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Updated: Mar 23, 2023

You are most likely familiar with the stages of grief or mourning process of the loss of a loved one. Whether you have watched someone go through it or you have gone through it yourself, you know. The shock, pain, despair, the learning to live again it's all part of the process. What you may not know about grief is that every happy occasion triggers grief. Raising two teenagers after the sudden loss of my spouse was no easy task. There were a lot of difficult moments with two kids suffering grief and trauma all while having to show up to school, sports, activities and the brutal drama of high school. (If you your kids live through that, consider it a miracle. That's another blog.) But, what about the celebrations, the victories, the pride that comes from watching our children win? Whether it's a good report card, victory in sports, awards for achievements, serving others, prom, graduation...dropping your child off at college and not having your spouse to celebrate and grieve with, there are tears. I have had many moments like this, such as getting a letter that my son had made the college Dean's scholar list for academic achievement! Or achieving his personal fitness goal of squatting 405lbs! (If you saw how thin he was in High School, you would understand.) I have cried many happy tears over these years without their Dad. Just yesterday my daughter sent me a photo of the items she picked up as she prepares for her college graduation! Then I saw the metal she received. She will be graduating with honors, MAGNA CUM LAUDE. I completely lost it. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. It means all the more knowing that my children have not only learned to survive, but thrive! They did this on their own. When their Dad died I had to retire my former career as "helicopter mom" and began my new career as widow and single mom. They have had to learn to fly on their own. Yes, I have kept them clothed and fed, but they have found their own strength. Watching them overcome and succeed in their personal goals is a parenting victory. This is good grief. And while their father has missed many of these joyous occasions, he prepared them for this with the bricks he built them with. So, I may come across as another bragging mom and maybe I am. My tears of joy with every victory are sprinkled with sadness that he's not here. My daughter has also been accepted to a PhD program in Biomolecular Science and Engineering. Her Daddy is smiling from heaven!

If you are traveling the parallel tracks of grief of joy and sadness, you are not alone. Find people to cry and rejoice with. I have often gone to a trusted friend and said, "can you be Dad for a minute so I can share this amazing moment with?"

I also would like to add if your teenagers are struggling through grief, hang in there. Be present, feed them and just love them. As their "only parent" we need to be their safe place.

*My name is Jennifer. I am a certified life coach, grief educator and I specialize in new beginnings. Keep an eye out for my ad in Divorcing Well Magazine. Divorcing Well sounds interesting right? No one wants a divorce or plans on a death, but you can learn to find a new beginning of healing, hope, freedom, love and adventure!*

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