Getting through the first year of losing your partner is a bit like a roller coaster. There will be enormous ups and downs. You might be plunged into the depths of despair at any given moment. You may burst into tears in the supermarket when trying to work out what to cook for supper that night. And you might also experience inexplicable highs. Day by day, you start to get used to the practicalities of your new life as the realisation that your partner is not coming back really begins to hit home. You will have to struggle through many “firsts” without your partner by your side – from your first Christmas to your first birthday on your own.Grieving is a long, slow process. But slowly each day will start to get a little bit easier.
It's even harder if you're a single parent. But don’t be too harsh on yourself.
Today, it's common to talk about single-parent family problems and their disadvantages to children. This can lead some single parents to think there is little they can do to have a successful family. That's not so.
Not all children growing up in single-parent families experience negative consequences, just as not all overweight people have heart attacks. More importantly, focusing on the weaknesses and problems doesn't help single parents and their children become strong.
So what are the common challenges or new responsibilities that you face as a single parent?
Being on 24/7 means that there is no one to pass the baton to
Self-doubt you don’t know if you are doing a good job or not
Making decisions alone
Missing the child when it’s with its other parent
Stress about money
Accepting that you have a different family to the one you planned to have
Losing your sense of self
What are the best ways to deal with the new responsibilities?
One of the best ways to cope with single parenthood after the loss of your spouse is to provide a stable and consistent environment for your child. Consistency and stability is important. Your child needs to understand the boundaries as this will help them to feel safe and secure. It's also really important to communicate honestly with your child and give them a safe space to let you know how they are feeling. Grief will be challenging for you both and will not disappear quickly. Birthdays and family celebrations may be particularly hard.
One of the biggest challenges is often creating a stable financial situation for yourself. Death of a loved one causes financial strain because one person is left shouldering a load typically shared by two. You can control your own financial situation by organising your finances and becoming intentional about how you will spend your money. It’s a good idea to consult with a financial planner.
The most important thing is to not try to face everything alone. Ask for help and use the support of friend’s family and outside organisations to help you to create a stable environment for yourself as soon as possible. If you can take steps to make the running of your home as easy as possible then it is far easier to care for yourself and your child. Whilst you are grieving you do not need the added stress of money worries or loose ends.
We have created a video series and workbooks in the member's area to help you to cope with grief and plan a happy future for yourself. Please accept our condolences and we hope that you find the resources we have created useful.