Archive of ‘Children and Grief’ category

Then, I Changed My Mind

By Michelle Miller

The  rules to Strip Darts are as follows:

Objective: Orgasms

  1. Strip Darts must only be played on Naked Friday while the kids are away at their grandparents house
  2. Strip Darts must be played with music. The music selection will alternate between Player 1 and Player 2’s iTunes playlist
  3. No show tunes as Player 1 has stated that they, “Kill the mood”
  4. Cocktails can be present, though not required
  5. Player 2 is in charge of temperature control as she is more sensitive to her climate
  6. The first player to throw a dart is determined by who wins the staring contest (Staring contest: P1 and P2 look into each others eyes until one of them caves and kisses the other. The one who kisses first, plays darts second)
  7. First Player throws 3 darts
  8. If Player misses dart board, they must remove an article of clothing
  9. If Player hits the inner circle, they remove an article of clothing off the opposing player’s body
  10. If Player hits a bullseye, they get to name a sexual favor to be performed

If you get nothing else out of my books, blogs, podcasts, or social media ramblings, I need you to get this: When I was married, I was good, and fun, and adventurous at sex. Now, I just lay there face down in a pillow hoping my boyfriend-of-the-week can’t hear me crying about my dead husband.

I was a good wife.  

I was a good wife. 

I was a good wife. 

I kept chanting this to myself last weekend as I stared at the dart board in our former garage. It was time to sell the house. I hadn’t lived in it in years. The kids and I moved to San Diego nine months after his suicide and never looked back. We moved with such haste, that as I wandered the barren house we once lived in, I kept finding things I left behind.

Pool Toys

A Broom

A stereo

A single red dart

A single red dart standing proudly in the center of the makeshift dart board after all this time.

I couldn’t believe that the renters had never touched the dart. That means the last person to touch the dart was him. Or maybe it was me. I miss both of those humans equally, I thought as I pulled the dart from its position on the board.

I wandered the house four times last weekend….or was it five?…trying to figure out something. Something I couldn’t identify. Did I need to cry? Did I need closure? Did I need to light everything on fire? Did I need to lay where our bed once was? I don’t know.

I took the kids to the house twice. My teenage daughter took a picture off the wall of a werewolf she had drawn that her dad kept in the garage. She also took a picture of a Zombie. Three years ago, when I read his suicide note for third time, I remember that I had envisioned him writing it in the garage while glancing up every so often to see these pictures his daughter had made for him. My son, he wanted the intercom system. I had taken only the dart, but still I felt restless. What did I need to say goodbye?

Every particle of that house had its good memories and its bad. The meals, the Happy Birthday songs, the sex, the wall painting, and dishwasher fixing. How many other women had he brought here? He only told me about one, but his computer spoke of others.

How many nail polished hands had touched the counters that I cleaned?

How many high heels had walked on the floors that I had mopped?

Did they like the way my house was decorated?

Did they look at the pictures of my children on our walls?

Seven years I had spent in that house working to make it ours. Working to make the air warm, and light, and sanitary. And then he and his shotgun and his whores took my work and shit on it. They had turned the air….MY AIR…. in to cold, and darkness, and filth.

As I closed the French doors that lead out to our patio and turned the lock for the last time, the blinds fell from the window and came crashing down at my feet. I reached down to retrieve them, to put them back up and make this place look presentable.

Then, I changed my mind.

“I don’t give a shit. I don’t live here anymore” I said aloud. My son laughed.

©Copyright 2017 Michelle Miller

Missing You on Father’s Day

By Christina Saunders

As I sit here I think about all of the Father Day’s that have passed by without you. There are so many things that I wish I could do with you but I can only dream. How I wish I could just spend the day with you. How I would love for the kids and I to take you out to dinner. I imagine seeing your smile or hearing your voice. There is so much I want to say to you. But I am thankful for the people who work hard to keep his memory alive.

