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The Widowed Parent: Grief, Loss & Children

With divorce statistics reaching record numbers in the United States, many parents find the security of another adult, in the child rearing process, is suddenly missing. As a single parent, there are many challenges to be faced in raising children and trying to maintain financial and emotional stability. But, for another group of women, there is a slightly different dynamic – the mother who is suddenly widowed.

Undoubtedly, the loss of a spouse is considered what of the most life altering complications a woman can experience. With grief and overwhelming loss, we are suddenly thrust into a world of managing a home and children all alone. On top of loneliness, grief and stress, many widowed mothers feel a sense of anger over the sudden twist of fate their lives have taken and often suffer from a sort of emotional and physiological paralysis in which even the most simple of decisions become difficult. This is, essentially, a woman’s natural way of shutting down to the sudden stress that has taken hold.

When a spouse passes away, the widowed mother often finds she faces a great sense of worry over the welfare of her children. With the loss of a father, the children also suffer a great sense of emotional and physical stress and now must come to terms with the financial impact the loss will have on their homes.

One of the key areas in dealing with grief and loss, after the loss of a spouse, is the process by which you, personally, to face your grief. There is no timeframe that is appropriate for grieving. All too often, friends and family members will appear, even months and years after the death of your spouse, and try to justify the basis on which the grief should have ended. The key to your own emotional well being is to focus on when and if your grief is ready to subside. While the grief and sense of loss will never go away, we all have a method for overcoming it and for some individuals, our method to overcoming grief may not be in tune with their own thoughts and opinions.

Beyond your grief and the grief of your children, there are other issues that must be addressed as a widowed mother and that involves the disposal of your spouse’s personal possessions. While it is never recommended that all possessions be disposed of, it is a task that should occur at some point following the death. Again, this should be on your own timing as the widowed mother who must consider the emotions of your children as well.

As part of your grieving process, and in moving forward in financial and emotional stability, one of the key focuses, as a widowed mother, should be on the welfare of the children. Because children respond uniquely to the death of a parent, the widowed mother must make every effort to avoid overwhelming children with her own emotions, loss and grief. Provide your children with an outlet in which to express their emotions and, in turn, save them from the burden of yours by processing your emotions into a more structured setting with other loved ones, a support group and even a therapist. In doing so, you will be giving your children the greatest gift as a newly single parent; the gift of emotional peace at home.

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