The first photo, one year to the day after their Dad’s plane crash. We were in Aspen, Colorado, spreading his ashes as he wished.
The second photo last November.
Their bond is undeniable and their amazing spirits are a gift to me and have been every single day since their Dad died.
One thing I can tell you, if you surround them with love, light, positive energy, amazing role-models and good parameters….they will be okay.
Here are a few tips for the widowed parents out there:
#1 – Don’t spoil them with stuff. It won’t bring back what they lost and it won’t replace a thing. Instead, shower them with time.
#2 – Don’t allow them to act poorly and then use their loss as an excuse for bad behavior. Trust me, I’ve used the line “Your dad’s death is not an excuse for bad behavior more than a few times in the past nine years.
#3 – Surround them with a village. Show them community and that family comes in many, many, forms…not all of it is blood but all of it is love.
#4 – Have rules, structure, and balance. All children need boundaries, it makes them feel safe, that goes especially for kids of loss.
#5 – Talk to them about their parent. AT LENGTH, any time they want to talk. Tell them stories, show them photos, allow them to remember.
#6 – Let them grieve for as long as they need to. It’s a forever part of who they are.
#7 – Encourage them to be active. Just like I preach fitness is good for the adults, it goes double for the children. It’s a positive outlet and will help them deal with their sad days in a constructive way.
#8 – Allow them to be happy and move forward. “Children don’t get stuck unless you stick them” my therapist once told me. I found that to be very true. Children grieve differently than adults.
#9 – Stand by them. You will have good days and bad days. Wherever they are in their journey, show them you stand with them, they have lost enough already.
#10 – Give them unconditional love. No explanation needed.
#11 – Be honest with them about life and death. The truth is that someday we all die and we can’t promise our children that they won’t lose us too. I have very honest talks with my two, you should as well.
#12 – Have expectations for them. It’s okay, they aren’t fragile, you can have expectations for their grades, their behavior, their attitude and their personal growth. Just make sure your expectations are in line with their development.
#13 – Show them it’s okay to live again laugh again and love again. See my next point for more on this.
#14 – Lead By Example. I always say that if you are okay, they will be okay. Lead in this life. Show them the way not with words but with your actions.
I hope this helps someone out there tonight.