ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Grief Is Individual, As Are Our Continued Motivations For Survival

Updated on December 5, 2016

Single Parenting Is Tough - Doing It After Loss Even Tougher

I had a brief taste of being a single parent when my husband left for two and a half months to go on a course a couple of provinces away from us - me and our two daughters. Our youngest was an infant at the time and our oldest around 5 years of age. It was one of the most challenging times of my life, and one that gave me just a little bit more empathy than I already had for parents facing the challenge of raising children alone.

I could not imagine trying to single parent while coping with my grief over the loss of a spouse.

I've got a friend who had to face that challenge, and while she has since found a partner, I can only imagine the devastation she faced after the death of her husband. Their son, now almost 18, was only a toddler when he died, and I know in the months and years that followed his passing there were great challenges to go along with the equally significant celebrations.

Comedian Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille) has been openly discussing how he's been coping following the death of his wife, Michelle McNamara, in April 2016. They had a young daughter together, Alice, whom Oswalt credits with helping him get through the days.

Some might argue that you have to keep going following a spouse's death for your own sake and sanity, yet what do those people know of the inner anguish that the new widow or widower is facing? How difficult it is to get out of bed, shower, or even get back to work following such loss?

I'm just a teacher, writer, friend, and so forth. I can only speculate about the depth of grief people face in the wake of this sort of loss, and even in speculation, I shudder. In his recent essay for GQ, Oswalt discusses the terror of having to walk this road without his wife at his side, and while he acknowledged that there were days in the beginning where he said he couldn't even fathom continuing without her, he's doing it for Alice because he has to.

Some might look at those who pin such hope and will to live on young children as a terrible burden for these kids to face, but in reality, parent and child are quite likely working together to get through. It's hard to envision young kids lifting a parent when they're at their absolute lowest, but isn't that what happens daily? You could have the roughest day ever at work and all it takes is your child to give you a hug or a sloppy kiss and tell you that they love you and all of a sudden you feel awesome again.

Kids are magical in that way, and while they might be lost in their own worlds at times, including when they are grieving hard, they have a knack for helping their parents bring themselves out of their own fogs. It strikes me that the biggest example of life going on after a loss is a parent trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered life to show their kids that it has to go on.

A New Sort Of Normal

Source

What Happens Now?

Life has a way about showing you what paths lie ahead. There's no question to that. All of us, whether we acknowledge it or not, are on some sort of journey where we never quite know where we're going or even how we're getting there, and any sort of huge upset to this can really derail everything you've known.

Patton Oswalt has admitted as much. "It sucked and it was a hassle every time, but the world kept turning. I said, “Whoops, my bad,” and fixed it and kept stumbling forward," he says.

These are not easy admissions. As grown ups, we often hate to acknowledge we make mistakes, and when the mistakes we make involve our own kids, the admission becomes even more difficult. However, the kids can learn something from us and our daily fumbles. Grace under pressure is not something that comes easily or comfortably - it's inherent in the name. Without pressure or stress, there can be no opportunity to rise to any given occasion.

Grieving parents know there is no off switch to kids. Even when the kids are sleeping, there's always something imprinted on a parent's DNA that keeps them alert for night terrors, vomiting, or just the desire to cuddle with Mom or Dad. Kids are unpredictable humans and only add to the adventure, but when a parent is grieving the loss of a partner, it likely feels impossible to continue parenting.

"I want to tune out the world and hide under the covers and never leave my house again and send our daughter, Alice, off to live with her cousins in Chicago, because they won't screw her up the way I know I will," Oswalt admits in one of the most heartbreaking and heartfelt passages in his essay.

But he keeps going. For her. And again, while some might question putting one's will to keep going on a young child, there is no better reason.

"I'm moving forward—clumsily, stupidly, blindly—because of the kind of person Alice is," he writes. "She's got so much of Michelle in her. And Michelle was living her life moving forward. And she took me forward with her. Just like I know Alice will. So I'm going to keep moving forward. So I can be there with you if you need me, Alice. Because I'll need you."

To all those who keep moving forward: you got this.

Saying Goodbye; Moving Forward

At an event, Patton Oswalt warmly kisses his wife, Michelle McNamara, who died in April 2016.  Oswalt has been very frank about moving on with their daughter, Alice, who is still quite young.
At an event, Patton Oswalt warmly kisses his wife, Michelle McNamara, who died in April 2016. Oswalt has been very frank about moving on with their daughter, Alice, who is still quite young.

Patton Oswalt Eulogizes His Late Wife

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 17 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      How difficult it would be to have to go on without one's spouse! The older my husband and I get, the more I realize that one day this may be our reality. I cherish each day I have with him, knowing that is one more day I do not have to be alone!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)