Parenting when life isn't so happy

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you may have read that my dad, Paul, died very unexpectedly the Monday before last, after suffering a stroke 1800 miles from home in Las Vegas, where he’d taken a cross-country RV trip with my aunt and uncle to visit their sister.

I am feeling raw, not just because, duh, my dad just died, and also not just because my mom died 10 years ago so that makes me an orphan at the age of 32. Don’t get me wrong, those two things really suck. But it’s a kind of sadness I can wrap my brain around, if that makes sense. We all know death equals loss and loss equals grief. It’s a formula we understand. I knew my dad wouldn’t live forever. In many small ways, I’ve been preparing myself for this event for years, especially since I lost my mom so early. So while it’s horrible and painful and I’ll miss him, what’s so strange to deal with is seeing how very much life does go on, and how much life will go on after I die, and all the uncomfortable questions that raises in my mind about how to best live these unpredictable, short, and sometimes simultaneously incredibly lovely and impossibly painful lives we are given.

These are not the thoughts I expected to be grappling with this week. If you’d asked me a month ago how I expected to spend the month of July I’d have told you I’d be writing, hanging out at the park and beach, and grilling in the backyard…not writing an obituary or rifling through pictures with my stepmother to put together into a slide show for my dad’s funeral service, or contemplating life after death and the meaning of existence.

I know from experience that things will get better bit by bit, and worse in some ways, as well. But in the meanwhile I’m having a hard time finding much energy for actual parenting. The kids have gone a bit feral over the last week and a half. They ran wild with their many small cousins for the last 10 days, sleeping where they landed and subsisting on takeout and snacks, bathing irregularly and staying up–and sleeping in–way too late. Now all the family has gone home, things should start getting back to normal, but, uh…they aren’t. The boys have been playing video games all day, “breakfast” happened at 11 AM and “lunch” just got served, and right now Clara’s under the table pawing at an empty carton of Ben & Jerry’s that her brothers just finished off. I’m having a hard time getting outside of myself long enough to remember that my kids have lost someone, too, and need a little extra care right now.

Readers, I don’t have any words of wisdom this week, but I’m hoping you can help me out. Do you have any advice or tips for parenting as happily and effectively as possible through grief?

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