We lost my wife about a month after my daughter’s second birthday and I was so distraught in the early days that I was having panic attacks. The thought of being a single father was incredibly terrifying, how am I going to raise a little girl on my own?! Luckily, psychotherapy and a detailed wellness plan have helped me leave those feelings behind. Each year, my daughter gets a little older, and I am reminded that I do not need to worry about being able to walk the path of a single parent anymore. Especially, since each added candle to my daughter’s birthday cake means I am not only walking the path of a single parent, I am in fact, making MY OWN path as a single parent.
Sometimes, I still feel frustrated and alienated when I hear two parent families talk about how hard it is to raise kids. I still find myself thinking, well, at least there are two of you! Psychotherapy has taught me that life struggles are relative and that two parent families often have serious problems that I am unaware of—a teaching that is invaluable to me. However, are life struggles truly relative? Clearly, some parents do have it harder, for instance, our neighbor takes her daughter to school each day in a wheelchair. I cannot imagine not being able to chase my daughter around or play soccer with her. So yes, I do understand that life struggles are relative, but not always. That’s why I don’t embrace the notion that other people have moved on with their life struggles and, therefore, so should I, “Your daughter needs you to move on.”
I wish society wasn’t so afraid of the most important questions in life. We need to think about why are we here? Where are we going? Is there life after death? I understand that many people fear these questions which is why people will often change the topic or encourage me to believe in a higher power. However, for me, aside from talking about children, what is more important to our species than wrestling with these questions.
The last four years have taught me that as a society we fear death too much. It is something that we all will go through as our bodies breakdown, yet, we discuss it so little. For me, fear of death is not helpful if it prevents human beings from comforting each other during difficult times. I used to walk on eggshells when it came to the topic of death for fear of offending or ‘rudely’ challenging someone’s cosmological worldview—but now I have the confidence and life experience to get the most out of such conversations.