No Title for Us
A widow is a woman whose husband has died and a widower is a man whose wife has died. An orphan is a child whose parents are both dead, but what is a woman or a man whose children are dead? There isn’t any title for us; yet, we exist. It would help to know how others like me cope, but I don’t know one man or woman personally who has lost their entire family and that makes me feel even more alone. There is comfort in sharing with someone who walks in your shoes.
As I write this, it is the year 2006 and I am 67 years old; my “family” consists of two dearly loved cats. I have so much maternal instinct left and only the cats on whom to squander it. I gladly apply it to my grandchildren when I see them, but that is a very rare occasion indeed. They are teenagers and busy with their own lives; also, I suspect that it may make them sad to see me. They know how much I loved their father and how alone I am without him.
My daughter died at the age of 18 in 1980 and my son at the age of 41 in 2005. My marriage was over or, as my son put it, “our family ended,” before I lost my oldest child and only daughter. When I lost Evie, I still had Albert, was in a committed relationship and held down two jobs. Twenty-five years later when I lost Albert, my only son, I was retired and no longer had parents, siblings or many other relatives. I felt truly alone. He was my “rock,” my connection to life, my reason to be.
I have been advised to journal, which I have done. It helped me to pour out the feelings onto paper, especially because there was no one with whom I felt that I could share all of them. Things became clearer as I wrote and when re-reading at a later date, it helped me to benchmark my progress through the maze.
This work includes selected pages from those journals, which were written at different times as I tried to take in my loss and then find a way to live the rest of my life. It also includes poetry, some of mine, written at different times in my life, and some of Evie’s, written in the late 70’s.
I have found books on losing a child, the unfairness of life and other related topics, but I have not found anything that spoke to my specific situation; therefore, I decided to put something together in the hope that others coping in a similar situation may relate to my ramblings and that they will feel less alone.
That said, I don’t mean to imply that I have solved all the problems, beaten the pain and got a wonderful new life going; not true. What I have going is a life in progress, one that I live day by day trying to make good decisions and do the right things. Putting my personal experience in print seemed like the right thing for me to do and my hope is that others will agree.