Parents can find themselves single in so many ways and often the most traumatic route is bereavement. How do you cope when a much loved partner dies?
Chris Davies from Dorset has been a widowed parent for almost 7 years:
Names: Chris Davies Profession: Web Manager
Children & ages: Harvey, 12
How did you become a single parent?
I became a single parent in 2007, when my wife Jo died at the age of 32 – four years after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. Harvey was 5 at the time.
How long have you been a single parent?
I have been in solely responsible for Harvey for 7 years. I worked out recently that he’s now been just with me for longer than he was with both parents – so everything is now completely my fault!
What is the most challenging part of the role?
Being both good cop and bad cop. That and the pressure cooker existence that we have – he knows EXACTLY what buttons to press to bring out Shouty Daddy. School holidays always present a challenge – a fulltime job with only 29 days holiday don’t mix well with the school terms. But I have a very close group of friends that I know will always be there to help me during them. I keep an online spreadsheet of who has him and when, and they now book him!
What is the most rewarding?
Watching him develop from a little boy into a young man – and encouraging any of his passions, no matter how fleeting. Roller hockey may have only lasted until I bought all the pads and helmet (anyone want to buy them? Lol) but parkour and guitar are here to stay. In fact, he knows the rules. He has to play the main stage of the Isle of Wight festival by the age of nineteen, or he pays me back all the money for his lessons.
What advice would you give to anyone facing a similar situation?
When I was first widowed, I relied very heavily on the forum and chatroom operated by WAY (Widowed and Young). This is a self help group run by people widowed under the age of 50 – with or without children. Without this communication, I would have been a complete wreck.
What’s been your proudest moment?
I don’t know – as I’m sure it hasn’t happened yet. But so far, it’s going to see his first solo performance in the school’s talent show, when he rocked out in front of 200 people. And next month he is being presented with a certificate for excellence in music – I know that I will cry. I guess it means more to me given that Jo was a music teacher and would have been incredibly proud of his achievements.
What is life like now?
Life is good. I was lucky enough to meet a very lovely lady on the Isle of Wight who had lived through a very similar experience – so is also a widowed parent. We, obviously, have to put of children first – but manage to grab as much time with each other as we can. She pretends I work on an oil rig, and I pretend she is an air hostess – to explain the long absences and distance. Harvey has a very full life, with parkour, guitar and life in his second home (the skatepark). He’s very quickly approaching his teenage years – which I know will be ‘interesting’.
The only thing that I would change is reducing my time at work, in order to be at home when he finishes school – and to spend the school holidays with him (well, somewhere nearby!).
But I do enjoy my job – working as the Web Manager for the hospice that cared for my wife, my son and me.
Chris works for the Weldemar Hospice in Dorset, which provides pallative care to terminally ill patients. The Weldemar Hospice is an independent charity where every donation counts – http://www.weld-hospice.org.uk/