October 10, 2005

In Your Moment of Sorrow

The death of a parent is one of the most traumatic things that can happen to a child. In time, in therapy, in recovery, in love and in grieving, kids can survive it. But that's not why I'm writing this. I'm writing this to tell surviving parents something very important: Watch the people around your children after your spouse dies. It's a catch 22 for you. You need support--you need to grieve. And maybe that's too hard to do because you can't afford to. You can't afford vulnerability at a time when vigilance is due.

People will offer help to you and your children in this time of need. Many of those people will be helpful. But watch for predators because predators watch. And I don't mean wait and see. I mean, expect them.

Predators watch. They watch and wait for moments just like this. They look for prey in distress, the baby zebra who can't keep up, who is slowed, whose senses are dulled by injury, bewildered, the baby who has lost is lost. A predator zeros in on tender flesh, ripe, a flank, a loin, and at the moment when that baby is farthest from the pack, out of reach, separate from the wisdom and protection of the more experienced who know how to zig and zag, he strikes, she strikes.

Widows and widowers, watch your babies.

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