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Navigating Grief: Opinions, Awkward Comments & Tough Milestones

Updated: Jan 19

As I'm navigating grief, life after loss and solo-parenting, I'm becoming even more sure that there is no right or wrong way to do this.

There is no guide. Though there are plenty of people who think they could author one.

It’s sort of like motherhood.

You read what to expect and all the other parenting books. You go into the hospital and come out with a whole other human you’re now responsible for. "Here you go, don't screw up."

You have absolutely no idea what to do. No one does, but everyone has an opinion.

Breastfeed. Formula feed. Nurse to sleep. Cry it out. Stay at home. Work full time.

the day our babies met

New motherhood is overwhelming and there's also no guide. Though there are plenty of people who think they could author one.

The woman judging you for nursing in a restaurant, probably isn’t a mother. And that person judging you for dating “too soon” probably hasn't experienced the pain and loneliness of losing their life partner. (bless their hearts).

Sometimes naivety is a gift.

In both motherhood and grief, you’re tired, overwhelmed, and often times, depressed. You experience so much unwarranted advice and contradicting information.

Don’t hold him so much.

Let her cry. It’s good for her lungs (??)

Don’t wallow in your grief.

You have to move forward.

He wants you to be happy.

But not too happy.

One of my greatest insecurities in how I move forward lies in the fear that if I "appear" too happy, people will minimize the love I have and will always have for Mike.

As if to love him and grieve him, I have to be outwardly sadder. (mind you: outwardly sadder isn't always an option when you have two kids who need a happy mommy).

It sounds silly just typing that anyway, because that’s just not how this works.

Everybody grieving does so in their own way. In their own time.

Some people don’t take their wedding rings off for years. I switched mine to my right hand a few days after my husband died. This isn't because I was signing up for Hinge and ready to go get out there. I just wasn’t married anymore and I felt like I had to rip the Band Aid off.

I also didn’t want someone to reference my husband because then I was left to uncomfortably announce that he’s dead or just go along with the conversation pretending for a hot sec that my life is still “normal.”

I’m not sure which one hurts more.

Speaking of Hinge, the truth is, I have connected with widows who signed up for dating apps very quickly after their spouse died. And that's ok.

Dating wasn't even on my mind; but I met my boyfriend by happenstance. He's wonderful and he's extremely supportive and respectful of my process. There was a really dark period of time when Mike was first diagnosed that I genuinely didn't know how I'd survive. I couldn't eat and between the fear of what was to come and two wakeful babies, I couldn't sleep, either. While I'll always be in a process of healing, right now, I'm happy. My kids are happy. And that's all that really matters.

Some people are years into this new life they never asked for and can't even think about dating. That's also ok.

It took me 6+ months to take Mike’s clothes off their hangers and pack them away. I have no idea if that's perceived as quick or as long.... That also doesn't matter.

I started making funeral plans and writing my husband’s Eulogy before he died.

I needed to be “doing”. I was used to being consumed with Mike’s care but as he got sicker, there was less I could do for him.

He was confined to a bed and I couldn’t sit still - which sounds selfish considering he would have done absolutely anything to move again.

It was avoidance, maybe; but putting all of my energy into his care was my coping mechanism for a year and a half. Planning his funeral and writing down the beautiful memories I have with him made it feel like I was doing something for him again.

And that’s what I help him, to serve him, to care for him again….

As I'm navigating grief and life after loss, I'm realizing how very unpredictable it can be.

I took the boys out grocery shopping (damn you Amazon for implementing a delivery charge) a few days after Easter. The woman at the check out was very nice and my boys will strike up a conversation with anyone.

She asked what the Easter bunny brought them and then followed with "Did the Easter bunny come for Mommy and Daddy too?"

There are two options when this happens: (1) ignore it and move on or (2) open up the floor for the awkward apologies and pity Was I supposed to correct her?

I have no idea. I changed the topic and told them in the car that 'some people don't know daddy died. It's ok if that made you feel sad. It made me feel sad, too.' ~pro tip: don't make these assumptions~ I've been so excited for Dante to start baseball but I was a whole mess the morning leading up to his first game. Him in uniform was literally edible and I was so freakin' proud of him out on that field but in the back of my mind I kept thinking: this is what Mike dreamed of. He should be here. He should be coaching. But instead, I'm emailing his actual coach to tell him that Dante's dad isn't here and to please be mindful of how he refers to the kids' guardians.

First game on the same fields that daddy started playing

When I'm not getting requests for Meghan Trainor or Taylor Swift from rugrats in my backseat, I'm trying to become more well versed in Bret Young music as I'm going to see him in concert this weekend. In doing so, I came across the song "Chapters" which has these lyrics:

"every boy wants to be like his father, in Little League, he was coaching me, I was hangin' on every word..."

How timely this song discovery was. Thank you, Bret Young, for tearing my heart apart even more.

Songs that hit me this way are addicting. Sad but also weirdly therapeutic. Like, they force me to feel and then I can't stop listening...

Anyway, Dante got a hit in his first game, we had ice cream 3 days in a row and Dominic had several successful potty trips all in the same weekend...

Ebbs and flows....but always forward.

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