I can recall a time when I was grocery shopping with my youngest daughter and ran into a friend of my father’s. The man was following me down the aisle of the store and I was beginning to get paranoid. I was thinking to myself why is this dude following us? Finally he approached me and asked, “who is your father?” I then told him Chris Ushry and he began to cry. I didn’t know what to say or do. I looked in his eyes and I could see the pain he was feeling. Right now I can’t even remember his name because I was so emotional watching him. He said, “your father was a great man and I miss him dearly.” I could feel my eyes flooding with tears. He then began to share how in school he was the outcast and my dad was his only true friend. How my father always took up for him and wouldn’t allow others to taunt him. He then said, “your dad was a gentle giant but others knew not to mess with him.” He wanted me to know that my father had a heart of gold. No he wasn’t perfect but he was a man of great character. Then he shared with me how when his family turned their back on him because of trouble that my father was right there to help him. He ended the conversation with letting me know that my father loved me more than anything this earth had to offer him. I cried the whole time he talked and as he walked away.

I shared that story to say this it’s stories like these that help me through the rough times. When I am missing my father like I am right now I can always think back to these stories. Knowing that he touched so many people and that he loved me makes me smile. Although I can’t see his face or hear his voice I can smile knowing that he was a loving man. It’s been 37 years since he left this earth and I still love hearing stories about my father. I now share those same stories with my children in order to give them a sense of who he was as a man. My mother made a album for me which was destroyed during a flood. I was devastated but some loving family members have offered to give me photos to make another one. I can never share the pain you feel as a widow but I can share the pain of a child. As a child I use to make cards on different holidays and put in my daddy box. This was therapy for me and it allowed me to feel close to my father. Now that I am older I make a bouquet of flowers and put on his grave. I sit there for a while and just share with him all that has happened in my life this past year. Some say I should stop doing that but I will never stop having that time unless my health keeps me from doing it. So tomorrow I will spend part of my time talking with dad as I do every year.

As I close out I want to say for those with children hold them tight as tomorrow may be hard for them. And in holding them prayerfully it will give you comfort as well. Try to surround yourself with love ones that can help you to make it through tomorrow. Peace and Blessings to you all.

The Battlefields and Victories in the Ugliness

By Wendy Simpson

To be honest the words are not flowing as I wanted today.  I am in a battle. I see casualties strewn across this vast field of grief.  My knees worn from praying for peace and my armor is dented from so many blows to the heart. Today my standing looks more like laying flat on the floor, huddled in the mud and wondering if the sun will come out.

We widows have many battles in this journey, and as many victories if we look at even the small steps we take each day.  Though I struggle with words today I am feeing compelled to write through this battle and hope you don’t mind joining me on the front.  It could get ugly, but I pray its victories are like a light cutting through the darkness.

There’s not one of us untouched by battle.  We all have them and we all receive terribly painful wounds and wear deep scars. The widow’s battle fronts are vast and many.  You and I often walk the battlefield with careful steps, wanting our strength to be what others see… not our weakness.  So… we put on our armor each morning and pray we have the strength to be super heroes to our kids, super women to our friends and sisters.  But in our heart, we feel like small children wishing someone would be our super hero instead. Though we are never alone, we sure do feel that we are on these devastatingly painful battlefields.

Here we are, armed to the gills, sword raised and knees knocking…. facing down the darkest night and all manner of pain in our primary loss as well as our many secondary losses. I hope you don’t mind this walking tour of my battlefront.

My front today…. being single mama. I walk a fine line between what is grief and what must be parented as I always did.  I have come to this conclusion… is it something they were characterized by before their dad’s passing, then I must handle as such.  Or is it new behavior?  Then I handle with extra care. Is it hurting them or others, then handle it as I once did.  Or is it crying out in the depth of loss? Then I must be tender and make healthy boundaries.  Sigh… such a hard battlefield.  It often seems as if they are the enemy, as they come at you in hatred and anger, in defiance and disrespect and in words that are sharp as a sword’s well- sharpened blade.  This mama stands fully armed, at first I took the hits as I felt they needed to express their grief, it was so powerfully deep. As my sword took another hit and my armor was becoming so heavy, I sat on my bathroom floor, locked in, crying out to the God I have come to lean upon.  As a temper’s storm raged in a room above me, I sat and reached out to a widow sister and asked for her prayers.  Today… there is a shift in strategy.  This warrior mama needed a fellow warrior widow sister to point out the hits were not necessary, the undue wounding was not healthy and their manner of expression was plain wrong.  I now stand on the edge of this battlefield looking out across the vast expanse, wondering at the outcome.  We all do I suppose, wonder where these many steps and all the battles will take us.

