year old son Jameson.

  4. I just lost my fiance, a month ago. He left behind our beautiful son Mason.
    His father was my best friend. We fought like cats and dogs but we always made it through, he never once showed any signs then one day just everything took a spin & he took his life 2 days later.. Two months before our son turned one and four months before we said “I do.”
    I have been a warrior as my peers have said, I cry only to myself and my sister. My son doesn’t really understand but he talks to him every day, he always says ohh Dada ohh which we determined ment look Dada look, I was approached by a medium four days after his death..(in a grocery store, where my fiance had bothered this gentleman until he found me to talk) and received a lot of amazing news. I was given a lot of peace.. He’s with our son every day, so when he goes to talk to Dada mommy knows dada is still with us. He visits me often telling me it’s okay to find happiness, in a way I think this was his way of being with us always without the pain of his demons. So to all you other widow mommies, its okay to smile, its okay to have regrets but always remember the good times, never forget them. I plan to tell my son all the good times. How much his father loved him. Share what pictures we have and always love again.

  5. I my name Lindsay I read this I cried my husband was in us navy we have a10 year old boy and 2 girls 5 and 6 today is Nov 12 2015 Sept 27 2012 was the worse day of my son life at 7 years old and me 25 and my girls where 2 and 3 my son found his daddy hunting in the basement 2 weeks after he left the navy my son never been the same me go. E ensuring them not easy cause it’s not the same it’s been 3 years and we miss him VA still has my son on hold they won’t help but to all mom out there if someone stays it gets easier it don’t don’t ever meet a new guy he leave it happen to a friend of mine me I have no time to go or do anything I just here to raise my children pray one day this is all a dream my son mat has pdst and stress so much more problems I just wish my son was but to him self I get no help my mom trys but she sick with cancer don’t have a big family and no one helps me they all said I help at that time they all do but don’t I don’t have anyfriends to talk to cause they just use me my life a day by day I wish I had and want to share the whole story of my husband being bully on the ship and his mom robed the viewing money off the kids she was never around I knew my husband seems we where 13 years old my mom and dad took him in want to see facebook lindsayflaherty1986@yahoo.com u see me and my son as be kids go to 2012 facebook facebook no one cares hope one day we have our own home and stuff but that’s a dream

  6. I struggle with #9 I struggle with grief and sometimes find it hard to find joy in my child’s first events/holidays because its first events/holidays without him too. He passed away unexpectedly when I was 26 weeks pregnant and it’s not fair all her first are our first without him and the emotions are so mixed. I also agree with #6 I think of the dumb fights or bickering nights when I was stubborn and didn’t want to forgive him for dumb things. Life has been so incomplete without him and with the first anniversary coming up its starting to become a bigger struggle.

  7. I lost my husband 10 months ago. He passed away suddenly due to pulmonary embolism at age 46. He had no prior health problems. It has been a very tough journey, but I too am a Functioning Widow. I function during the day and cry myself to sleep.
    My husband was always the one taking pictures, and videotaping everyone. When it came time to find picture of him for his services, it was tough. Most of the picture were of the kids and me. So, I too wish I could hear his voice again and have taken more pictures of the four of us.
    Two month before his death, we took our first weekend gateway…. alone. It had been years since we took time off together. We made a promise that weekend that we would plan our getaways at least twice a year. We loved being around our children that it was not a priority or need to be away from them. I wish we had made more plans to be alone earlier. We had a wonderful time. We reconnected in such a beautiful way that I didn’t want to come home.
    I miss him so much. My kids keep me going. They are strong, brave and resilient. I know now that we to create new memories.

    • Today is 21yrs of Memorial Day of my late husband from the cancer. We were young 43, 36 and our two children were 12 and 4 at that time… I did work very hard to raised two children. I was even so scared to have a close boyfriend, because the children were too young. Now, I am a long time widowed single mom which is 57yrs old and just starting the new challenge of life. I have to figure that where, how and whom to share the rest of life with.. Well, I don’t have an answer yet, but I have a faith that my lord will leads me to go where and how.
      Bless all the young widow single moms in the world! From newly move to Dallas, Texas.

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