Dealing With Loss and Loneliness as a Widowed Single Mom
By Melissa Chapman
Being a widowed mom is like driving a car going sixty miles an hour with no brakes,” says Dr. Leah Klungness, PhD, psychologist and co-author of The Complete Single Mother. “Unlike women who contemplated divorce or chose to be a single Mother these women were not thinking for even a brief second about the possibility of raising their kids solo.”
In the blink of an eye these women are thrust into one of the most challenging jobs imaginable, without a safety net. In addition to their own grief and bewilderment, they have to help their kids make sense and come to terms with their father’s death.
“I can somewhat relate to the plight of widowed single Moms although not entirely,” says Dr. Leah who categorizes herself as a single Mother by abandonment, after her ex husband deserted her and her two young kids, who at that time, were seven and three years old. “We were about to move to the Carolinas to join my husband who had already settled there a bit earlier, and as the moving van pulled away with our stuff he called to tell me he didn’t want to be married anymore.”
Suffice it to say, Dr. Leah and her kids were completely devastated like most families who are handed a set of circumstances they didn’t sign up for. But she admits that most like Moms who find themselves in this unenviable position, she needed to focus on the task at hand; taking care of her kids in the best way possible.
“I was in an absolute daze but eventually I realized that I needed to move on with my life,” says Dr. Leah, who decided to go back to graduate school, get her doctorate in psychology and pen the book she wished she’d had as a single Mom. “I knew I had to make the most of my talents in order to give my kids the kind of life they deserved.”
Dr. Leah Offers these Tips For Tackling Your New Role as a Widowed Single Mother.
There’s no grief time table but remember that you need to begin your new life.
“At first you’ll get a flood of casseroles and cakes, and your friends and neighbors will reassure you that they’ll be there for you,” says Dr. Leah. “Then a month or two later everyone is back to their living lives. While there are no set schedules and, certainly, no “right way” to grieve, eventually you have to make your own life.”
Make No Decisions in haste.
“Initially making simple decisions, without the support of your partner, will be a bit scary and therefore you must be wary of the advice you will be flooded with by people who may have their own reasons for wanting you to make certain decisions.” says Dr. Leah. “Although their intentions are probably good, too much of the advice is conflicting and it’s important that you begin to make big life decisions on your own.”
Practice this exercise to deal with your constant worries.
Try to prioritize your many worries into two categories: Things you can do something about and things about which you can do nothing. The things you can do nothing about should be crossed off the “worry list!” Devote a specific time period every day to “realistic worrying” but not, of course, endless hours. Twenty or thirty minutes a day is more than enough. Then, when you find yourself worrying about something you can tell yourself that this is not the time to worry and add it to your worry list for tomorrow.
Ask yourself the basic question; How am I going to take care of my family’s financial needs?
“It’s going to take a great deal of introspection to ultimately figure out what you need to do now,” says Dr. Leah. “I always recommend getting short term, therapeutic, solution based-help which can be a safe place for you to express what’s going on with a neutral party.”
More Great SMW Articles on Love and Loss
Opening Our Hearts After Loss
Healthy Grief: When Death Steals Your Love
Single Minded Moms: Changes…a Single Dad’s Perspective