One of 1,000 questions for couples in the “what if” category is often, “What if you die? How will I go on?” This anxiety and loss can be made even worse if you’ve got kids and you’re forced to become a single parent.
You may remember the 2007 tearjerker PS I Love You starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler. The film follows a young widow (played by Swank) living in Texas, unaware that her recently deceased husband had written a series of letters to her before he died, all with the intention of helping her go on with her life. The movie was based on the best-selling book of the same name, written by Cecilia Ahern.
This heartbreaking story resonated in real life recently… It isn’t clear if Mitchell Whisenhunt had seen the movie or read the book, but he too wrote letters for his wife and daughter to read at certain milestones in their lives. Whisenhunt died recently at the age of 26 of Marfan Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue.
Whisenhunt left behind a wife, Ashley, and their one-year-old daughter, Bryn, and he knew that he wouldn’t be around for many of his daughter’s life milestones. So he left dozens of letters for his family – something his wife knew nothing about until he died.
Coping with grief as a single parent
The death of a spouse is hard enough when it’s just the two of you, but when children are involved, things can be particularly grueling. Now that you’re a single parent, how will you make ends meet? How will you cope with the grief? There are a thousand couples questions that may come up.
Adjusting to single parenthood means a lot of changes, ranging from dads learning how to do little girls’ hairstyles and moms learning how to throw a baseball. But, there’s also the grief to deal with. Some people are able to work through their grief with the help of friends and families while others find solace through counseling.
When you have to raise children on your own, it is more important than ever to take care of yourself. Grief and stress can wreak havoc on the body. So, accept help – from wherever it comes – and stay focused on the future. Getting used to the new day-to-day routine will take time for all of you, but it is possible.