Listen to Your Kids

The first year after John died made me more dependent on others than I was accustomed.  Priding myself on making good decisions when we were married, I made mistakes but also many solid choices.  As a team, we did a great job planning our life together.

With John not a partner anymore, I had to think about things myself.  There was no one in the house that I could “bounce” things off.  I found myself calling friends, family and my kids more often.  That was hard.

listen_to_childrenHowever, I was amazed at the comfort and support my son and his wife were while managing their own grief.  We sat as a family and looked at options together.  Selling the family house was the biggest decision we made and we did a good job.

I think getting past initial emotion is the first thing.  Looking at the decisions with financial honesty can be tough—but necessary.  When I came to the conclusion that I did not want or need to maintain the home we had shared for twenty-three years, it did not really shock my wise daughter-in-law.  She helped my son identify and eventually accept that this was what I wanted… and needed to do.  I will always thank her for this.

I think it is important to listen to your children.  They probably know you the best outside of a spouse.  I found myself in awe at the maturity of both my son and his wife.  I should not have been surprised but I was.  It gave me a sense of security that I had had previously and lost—the next best thing to having my husband.

As a parent we get used to the leadership role.  Well, I learned that I could take a vacation from some of that expectation and just be.  I let my family soothe me with their observations.  In the end, many things were my decision but listening to their reasoning opened my eyes.  I also knew that what they said had no motive other than my happiness.  That was a great anchor during days when selecting my breakfast food looked big to me.

So, I urge listening to your children as a large part of living this new life alone.  Make it a point to ask their opinion and listen.

Listening during these months of grief is challenging because it seems that things get in the way.  Your mind wanders a lot and along with the emotions, you can lose focus.  Bearing that in mind, you can feel confident, sharing with your kids and be propelled by their love.

About the Author

Maryann Hartzell-Curran, a retired educator and counselor, has written a personal account of her journey through the first year of grieving the loss of her husband in her book, “From We to Me,” to help support those who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Maryann founded a successful family therapy practice and taught in the public and private sectors. She also founded and directed a church-based preschool in Lombard, Ill., and gained experience working with the elderly as director of a senior dining center. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in counseling from Illinois Benedictine University.

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Liny Nieuweboer says:

    I really enjoy reading your short stories, keep them coming , Maryann

  2. John Taylor says:

    This is very true. It honestly doesn’t matter how old your kids are. We all can learn from our own children (mine happens to be much younger) but keeping our eyes and heart open will always bring us great pleasure and knowledge in seeing another person’s point of view.

    For instance, this morning I was watching the special report on the Syria crisis and our daughter happened to walk into the room. I immediately turned the TV off because there was (unfortunately) video of young children through adults suffering from the effects of the chem’s. I had a very nice conversation explaining that the world is a very dangerous place and we need to continue to be thankful that we live in our country of the U S of A! This helped our daughter understand and me too!