Widowed with kids at 42 - a new phase of the journey
When I first introduced myself in 2009, I was just in the beginning of what has been a long journey of caregiving. When my youngest child was 16 months old, my mother was diagnosed with a recurrence of pancreatic cancer. As her only family, I had the honor and responsibility of being with her through the last months of her life. I gave much of myself to her care, and while it was truly a sacred time of being together and helping with the many transitions at the end of life, it was a stressful time for me and my immediate family. Then, the same week that she died, my beloved husband was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. He approached his illness with a very positive attitude. He treated with radiation and chemo as well as alternative medicine and nutrition. We called upon our circle of friends and family for support, and were blessed with more love and kindness than I had imagined were possible. We had many lovely times together and built sweet memories with our children. And yet cancer is a nasty beast. It spread to his bones and brain, liver and more. He died last month, and we just finished up with his memorial service a little over a week ago. And now I find myself wondering what happens next.
Even though I am still catching my breath from all that has happened, I am curious about what life holds. I will need to shift into the role of primary breadwinner, but with social security and life insurance, I feel like I don't have to panic about it just yet. I want to take time to heal, be present with my children, make thoughtful choices, reconnect with the world and prepare myself to work in a way that will sustain my family and allow me to give to the world. I am worried about the challenges of being a single mother, but feel like I will be able to adapt somehow and that my children will be okay, one way or another.
But I wonder, how do people reconnect when they've been focused on their immediate needs for a long time? How do single parents get out of the house and meet other people? How can we build community to care for ourselves and our kids at the same time? Any perspectives out there from others who have been through something similar?