As a mama, I am here to tell you the victories may be invisible, but they are there.  Look at one minute at a time.  I took a stand today.  That is a victory.  I can love my girls and be firm even in their grief and it’s not wrong.  My love for them is without question, so much so I would take the blows when I shouldn’t have.  I stepped out and made this battle less private.  A victory in itself.  I invited you to look in to the rawest place I currently have… to walk with and help and even battle with, at times, grieving rebellious children. Another victory, as I am usually so very inward and private in such things.  Though their grief is lashing out it’s ok to stand and say “enough.”  I listened to wise counsel.  These are my victories on the battle field.  I didn’t want you to just think I’d bring you here to observe the ugliness of widowhood parenting battles.  I wanted to also share the victories.  I battled this morning as I sat at the computer to write and share here.  I wasn’t sure if a battlefield was the place to take you all.  But as I came to my knees last night in the greatest battle for my sweet girls yet, I felt God standing behind me.  And when I looked into my child’s eyes it was as if I saw her anger back off. She wasn’t looking at me, but God in me.  I had to share.  In my weakness God was my strength.  It is my belief that God promises to fight our battles, collect and treasure our tears, be our husband and our children’s Father.  He is proving that to me on this battlefield. There was peace and and perspective as I sat upon the cold bathroom tiles.  I stood and one day my sweet girl will see through the fog of her unhealthy battle strategies.

I wanted to share by way of encouragement.  You’re not alone. You are strongest in the weakness you take to God.  Don’t stop looking for victory.

5 Reasons Why I Will Not Remove His Pictures If I Remarry

By Sabra Robinson

Hearing something a hundred times isn’t better than seeing it once – Chinese proverb.

It’s been five years since my husband passed away but honestly, it still feels like five days.

It still feels like I’m still sitting in the front row of the funeral home staring intensely at his handsome made-up face which beautifully neglected his lupus scars and bald spots.

It still feels like I’m at the hospital the night before he received his wings, laughing away at corny jokes, eating chicken and sipping down the strawberry jello.

It still feels like the day in the bedroom when he realized the severity of his illness and cried in my arms like I’ve never seen a man cry.

But most of all, it still feels like the day we both apologized to one another for the wrongs we’ve done and vowed to forgive and forget.

But it’s not.

Today is a different day.

Today is a just another day of living, and I have vowed to keep his memory alive in plain view. And by doing so, I’ve vowed to never remove his pictures from my home, no matter what, no matter who asks, no matter if I remarry, which led me to write 5 reasons why I will never take them down.

1) For Me

A picture is worth a thousand words. This Chinese proverb (some versions vary) exemplifies so much truth for me and I’m sure for many others. Each picture, including the frame, presents a unique memory for me, like the picture of he and I on the Spirit of Baltimore cruise where I showed off my favorite white shirt or the one of he and my dad toasting champagne at my wedding.

I need to see his pictures. I’m a visual person; I always have been because hearing something a hundred times isn’t better than seeing it once.

2) For the Children

I attempted to remove his pictures about three years into my widowhood because I just couldn’t bear the grief and depression. I didn’t want him to see me emotionally unbalanced. But that lasted two seconds because my kids quickly shamed me. I vowed never to remove them again.

3) For the Resilience in me

Staring at his face on a daily basis reminded me of how far I’ve come since 2012. Recently, I found a stack of photos that I had finally removed from the poster board that was displayed at his funeral. My sister, my sister-in-law, and sons rummaged through many photo albums to find just the right photos to showcase for that day. The photos helped to captivate the very essence of who he was. I knew that the appearance of normalcy if only for that one day, was necessary for others to see; at least for the sake of the kids. But it soon ended shortly after the calls, texts, and visits. Today, I can honestly say that my grief is no longer held hostage; healing helped launch my resilience.

4) For the In-Laws

The pictures will always be a gentle reminder to his family that he will never be forgotten.

5) For My Future Husband (If I decide to remarry)

Some may view this as a selfish act towards my future husband. It’s not because if he should receive his wings before I receive mine, he would be honored the same way. I would only hope he would do the same.

It’s not like I’m stuck in a time-warp – I’m not.

