Life as a Widower

A young widowed father opening up about living with loss

true friendship

I’m closing this week with a little sense of pride and achievement. It’s hard to feel any truly positive emotions right now, but when they are driven by the happiness of my bereaved child then I will allow myself the tiniest respite from negativity, self-loathing and misery.

My son has all but rejected female company since the death of his mum. He’s played happily with husbands but then bitten their wives. He’s giggled with his friends’ dads and then barked at their mums. In the park he’s turned from a delightful little boy into a wild child at the sound of the word ‘mummy’ falling innocently from other toddlers’ lips.

So I’ve pulled back. I’ve limited the flow of human traffic through our door. I’ve thanked people for their kind offers but put plans off for some unspecified time in the future. I’ve tried my hardest to re-establish previously strong relationships that my son had with grown-ups, which seemed to lay in tatters in the weeks that followed my wife’s all-too-sudden death. And I haven’t really put him in front of anyone new. What’s more, I can’t really imagine that I will until he seems comfortable with the life he once knew again.

So I feel proud because the approach seems to be paying off. I’ve seen him hold my his mummy’s friends’ hands this week. I’ve watched him play with them and smile. I’ve heard them laugh together in the other room.

But the pride I suddenly feel is not for myself. It’s for my son for learning to understand why his mum trusted and loved these girls so much. And it’s for those same girls for having the patience and energy to persevere with his challenging behaviour towards them when they are inevitably at their weakest. When all they wanted was for the closest being on Earth to their lost friend Desreen to love them back.

It’s been a difficult path to travel and I imagine this slightly smoother track may be just a brief interruption to a yet more trying road ahead. But I know that we’re on this journey together and that my wife bequeathed me and my son something in invisible ink within her non-existent will. Friends. The very best kind too. The sort that understand that true friendship survives beyond death. And the sort that will honour that friendship for the rest of their days by bestowing and devoting it to their best friend’s child.

5 comments on “true friendship

  1. longtallally
    March 17, 2013

    A beautiful post that brought a tear to my eye for a few reasons. Firstly for thinking of you and your little boy and the pain you must be feeling and secondly remembering what it felt like when I lost my Mum almost fifteen years ago when I was sixteen. Thirdly and most importantly was thinking about true friendship and how it transcends death. My Mum’s best friends have been such a support, a comfort, a guiding light and shown me such great love. It’s been so wonderful not only to have their love but to feel my Mum’s love reflected in them and to be able to ask them things I never got to ask my Mum and to learn about her as a person and a friend rather than just “Mum”.

    I hope your little boy feels the same as he grows up. X

  2. Louisa
    March 17, 2013

    When my partner died 3 years ago I was given the book ‘Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine’ from Winston’s Wish, for my son who was 4 at the time. I have seen his behaviour change over time going through both good and bad times and I really think the title of this book totally reflects where both of our moods and behaviours go – enjoy the ‘sunshine’ times and these will increase over time but there will be a ‘muddle’ or ‘puddle’ looming which has to be weathered then another ‘sunshine’ will come along and hopefully stick around!! X

  3. longtallally
    March 17, 2013

    I lost my Mum when I was sixteen and in the prevailing fifteen years her friends have been such a support and comfort to me, I feel very blessed. Of course nothing will ever replace “Mum” but having their love and seeing her love for me reflected in them has really helped over the years. In addition, being able to ask them things I never had the chance to ask her, and to learn about her as a woman and a friend rather than just as Mum has been wonderful.

    I hope your son feels the same comfort as he grows up. I’m sorry for your loss. X

  4. Zoē
    December 24, 2014

    Thank you for sharing this. Five years ago today we buried one of my closest friends and sharing my life with and loving her children the best I can has given me so much joy. True friendship does indeed endure.

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