Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

When Daddy Isn't Even a Memory

Monday, January 18, 2016
Posted By: 

Last week, I sat on my bed with my kids, ages 7 and 8, as they clung to me and cried about daddy dying. It was a hard, ugly, loud cry that as a parent compels you to want to do anything to take away the pain and fix the problem. But this is sadly a problem I cannot resolve. Not now. Not ever. The brutal truth is that their daddy will always be dead and they will never remember him as their father.

It has been 7 years since Chris died and since they were literally babies when it happened, they don’t remember him at all. In the beginning, this was a blessing for me. I only had to manage my own grief. I always wondered how I would have made it through those first few years if I had to also help them through the process. The reality now though is that we live in this strange grief time warp. While time decreases the intensity of my pain, it increases theirs. For each new developmental stage they experience, new understanding of death accompanies it. They go through the loss a little bit at a time over and over again. There is little I can do beyond hugging them, reassuring them that they will be alright and sharing pieces of Chris with them.

It is bittersweet to watch them enjoy a success or experience something new for the first time and know that it could bring on a grief episode because daddy wasn’t there. It is challenging to try to remember every detail of my life with him so that I can share it when they want to know our love story. It is mentally exhausting to try to remember his favorite color or book or T.V. show when they randomly ask. Trying to piece together his life for them so that they have more than a one-dimensional picture of his existence is a huge responsibility. I could never do it alone and thankfully family and friends continue to fill in the gaps.

I pray each day that I do Chris’s memory justice. I share videos of him with them, point out how each of them reminds me of him in their own way, give them pieces of his clothing to sleep in and other belongings to help them feel close to him, do his favorite things with them on special days like his birthday, tell them stories when something reminds me of him, and tell them how proud he would be when they accomplish something new. I even recorded his friends and family telling stories about him so that they could understand all aspects of his life.

All of this will never be enough to replace him. But I hope bringing him to life in any way possible will be enough for some of the man that he was to still shape the people they will become. It has to be.

*I recently stumbled upon The Shared Grief Project, a website devoted to sharing “stories of individuals who have experienced a major loss at an early age and have gone on to live healthy, happy and successful lives.” The site includes videos of well-known people talking about the person they lost and how it impacted their lives. It is one of the most encouraging resources I have found. If you have resources on children’s grief that you would like to share, please do so in the comments section. We will add it to the Sources of Support section of our website.


Well written. We all have our cross to bear and our journey to walk. Thanks for your beautiful sentiments.

Add new comment