It’s not like I haven’t dated – I have.

It’s all about celebrating his memory no matter what phase I am in life.

If I decide to remarry, I pray that my new husband is able to withstand his memory with me, too – that he can also relate to how deep the depths of grief can reach, go away, then come back again.

I pray that he understands that I may sometimes recall the good times, not comparing the two, but simply and respectfully embracing the unexpected flashbacks that so easily may make its way into my thoughts.

I pray that he also understands that a tear may shed here and there and he will understand.

I pray that he will understand that grief is a part of life and it will never end, that it will recede over time, and that a portion of it needs to be memorialized somehow.

But the truth of the matter is, there will always be that one memory that will still feel like it happened just yesterday.

This is my story and I’m sticking to it.

Cremation Jewelry, Cow Licks, and Curse Words

By Michelle Miller

Sometimes, I miss my sanity.

My nostalgia for it usually happens when the clock in my bedroom changes from midnight to 12:01am, and I am forced to accept that I am officially in the pits of insomnia. Again. It is around that time that I start thinking about Sam; you know, from Sleepless in Seattle? I never fully understood him or this movie until I too became widowed. If my widowhood were a movie, it would be called Sleepless in San Diego….or it would be called Grief-Sex and the City….but that’s an entirely different blog altogether.

Sleeplessness. Ugh.

Insanity. Double ugh.

Grief-sex. Yes please.

Sanity. Oh how I miss thee! I miss catching a cold and not automatically assuming I am dying of cancer. I miss filling my head with the kids’ weekly schedules instead of eulogies for my friends and family.  I miss the days when my biggest parenting dilemma was teaching the kids how to do their own laundry, instead of teaching them how to spot the warning signs of depression and suicide, because I know now that they are genetically predisposed to this disease, and I can’t un-know that.

I miss my sanity.

My son Garrett recently misplaced the cremation necklace he got from my in-laws a few years ago…… The fact that the words, “cremation necklace” are even in my vocabulary really pisses me off…..I miss the days when my son asked me to spend $65 on a nerf gun.  As a mother, you can always say no to a $65 Nerf gun. You cannot however, say no to a $65 piece of jewelry that encases the ash of your son’s father.

YOU JUST CANT.

So I ordered him a replacement cremation necklace and it arrived at our doorstep at 7:35 this morning. My son insisted that we fill it right then and there so he could wear it to school.

I miss the mornings where my biggest problem with my son was getting his cow lick to stay down.

A cow lick is nothing compared to a small plastic funnel being clogged with what I can only assume is a bone fragment from my husband’s body. After breaking two wooden tooth picks and defiling a pair of scissors with my husband’s remains, I was beginning to panic. The clock was ticking and I had to get my son out the door for school with a cremation necklace around his neck. I HAD TO!!

Only you widows with children will fully understand my drive to accomplish this task, and how guilt about our kids’ dead parent drives absolutely every single action, thought, and feeling of every second of every day.

After ten minutes of battling with my husband’s bone fragment, I had convinced myself that my son’s emotional well-being depended upon me forcing that damn bone fragment into that ridiculously small tube that was feeding into an even smaller opening of a cremation remains capsule.

I grabbed yet another toothpick. I jammed, and I swiveled, and I pricked that stupid bone fragment with the same enthusiasm I once had for Pinterest back in my married days. As the clock inched closer and closer to the school bell ringing, I stabbed, jabbed and crammed that little wooden stick into that funnel with all of my widow might!!!!

And then it happened.

I took one last giant strike into that God-forsaken funnel hole and yelled out at my husband in frustration, “Stop being so damn stubborn John!” And with that statement, the plastic funnel went one direction and the small cross necklace went in the other. The ashes went all over my leggings.  Garrett and I started laughing.

Sometimes, I do not miss my sanity at all.

©Copyright 2017 Michelle Miller

A Letter to My Father

By Christina Saunders

I have battled with losing my father since the age of 6. At 43 I finally worked up enough courage to share how losing him infected my life. I want to share a letter that I wrote him once I finished writing my book ” A Little Girl Broken.” I spent my life just going through the motions not realizing that the root went back to losing my daddy and not dealing with it. Not having him placed this void in my life and it was slowing killing me inside. Now understand this I am not over his death but I am able to navigate through life and live a happy and healthy life. And writing this letter was a way for me to finally move on and know that I am okay. As a child I always thought is he thinking about me? I wonder what he would say if he was here? I encourage others to write a letter/letters to their father and share where they are in this moment.

