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Grief Struggles – Weddings Without a Parent

One of the grief struggles we get to go through are special events like weddings. Weddings with no spouse can be awkward and bring up many swirling emotions. Merely attending weddings as a widow is awkward enough. You go sit by yourself or maybe a friend or family member sits with you. You can’t help but remember your wedding and those happy vows. It’s one of many grief struggles we get to live through as widows and widowers.

When the joyous occasion of your child getting engaged and then married occurs, a whole host of new swirling emotions erupt. Hosting your children’s weddings with no father or mother is gut wrenching. These were supposed to be the happiest of days and there’s the bittersweet sadness of who is NOT here for this special day.

No matter what the circumstances are, know you will do the best you can and survive this day. Take some time to prepare yourself for the bittersweet moments. 

Teresa’s story – The engagement came and went of my youngest to his high school sweetheart. Joyful for them and hopeful for their future. For me, not a lot of sadness, just a thought of or darn Kris isn’t here for this- augh this sucks for Kurtis. Fast forward to the weeks before the wedding and the final preparations. As the mother of the groom, there was not a lot for me to plan other than the rehearsal dinner. 

The kids decided to have a memorial table of all of those who have passed as a way of honoring their past family members. Whammo – grief widow wave outta nowhere. I have to find a photo of Kris and get it in an 8×10 frame for the wedding? You gotta be kidding me? This rips off the fact that his Dad won’t be there to see his youngest getting married. I am hit with melancholy and profound sadness. I have a really good cry. 

Next up is to pick the song we dance to. We think and reminisce about all of our favorites. We have a wide range of music tastes in our family and loved jamming out to music. We pick out “With Arms Wide Open” by Creed. It was one of our favorites and we thought it would honor Kris so well. We didn’t rehearse because, hey we know how to dance right? It’ll only be a few moments. 

The wedding weekend comes and friends and family from afar come to this occasion. We have little time to really get long visits in but we have dinner and reminisce about good times and memories. A few tears are shed without the kids noticing. Kris isn’t here and it’s obvious. 

The wedding rehearsal comes off without a hitch. The awkward moment of when the toasts and thoughts from the parents are shared. I share my thoughts and acknowledge the elephant in the room of his missing Dad with a wobbly voice. Bill, my husband and their stepdad, rehearsed and agonized over what to say. I was a blubbering mess and only remember he gave a beautiful and thoughtful toast. 

The wedding day arrives.It was a beautiful ceremony. It was so amazing to celebrate with so many friends and family. I zip past the memorial table and gulp – yup, There’s Kris’s photo – wish you were here dude, this is hard without you. I don’t look at it again, I just can’t. 

The time for the groom and mother dance arrives and we start to dance. The song was supposed to be the shorter version, no more than a few minutes. We start the dance and the song breaks us both up. First silent tears, then outright sobbing. Loud sobbing. I’m thinking this is awful, I don’t want to ruin the day with this sort of breakdown in the middle of the dance floor on my son’s happiest day. We keep dancing and holy cow, the dang DJ plays the longest version we’ve ever heard. We look out to the audience and the entire room is tearing up and crying. I make the cut-it motions to the DJ. Nope the dang song just continues. Today, we joke about the awful mother groom dance and laugh about it. 

Writing this still tears me up. It was so so hard to be the mom and not have Dad there. That day was a beautiful wonderful day filled with bittersweet sadness. 

When it comes time for a wedding with no parent, there is no right or wrong way to do this. Married or still widowed it may be a grief struggle. Take good care of you and show up the best way you can for your child. The point is it’s their day for celebration and happiness. Even if you struggle with it, having a memorial table is a great way to honor your loved one not being there. 

Please contact us and let us know of any particular grief struggles or topics you’d like us to explore. We appreciate your support and input. 

Peace & blessings,
Jeni & Teresa

PS: For additional support, you can download our free copy of 10 Ways to Move Forward After Loss

Torn in Half: The First Days as a resource for the first days after a loss – available on Amazon in paperback and ebook.

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