Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Raising Children as an Only Parent

Monday, June 3, 2013
Posted By: 
Gerry Sousa

Today, we welcome guest blogger, Gerry Sousa.  Gerry was widowed in 2008 after being married to her husband, Richard, for twenty years.  She lives in the northwest suburbs with her children, Nate, 21, and Beth, 19 and is an elementary school teacher.  Thanks for your contribution, Gerry!

This is by far the toughest thing to do as a 4 ½ year member of the widowed community.  In the beginning of this journey, it weighed very heavily on my mind.  My kids were 17 and 15 at that time, 4 years ago, when everything hit the fan.  I couldn’t get my mind around it.  How was I going to do it?  What would it look like?  How would it all go down?

In the beginning, I thought I would have to ask others to step in for my late husband.  It was for little things like my son’s HS graduation.  I also wanted to ask people to actually be the sub for my late husband by me initiating the contact.  I did things like ask my brothers-in-law to talk with my son or my daughter if I saw that either one of them were struggling with some issues.  I actively searched for other male role models because I thought that was what I had to do.  That was my job, to ask for help from family and friends, to reach out and actively solicit people to serve the role that their father had been in their lives.  I wasn’t being a good mom unless I did that, right?

But I realized it was forced, and it felt forced to my kids.  Believe me; they did not hesitate to share those observations with me!   I’m proud of them that they spoke up and were honest with me.  Here I was, trying to do something, fix something, react to something, and push my agenda, whatever I thought it should be at that moment.   I wanted to say to them, no, I’m the adult, I know better.  But as they grew up, a funny thing happened.  I realized that his or her father was not coming back, and there really was no one who could replace him.  It was as easy as that, in their minds.  I soon started to accept that notion as well.

Another funny thing happened, first slowly, then purposely.  My children started to find their own way through this by reaching out and asking for advice and support from role models that I wouldn’t necessarily have predicted that they reach out to.  It was from little experiences, like my son having a quiet drink with one of his best friend’s father during a Hawks game or my daughter asking for advice from her best friend’s father about the boy she was dating.  And guess what?  I, the Master Puppeteer, didn’t direct it all.  My children are advocating for themselves, and I couldn’t be prouder of them for that life skill.  Sometimes these things happen in their own time and place.  I see that now.

As I continue on this journey, I know that these little moments are precious and these realizations take time and happen when we least expect them.  And that’s okay with me now.


Great Blog Gerry! A great reminder that our children are going through their own grief journey and we need to give them some space to find their way. We can be there to love, support & guide them but they must walk their own path just like us. Our children also learn to grieve by watching us. Loved this. Thanks for sharing.

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