Daddy’s Little Girl

Dear Daddy,

There have been so many times that I wished you were here with me. So much that I missed out on  you showing me in this life. So much that you have missed out on seeing as I grew into a woman. As a little girl I never thought that one day you would be gone. I thought my daddy would always be there. I know that you didn’t want to leave me that was not the plan but here we are. No amount of words can express the pain that it caused me in this life. The words that you were gone and would never come back still has a sting to it right now today.

I didn’t have you here to show me how a man should love me. Honestly that missing relationship caused me to not understand how to have a relationship with God. I was so disconnected from feelings of love that I was stuck looking for it. I didn’t understand that I had value because it wasn’t something that I was taught. So I searched for that thing that I was missing in other men. That thing called LOVE left a big void inside of me. Not realizing that the void was getting larger every time I gave myself to someone who couldn’t love me the way I needed or deserved.

But this is what I want you to know that God sent a wonderful man to show me how a father should love his daughter. He lovely placed me into his hands to grow me. Not just in the area of fatherly love but in all areas of my life. He taught me so much in my time with him and his family. He showed me how to be in relationship with God. That was the most important lesson he could have ever taught me. The result of that was me learning how to love myself and let go of the hurt from the past. I’m thankful to you for giving me life. Please know that I am okay because I am finally walking in healing. I love and miss you daily.

Your loving daughter,

Angel

A Widow’s Reflection on Social Media Violence and Grieving the Loss of a Stranger

By Sabra Robinson

What cannot be said, will be wept – Sappho

Note: This blog is transparent about the emotional effects of witnessing a death on social media as a result of black market organ trafficking. My condolences are extended to the families of those killed online or by suicide by way of live or post video recordings. The opinions expressed in this blog are mine alone so please read at your own risk.

*******

You’ve seen them, you know, those violent and horrible videos of violence on Facebook; the ones that have several thousand likes, shares and comments and are not taken down until it’s too late.

I give myself a pat on the back for ignoring videos that display horrific crimes and suicides across the world. Nonetheless, one or two may come across my newsfeed that’s already set in motion and it meets the eye. Hence, the purpose of this blog.

I watched a video about two weeks ago that disturbed me horribly, so much so that it had me in tears. According to the caption, a young lady was lured unknowingly by the promise of a new job – a new life. Her journey was paid for in full but upon arrival, her dreams became a nightmare. She became a statistic out of the thousands of girls lured for the sake of trafficking, whether for sex, labor or for unintentional organ trafficking of human body parts. This lure was for the latter.

Why did I watch the video?

-I saw a young girl seemingly the same age as my daughter in an awkward place
-The start of the video intrigued me
-I was curious

There was no gore, no blood, no screams. She died a horrible death in a remote area electrified by the presence of her killers; she was their prized catch of the moment.

The video showed enough for me to realize that her death was unexpected, and she didn’t see it coming. My emotions got the best of me; I was infuriated that it was not removed sooner. I was infuriated that it was allowed to be shared over and over again. I was infuriated that Facebook had not yet removed this sadistic attack on a young life which accumulated thousands of comments tagging others to see.

Then I thought of her family and the other families of those whose deaths had not made it to social media. I thought about how the families may have provided a farewell party, anticipating their safe arrival and even much so, anticipating their portion of earnings to be remitted back to the household. But for this particular young woman, I asked myself, do they even realize she’s missing?

As a widow, what do you do when you’re faced with an assembly of emotions that you would normally reserve for those private grieving periods for your husband? You’ve already expressed your loss to a point which you’ve vowed to never weep like that again, but then this happens; a death is publicized publicly for the world to see.

I get that death happens and life continues on. But you try your best to move on and you can’t because you’re grieving the gruesome death of someone you don’t know, which makes it even more difficult (at least for me).

You can’t console them
You can’t touch them
You most certainly can’t help them

They’re alive one minute and the next they’re gone – permanently.

