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 was. At the time of Mitch’s accident, my young children were just 1 and three 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 a 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, then 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.
#9 – I wish I would have given myself more credit for merely 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.
#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 breathe when the pain of loss stifled me.
#6 – I wish we had laughed off life’s silly stresses
How many times do you fight with your significant other over the toothpaste 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 unnecessary drama seems like moments lost where I could be 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 mattered.
#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 many videos 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 skin. I’m sure they would love to see more photos of about mom and dad 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 them.
#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 were 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. Get some paper (let them see your hand-writing) 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 at the moment!