When Your Adult Children Grieve

Today my daughter runs.

She runs to honor her husband, Keith, who passed away nine months ago.  She runs because he loved running.  She runs to represent the struggle of her grief journey.  She runs because her two young vibrant children do not afford her much  time to grieve.  She is running with the community that was Keith’s professional community; which was also their family’s community. And she is running with friends.  They come from all over the map.  They trained for this day for months and now they are running together. With her, for her, for Keith, for the children. Today.  300+ miles away in Washington DC. she runs.  It is the Navy Air Force Half Marathon.

And I am not there.

And I am struggling with that.

A lot.

I woke up early. I am signed up for athlete tracker.  I stare at my email account.  No updates.  My imagination runs wild.  Where is she? How is her body feeling? Is she buoyed by race time excitement? Is she shedding tears? Most likely yes and yes. Although I was able to support her by watching the kids while she trained, it just doesn’t feel like enough.

After my husband passed away, another daughter wanted to hike Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park. One of the ways of grieving her loss was to bury some of her Dad’s ashes at the top. This was a hike they wanted to do together, but he was physically unable to. Determined to support her, and battling total fear I completed the task with her.

This mama bear wants to do anything and everything to protect her cubs.  How desperately I want to take away their pain from the deep losses they’ve experienced in their young lives.  After my husband’s death, I made a choice to grieve well; whatever that means.  I was determined not to run from the grief and all things associated with my husband,  but to allow the waves of sadness to come. To trust in the process of grief, having experienced it before. But it is so different when you see your adult children suffer.  Often times as Mom’s, we feel like we are doing a good job when we “make things better” for our children regardless of age. It cuts deep to know that I cannot do anything to fix this for my daughters. I cannot mend their broken hearts. I do not know how to ease their pain. But I do know Who can. He can provide constant help, love, and healing to my girls just as continues to do for me.

Mourning into Joy

As a parent of grieving adult children, there is no right way to do this. It is important for me to continue the work of adjusting to life as a single woman. And there is a balance to caring for myself and being available to care for my daughters and grandchildren.  I have not figured it out. Not even close.  But that’s OK.

And so I encourage Rebecca to run like Keith. And Molly to hike like Mike. I can love them through their struggles.  I can stand back and allow God and others to comfort them. And I can know that being present is enough.

 It is enough.

baby and camel

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” Prov 31:25

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7 thoughts on “When Your Adult Children Grieve

  1. Susan Ennis says:

    Patty, Thanks for an inspiring post with great reminders for all of us. Moments ago I received the email that Becky finished the half marathon at 10:44 AM. Praise God! Your shining example of hope for your family makes a huge difference as they each grow, achieve, grieve, and learn. Stand proud and tall with God’s grace!

  2. Peggy says:

    I knew you would post today and glad you did-I knew today’s event would be tough for you-I knew how badly you wanted to be with Becky-and knowing how much you hurt for your girls and the losses and the grief you share-your strength in your faith in God is challenged but yet you continue to go forward–keep writing-keep sharing-keep running and hiking-you will find your way–through this and Gods continued love and guidance–

  3. Laurie says:

    Thinking of you all

  4. Jane Mignone says:

    Thank you for sharing ,and keep pressing on with your reliance and trust in God. Your testimony is an encouragement to our human frailness and weakness. You are a good mom who is so loved by our heavenly Father.
    He is sufficient. Love, Jane

  5. Joanne McCoy says:

    Thanks, Patty, for your words. Working with Todd and Gwynne keeps us on our knees. T&J’s move is another unexpected loss for us. And for Todd, we pray that he not ignore the grief with all the work of getting kids into new schools, a new neighborhood, and new job. However did Jesus live here on earth, choosing to come, choosing to give Himself over to death so we could know life and pure joy?

    I envy your ability to climb Angel’s Landing – one of my regrets, although I can do it in my head (something I learned from Keith when trying to convince him there were limits to planet earth)! Does Molly ever consider doing a Haiti trip and seeing Mike’s vision there? Just a thought…

    Finally beginning to reenter life, I think. Got the upstairs rooms taken apart and spring-cleaned – working with Bob to find a time to take the living room apart and vacuum and clean the carpet…and take the screens out so I can clean windows. It felt good..

    Becky’s observation that the GBC downstairs venue is more easily navigated than the sanctuary was helpful – I might try that next Sunday…more steps in making decisions that match who I am.

    Grieving/celebrating with you today in another loss. Praying it’ll be a blessing for all the family as you get together. I’m glad Bob and Susie and Rob and Susan (or is the other way around? I did keep it straight for awhile!) can see Becky and the grands again…

    And thankful that Kim could go with Becky and give care to her before/during/after the run. We got word she had made it to the finish line before we left church! Lots of joy and thankfulness all around…

    Praying you’re continuing to enjoy the v-ball season and continuing to feel like you’re “back”. Blessings – Joanne.

  6. Debbie says:

    Dearest Patty, Thank you for sharing and putting such beautiful words to your emotions. It touched me deeply.

  7. Susan Bever says:

    I just found this and read it. You are a sincere and true kind hearted Mama Bear.

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