Depending on your beliefs, grief conditions us to prime the body for a burial or cremation of the loved one but in cases like this, it’s impossible because there is no body, there’s no visitation to view the body, there’s no funeral, no burial, no rites nor a procession.

How would you cope?
How do you cope?
How did I cope?

Since viewing the recording, I’ve changed how I allow my mind to receive and act on problematic online viewings:

I became aware of my surroundings, my social media, and email advertisements
I will be selective about what posts will flood my newsfeed and report violent videos and graphics if they somehow come through
I researched this horrific trend to see what I could do to help
I intend to speak to my therapist about it
I prayed for her family
I informed my daughter
I cried.
I wrote about it!

The video really shook my spirit. I kept reflecting on the young girl’s face of how innocent she appeared before her death. One moment she was alive and the next, she had her wings.

It could have been my child.

A few days after I reported the video, Mark Zuckerberg posted his plans to combat violent recordings and pictures posted on Facebook (I doubt if my reporting it was the cause of the post). Nevertheless, it brought a smile to face and gladness in my heart because it was acknowledged by a major social media company who vowed to do something.

I’m hoping that this young lady’s family and the families of the thousands of other men, women, and children can at least rest a little better in knowing that many of us care and we’re trying our hardest to do something about it, too.

My sincere condolences and prayers are extended to the family and I pray that justice is served swiftly to the murderers, deceivers, liars and cowards behind the cameras.

*****

Resources:

What You Need to Know About Human Organ Trafficking. 

Body Snatchers: Organ harvesting For Profit: Kidneys and other organs are selling to the highest bidder on the black market. 

The alarming number of children killed for black market organ trade

Raid on Illegal Body Part Selling Operation in Chicago, Warned In Hidden Colors 3

After Murders, Rapes Shown, Facebook Will Hire 3,000 to Check Videos

Feel free to visit more of Sabra’s writings at BlackWomenWidowsEmpowered.com

Does the Pain Ever End??

By Christina Saunders

I was watching this show and the father was dying, of course he didn’t tell the kids. They only found out when he passed out on the beach and was rushed to the hospital. As I watched this little boy fighting back his tears my began to over take me. At first I’m thinking why are you crying with your grown 43 year old self? Then I thought why can’t I cry? Sure it’s a movie but I know the pain to well. I was no longer 43 in that moment but I was 6 all over again. That little girl who was trying to hide how much pain she was really in. That same little girl that everyone overlooked. That same little girl who couldn’t understand why her father had to be killed. Oh how I hate that gut wrenching feeling that just brings me to tears every single time.

Then I think do people ever tell you the truth? They say things like I promise you it will get better with time. And what you want to say is come here and let me punch you in the face for saying something so stupid. I don’t think it gets better with time. I think in time you learn how to maneuver through life without letting the grief consume you. I wish there was a road map with how to grow up dealing with the loss of your father. There are times that I still wish someone would hold me and say it will be okay. But will it really ever be okay? I think the thing that aggravated me the most is that people who had never walked in my shoes were telling me how I should feel. They had the nerve to tell me when I should stop feeling sad about not having my father. Or that sadly I wasn’t the first to grow up without a father. Well you know what my father didn’t make a choice not to be there. So why don’t I have a right to be sad. He was taken from me. Not only was I sad but I was angry as well.

Often I have to remind myself that it’s okay to feel the way I feel. That is the one thing I want all children to know is that it’s okay to be sad or angry. There isn’t a soul here on earth who should tell them how to feel. Yes, another can assist us on working through our emotions but don’t try to force us to be alright with the loss of a father!!

Mommy Can We Talk?

By Christina Saunders

As an adult I sit and think back to my childhood, I realized that we didn’t talk much. Well we didn’t talk about the things that would soon infect my life. Most importantly we didn’t really talk about the sudden death of my father. At the age of 6 it is hard to truly understand what death really meant. The one thing that I knew was that my father was gone never to return. Even though my mother was married to another man she was truly devastated. I can recall how she would cry at times or when I would ask about my father the look on her face as if someone was stabbing her in the heart. But most of the time as a child I missed her pain because I was drowning in my own pain. How could I get pass the pain when I couldn’t share how hurt I really was? I often wanted to know was anyone thinking about me? That thought haunted me for the greater part of my life.

