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Posted September 11 , 2013

Widow with Kids

The Challenges of “Only-Parent Parenting” after the death of your spouse

TORONTO - Grief is all consuming — it affects every aspect of your life and is completely exhausting. The stress that is experienced by the surviving spouse is twofold. The first is the emotional devastation experienced by the death of a spouse. The second is the practical hardship that comes as a result of the loss.

"The worries we take on as widowed parents include having to take on new roles and responsibilities that were once the function of the other spouse and the responsibility of raising children as an only-parent, all the while helping those children grieve the death of their parent," says Marny Williams-Balodis, a widowed parent and co-founder of The Hummingbird Centre for Hope.

Marny, along with other widowed spouses, will be one of the speakers at Widows’ Wellness Day on October 26, 2013, a full-day forum designed to help widowed people move forward after loss and build a new roadmap for their lives. Workshops at the event cover varying topics related to widowhood, including: physical effects, emotional trauma, financial stress and social adjustment.

Marny was just 30 when her husband lost his battle with cancer, leaving her to parent their two children, both under the age of 4, on her own. "There were no instruction books on how to grieve, let alone how to grieve while supporting our children during this difficult time," Marny recalls.

Here are some of the challenges widowed parents face:

1. You are the only parent

· only one to make decisions, discipline, etc.

· there is no down time from only-parent parenting

2. Their grief journey does not match yours and each of your children has their own unique journey

· their grief changes over time as they age and their developmental understanding changes

3. Your children keep you in your grief

· when you are having a good day, they aren’t and vice versa

· when their grief bubbles, it affects yours

· each significant event in their life (grad, recitals, birthdays, holidays, etc) sparks memories of your spouse

4. You must take on the role of the other parent

· i.e.: women must do typical "fatherly tasks" and vice versa

5. You put your child’s grief and well-being before your own.

· every decision and choice made is based on what is best for your children

· more often than not, this delays the parent’s grief journey because they are so focused on their children

Widows’ Wellness Day is a full-day forum designed to help widowed people move forward after loss and build a new roadmap for their lives. Wellness workshops cover a variety of topics from the physical and emotional, to financial and social adjustment offer loss. An international line-up of speakers includes New York City-based grief recovery expert Audrey Pellicano, Kelly Peterson, wife of the late jazz great Oscar Peterson and Dr. Bill Webster, an author and grief counselor. Being held Saturday, October 26th at the Islington Golf Club in west Toronto, Widows’ Wellness Day includes workshops, materials, and an elegant lunch for widows and widowers. Bring a friend or come alone – you’ll be among friends the moment you arrive.

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