Q. My first grandchild was just born – 13 months after my husband died. He desperately wanted a granddaughter, and it hurts that he can’t share my joy at her arrival. How do you cope with this aspect of loss?

Sharing any kind of good news magnifies the pleasure, especially when the other person is just as invested in the event (and feels as deeply about it) as you do. When the happy news involves a new life, continuity, and hope for the future, it’s an incomparable experience for the entire family. Of course you’re going to miss your late husband terribly at a time like this. One widow told me she felt the loss most acutely just after her grandchild was delivered. “That’s when we all thought, ‘Tim should be here, too,’” she recalls. It helped enormously that her sister-in-law called the next day to say, “You know the baby was born on Tim’s mother’s birthday.” The symbolism touched her deeply and helped her focus on the promise ahead. In the weeks that followed, she fit right into her new role as a grandmother.

In my own life, there are so many times when I have an experience that my late husband would have appreciated. I’ll think (or even say out loud), “You would have loved this.” I imagine his reaction and smile. Sometimes I talk to the picture of him that I keep in my bedroom, especially when the subject is my own grandchildren (who range in age from five months old to almost three). I can brag shamelessly to him about how beautiful and brilliant these babies are because he’d feel the same way I do. For similar reasons, I also find it helpful to trade anecdotes about our extraordinary grandchildren with my daughter-in-law’s mother.     


Another option is to “write a letter” to your late husband.  Sharing your thoughts and feelings on paper at times may help you feel less alone. It usually works for me.


Most important, try to concentrate on the meaning and fun your grandchild adds to your life instead of getting stuck on the sadness of your husband’s absence. Think about the people who truly care about you and are happy for you. Maybe give them a call. No, it isn’t a perfect answer – nothing is – but it can make a difference.


If you have a question for Florence, please email her at fisaacs@florenceisaacs.com.


Florence Isaacs is a freelance journalist, author—and a widow herself. Her books include My Deepest Sympathies, When the Man You Love Is Ill and Just a Note to Say...The Perfect Words for Every Occasion 



Image: Flickr Creative Commons/juhansonin


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Comment by cindy j cox on November 13, 2012 at 2:38pm

One more thing I wanted to add. On the subject of babies.My son has been with this woman for many years. The day that my husband passed almost to the exact minute of my husbands passing her daughter had a baby girl.Kind of made that a bittersweet moment in time..While one family was celebrating a new life another family was mourning the loss of our loved one..

Comment by cindy j cox on November 13, 2012 at 2:34pm

I know this is a little late, but I'm new here and was just reading some of the blogs.My husband passed 8 weeks ago yesterday.I kept my husband's e-mail account active. So I e-mail him.Every week on the day he passed I send him an e-mail. Makes me feel a little better, but it is something I feel keeps me connected to him and it is private.At first it felt strange but now it is something that I need to do.Good luck to all who is suffering a loss..

Comment by Florence Isaacs on January 16, 2012 at 9:59am

I wish you so much joy with your soon-to-be new grandson.  Babies are so healing.  I find it helps me to talk to my older grandson, almost 3, about his grandpa and to show him pictures.  I'm not sure how much he understands yet, but he does listen and look at the photos.  I want to keep my husband's memory alive with the grandchildren, yet without overdoing it. 

Comment by brenda robinson on January 13, 2012 at 12:03pm

Im getting ready to go through this same thing as I lost my Husband soon to be 7 months ago and we are to get our first Grandson in feb, Life can be so unfair he would have been such a proud papaw. We have 2 Granddaughters and they were the light of his life but to miss his first Grandson is so hard. The pain is still so hard to deal with right now I miss him so much we meet in my freshman year of high school and married in my Senior year 33 years ago. It is so Lonely here with out him. I hope you are doing better and Congrats on that new one! :)

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