See the way I was raised was to just keep things to yourself. If you were hurt get over it and move on. The one thing that I still hate to hear is that time heals all wounds. Who was the fool that came up with this saying?? Time did not heal my wound because even to this day it still hurts but I have learned to deal with it. What would have helped me to move forward a little better would have been the chance to share my heart with my mother or my grandmother. I would have felt a release if I could have shared just how angry I was. I was MAD AS HELL!!! I can recall a family member saying well you didn’t really know your father like that. Well guess what I knew that I had a father and he was gone. I also knew that all my friends had their father’s and I longed to have that in my life. People can be ignorant when it comes to death this is why I wished I could have been open about how I was suffering. I had an argument in school one time and this child told me, “that’s why your daddy is dead!” I punched the boy in the face and I didn’t want to stop. I was so angry as a kid. I never really shared with my family how the loss of my father was pushing me over the edge. How could they look at me everyday and not ask if I was okay? Did anyone ever think that there was a  war raging on the inside of me? Had we been open and honest with one another about how my father’s death was bothering me some things would have been different for me. A child should never have to walk around holding all of that pain on the inside. Now there were times that I couldn’t bring myself to talk to my mother because of the pain I saw on her face.

I wanted t know all about my father. Was he kind, what he liked to eat, what were some of the things he like to do? Was I in any way like him? How was he as a father in his short time with me? Did we spend a lot of time together? How did others view him as a man? What were some of his dreams? Why didn’t the relationship work? Just so many questions and I never felt like I could go to my mom with them. I wanted to share this with you because I will never know the pain that you are experiencing as the widow but I do know the pain of the child. It is hard for us to watch you suffer as mom trying to navigate your way through but it is also hard for us. Sometimes we don’t know what to say or if we should say anything at all as not to upset you. But just know that as children there are so many things that we would love to talk about when it comes to our fathers. Not all children will be ready to talk but it is always nice to know that the door is open.

 

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Daddy Did Something Called ‘Suicide’…and Other Things I Told My Children

By Michelle Miller

***DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or therapist of any kind. Deciding what you tell your children about suicide and/or the death of their parent is entirely up to you. What you decide to tell or not tell them is about knowing who they are and what they can and cannot handle based on their unique personality. The night my husband killed himself, I called our marriage counselor and discussed with him the best way to tell my children what had happened. The following blog is about the conversation I had with my kids (to the best of my memory), and is being posted with the intent to help others, not to judge what methods anyone else has used in regards to their children’s grief process.

The transcript of the conversation I had with my kids about John’s death is being shared with the permission of my children (now 10 and 14 years old). Certain parts that they found too personal have been left out, but the majority of the full conversation I had with them has remained intact. It is their desire to help other kids who have lost a parent to suicide feel less alone in their experience.

I believe talking to children about the death of a parent should never be a one-time conversation. I believe it should be a series of discussions that take place throughout their lifetime, and the following blog post was the first of those conversations.

 

THE “S” WORD

I remember when I thought the most uncomfortable conversation I’d have with my children was about sex; turns out, I was wrong. My husband John’s suicide in 2014 obliterated my fear of the sex talk; actually, his suicide pretty much obliterated everything in my life……and all of the things around my life.

And outside of my life.

And inside of my body, heart, and soul.

Ah suicide aftermath! The horrible gift that keeps on giving.

What I will not be discussing today, is the emotional environment that existed the morning I had to break the awful news to my kids. I am still (almost three years later) unable to put into words what it is and what it means to tell your kids what suicide is and that their father has just done it.

***shutter***

What I will be discussing today is the plain facts of what was said, and why I chose to tell my kids the truth. I know it is uncharacteristic of my writing, but I will be keeping humor and emotion out of it for now.

WHY I CHOSE TO TELL THEM THE TRUTH

I want all of you to know why I decided to tell my kids the truth about John’s suicide in the first place. I mean, I could’ve spared them the trauma of suicide aftermath and told him he accidentally shot himself during target practice, right?

Wrong. For our family, this would’ve been the wrong choice.

What I know about my son (who was seven years old at the time) is that he is curious, and what I know about my daughter (who was eleven at the time) is that she is highly intuitive, which is why there was no way in hell I could’ve lied to them about their father’s suicide. Not only was the term “self-inflicted” going to be on his death certificate (that they would be able to have access to one day should they ever want it), but I also knew that they would be able to tell that I was hiding something from them.

