When my late husband died eight years ago, it not only changed me, it changed the way I parent our son. 

My husband and I had always been a team. We double teamed parenting. Bounced ideas off each other. Reassured each other that we weren’t screwing it up (too much). Made decisions together.

And then Jared died.

And everything changed.

Overnight, I became a solo parent. Responsible for all of the decisions. Suddenly, it was all up to me. 

I tried not to be overprotective. I knew my son still needed to make his own mistakes. Fall down and learn to get back up. Face adversity. Figure out how to handle his failures. Celebrate his successes. 

But carrying the weight of being a solo parent was heavy.

My first priority was making sure he had the tools to handle his grief. I had him see a grief counselor, sent him to the camp for kids who lost a parent, and bought him a journal to write down his feelings. 

I quickly learned what helped me with my grief did not work for my son. Camp was not for him. And he has refused to go to any camp since. Journaling was not his thing. He does not express himself through writing. And traditional counseling did not work for him. He needed someone he could paddleboard or rock climb with and talk. Sitting in an office “sharing his feelings“ was not for him.

My next priority was trying to keep things “normal“. Ensure my son knew he was safe. That I was not going anywhere. I changed my work schedule so that I had a day off and reserved it for him. When I had to travel for work, he came with me. We still took our family vacations. I made sure he continued to follow our agreed upon rules and when broken, enforced the consequences. I did not allow his grief to be a reason for him to misbehave. 

Our idea of normal changed. It was now just the two of us. Our school routine changed and we developed a new normal. Planning vacations changed and we frequently invited my mother to join us. A desire to live, a thirst for adventure became the norm for us. 

Being a solo mom meant I was also the only one to enforce rules. I was always the disciplinarian. And at the same time I tried to teach my son that life is short, live it to the fullest. I had to find a balance between being a disciplinarian and having fun. Learn when to stand firm and when to let things go. One of the hardest parts of being a solo parent was knowing no one else was going to be the bad guy. It was all on me.

One of the hardest things was making decisions that would affect my son’s future without my late husband. Before Jared died, we had discussed many things and had a plan. One of the first decisions I had to make without my husband was whether to give my son a cell phone or not. We always said he couldn’t have a cell phone until high school but suddenly, when you are a solo mom with a small child, I wanted my child to be able to get a hold of me at any time. So I deviated from the plan Jared and I had and I purchased my son a cell phone. Another time I deviated from our plan was regarding high school. Jared and I always wanted her son to go to Catholic high school. My son really wanted to go to public school. In the end, I knew my late husband would just want our son to be happy so I agreed to let him go to public high school. And he has arrived. It was absolutely the right decision for him. But it was a decision I had to make alone. Every decision was mine to make. And I was terrified I was making the wrong one.

Being a solo mom changed how I spend time with my son. I don’t take any moment for granted. I know that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. So I get up every morning while my son is getting ready for school. Even though he’s a senior in high school and perfectly capable of doing it himself, I want to spend the time with him. Because soon he will be going to college and I will no longer have that opportunity. I do my best to attend every game, school function, event in his life. Even though he says it’s OK if you don’t come mom, I am always there. And if he asks to spend time with me, invites me somewhere, I always say yes. Always. And I’ve tried to show my son that while my career is important to me, it is not more important than him. Life is too short for regrets. And I never want to look back and think I wish I had spent more time with my child.

At the same time I teach my son that self care is vital. I try to lead by example. Take time for myself. Spend time with friends. Find that work life balance. Say no when an invitation is not good for my soul. Teach him that in order to be good for others, you first have to be good to yourself.

When my husband died, everything changed. Being a solo mom was hard. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I am proud to say my son is thriving. He is resilient. Compassionate. Smart. Athletic. He makes me proud every day.

While  I’m pretty sure I screwed some things up, definitely did not always make the best decision, I must’ve done something right. And I hope my late husband is proud.


Mark your calendars! Hope For Widows Foundation’s annual virtual event has returned on Saturday, April 2, and Sunday, April 3, 2022! Anyone can join! Whether you are a widow, widower, or a friend/family member showing support or walking in the loss of another family member, everyone is welcome to participate. The proceeds will directly support widows through the annual financial Restoring Hope and Peace Grants, Sunshine Boxes program, and Bring Hope Holiday Assistance Program. Do you have or know a business that would like to sponsor? That’s an option too! To register and frequently asked questions- please go here: widowsofhope5k.racewire.com


Carla always knew she would be a widow but didn’t have any idea how it would actually feel. When Carla met her late husband Jared, he was waiting for a lung transplant due to Cystic Fibrosis, a chronic disease affecting the lungs and pancreas. So she knew that most likely someday she would say goodbye to her husband. But she never dreamt it would be exactly one week before their 14th wedding anniversary. In August 2014, Jared was diagnosed with a rare bacterial infection in his transplanted lung and was expected to survive at least 6 months if not a year. Instead, he died just 6 weeks later. And in the blink of an eye, Carla became a solo mom to their 10-year-old son. And even though her life was forever marked before and after, she was determined to live life to the fullest because her husband would expect no less.

She founded Breathing for Jared, a Foundation to provide college scholarships to those suffering from lung disease in honor of her late husband. Became a supporter of the CF Foundation and Donate Life. And discovered that writing out her emotions and fears on her blog Transplant Wife and Widow helped her to process her grief

Carla recently remarried and is now blending a family with her new husband, bonus daughter, and son.