My baby girl turned nine recently.
She was just a few weeks from turning three when her father passed away, and I will remember the moment I told her about her father’s death until the day I die.
It was without question one of the most painful moments of my life.
She was so young and innocent yet so profoundly aware of her loss.
She took it all in; she cried, and then she picked herself up and went along to play.
Children without question grieve differently than adults.
My choice was to keep a routine for my kids, and because I had planned her birthday party long before the accident, I decided to move forward with her day as painful as it was. I can’t put into words the depth of agony that is living beyond loss. I wanted to forget every special moment in our lives because living these moments without him seemed impossible and cruel beyond measure. I wanted to hide, cancel birthdays, holiday, special moments, and all days that emphasized the happiness and hope. I remember her 3rd birthday party like it was yesterday. My daughter has an old soul, and she seemed empty, lost, and profoundly sad.
We celebrated just the same, and my heart broke watching one of my children grieve so intensely.
For those first few days, weeks, and months after Mitch’s death I was consumed with worry regarding my children’s well-being.
Would they truly be okay after a devastating loss at such a young age?
A mother’s job is to protect her children, and this situation was something I had no control over – I could not fix this. All I could do was provide shelter, rest from her storm, and loving arms to fill a void as deep as her blue eyes. My pain was often pushed to the side because nothing mattered more than them. It is tough to grieve when you are the sole provider to young children.
Shortly after Mitch’s death I received a lifeline in the form of an email from another widow who was several years out from her loss. The email was short and to the point, the email just said, “your children will be okay.” I rarely cried in my first year, but this email reduced me to rubble because it highlighted for me the one thing my heart feared most.
Would my children would be destroyed for life from their loss?
I realized at that moment that I was petrified of not being able to shelter them from this storm and that I often feared we would not be able to handle the tsunami of emotions continually pulling us under. This email validated for me what I needed to hear -maybe my kids would be okay, maybe we would survive, and maybe we would even thrive.
Fast forward six years and my baby turned nine a few weeks ago.
She is a beautiful soul that lights my path and gives me daily hope for our best life. She is bright, articulate, deep, stubborn, independent, and has a heart that restores my faith in humanity. She is thriving in school, has friends galore, and has moved forward in a way that makes me so proud to be her mom. Her love for her father is never ending, and her love for life shows me that nature and nurture will play their role to light her path.
For those who have lost and are deep in your personal tsunami tonight, let me assure you that, “your children will be okay.” Show them the way, lead by example, give them tools and watch them thrive. Children are amazing beings, give them credit for just how much their deep souls comprehend and process.
Give them credit for just much they can thrive despite their loss.
Your children will be okay…
With all my love,
Live the List is a nonprofit that specializes in helping the widowed take steps forward with life after loss. For more on Live the List email Lisa@livethelistnonprofit.org
Michelle Steinke-Baumgard is the founder of Live the List Nonprofit, One Fit Widow and My1FitLife. Micelle is a speaker, author and fitness coach. Michelle is currently working on her first book for HarperCollins, which deals with fitness as a grief coping mechanism. For more on Michelle email email@example.com.