I feel like in general, we as a society tend to minimize not only the intelligence of children, but the deeply profound spiritual connection they have to their parents.

Kids know. 

Kids know more than we think, so I believe that we might as well tell them. My six years of working with elementary and middle school special needs students in addition to parenting my own, has assured me of this fact.

KIDS KNOW.

I feel like lying to my children would’ve invalidated their inner voices. It would’ve invalidated the thing whispering to them, “there’s something more to this story….” and as their mother, I’ve always believed it is one of my many jobs to teach them to not only listen to their inner voices, but to also trust those inner voices.

I felt completely confident telling them the facts about what had happened in short, easy to understand sentences. I told them a few facts that morning and answered any questions they had, while restraining (by some miracle) tears or panic in my voice.

Shock is a gift and it’s what made me able to tell my kids what had happened without having my emotions usurp their own.

 

WHAT I TOLD THEM

Setting: In their bedroom at my parent’s house, early Monday morning.

Me: We need to talk. Last night while you were sleeping, daddy died.

They: (hysterical cries)

Me: (physically comforting them without saying a word)

They: How did he die?

Me: His brain was sick. 

They: We saw him yesterday and he didn’t seem sick. 

Me: Brain sickness can be hard for other people to see. I think he hid it from us so we didn’t worry.

They: Did he just fall down and then you took him to the hospital?

Me: No. He died out in the middle of the desert. 

They: How did you know he died?

Me: He knew he was going to die, so he sent me a text message and then I called him and talked to him for a little bit before he died while Papa called 911, but by the time they found daddy, he was already dead. 

They: How did he know he was going to die? Did his brain just start hurting?

Me: Daddy did something called ‘suicide.’ His brain was so sick that it told him he shouldn’t be alive anymore. His brain told him to take a gun out to the desert and to shoot himself.

They: He shot himself?!

Me: Yes. But it wasn’t him shooting himself, it was his sick brain. If your heart stops working, you have a heart attack. If your lungs stop working you can’t breathe and you die. If your brain stops working it controls your thoughts, and your thoughts tell you that you should be dead so you do whatever you can to make yourself die.

They: (more hysterical cries)

Me: There is going to be a lot happening this week. There is already family in the living room and more people might want to come by to see us. You guys can do and say and feel whatever you want. If you don’t want people here, I’ll tell them to leave. If you want your friends here and you just want to stay in your room that’s okay too. Nothing you do will get you in to trouble except for maybe if you burn the house down (slight laughter and ease of tension). You don’t have to go to school this week unless you want to. You might hear people using phrases like, “passed away, funeral, casket, suicide, cremation” and other things that sound confusing. If you want to know what they mean, just ask me. If you have any other questions about what happened, just ask me. You will see a lot of adults cry. This might feel scary for you but it’s going to be okay. A sad thing happened and it’s okay for everyone to be sad and cry. 

*****

And just like that, their innocence was taken.

So many parents miss this. They wake up one morning to find that their children no longer exist in the realm of childhood, and they wonder when and how it happened. I got to witness the beginning of my children’s transformation into the heaviness of adulthood. They had responsibility now. They would have to learn to heal themselves. This is something I cannot do for them; this is something that cannot be taught.

I don’t remember if it was seconds or minutes, but that morning, in the presence of that unique kind of light that happens when it is still night time, but also morning, I watched my kids sleep. I watched and I savored their last moments as children before I had to teach them the one universal truth about life: that it is not fair. Dad’s die.

There will never be a greater privilege in my life than watching the last moments of their childhood.

And even with all of the darkness that took place after this, even after all of the screams and tears and coldness inside of my body that I still can’t seem to shake, this memory of them sleeping warms me.

Well, so much for me not getting emotional! I still held up on my promise to not use humor in this post though so I am half way winning!

Even after writing this, I still can’t believe this actually happened. Furthermore, I still can’t believe I have been given the gift of a forum and an audience to speak about these things on and to! Thank you all who continue to read my ramblings and commiserate with me through this train wreck called, widowhood.

© Copyright2017 Michelle Miller

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