My boys and I spent 10 years as a family with no man in our lives. I divorced their alcoholic father when Connor was 5 and Hunter was 4. It was a struggle, but I lived for my children. I worked hard and we played hard as a family of 3.
When Jeff came into our lives 4 1/2 years ago, my boys were good boys. Not a real problem, but no male in their lives to give them direction. Jeff stepped into that role effortlessly. The boys were starved for the attention and direction he gave them. Jeff demanded respect from the boys, especially when it came to me. As the boys got older, he taught them about fishing and hunting, cars and ratrods, animals and arrowhead hunting. Things that I could never had taught them by myself.
We included the boys in everything we did. Even our honeymoon, Jeff insisted that the boys join us on our cruise to Hawaii. He believed that this should be a celebration of our joining as a family and so the boys should go too. It was an amazing trip that I am happy that the memories are there for the boys. Jeff would tell people there were "his boys" and he loved them very much.
 As the boys have gotten older and more involved in their interests, Jeff began to get ill and so the energy he had was not the same in the end as it was in the beginning.  And when he felt bad, he got irritated easily and frustrated with all of us. Sometimes the words weren't always nice and feelings were hurt. Jeff spent most of his days in our bedroom in bed and if the boys got to visit with him, they would have to come in and see if he was asleep. I know it bothered Jeff that he just wasn't up to the normal interactions.
  When Jeff passed away, Connor and Jeff hadn't spoken for a couple of days. Connor, being 18 but still a Sr in HS, was having those feelings that he should be able to do what he wanted. Smoking was one of them. Jeff and I had grounded him, taken his car away, his phone away, his video games, etc. To show that he was not in charge, just because he turned 18. So, nobody was speaking, they were both very stubborn.
  Neither boy had told Jeff goodnight the night before we had to get up the next day at 3:30am to head to the hospital for his procedure. When I came home the next day with out Jeff, because he had passed away, both boys told me how sad and sorry they were that they didn't tell Jeff goodbye. It breaks my heart that they have to have this feeling of guilt. I just tell them that Jeff loved them very much and let it go.
  Its been a month now. Hunter is very open about his feelings of anger and saddness. He and I have shed many tears together over the past month. It has been good for him to express his feelings with me. Connor on the other hand keeps to himself and has decided to try to be 18 and independent again. So, he and I are struggling. I try to remind myself that he is working through his grief and anger the same and I am, only in a different way. His smoking is a battle again and his grades are falling a bit. He wants to hide and play his video games in his room and nothing else. I have had to take them away during the week while he is in school. I give them back on the weekends, when he doesn't have to work his job.
  Can anyone else relate to the struggles of trying to stay on track yourself, but keep your kids in focus too?
  I have great young men now. I know they have a life ahead of them filled with great joys and experiences. I love my boys and they are who they are today because God brought Jeff into their lives when he did.



Wow, you reminded me of a lot of my own struggles. My 13 year old is the one having the hardest time. He has missed a lot of school since his Dad died. It is always one excuse or another, and my oldest son is here trying to get him out the door in the morning. I just talk a lot to him when I can. Sometimes I am in too much pain to deal with what he is doing. Then I have the counselor at school talk to him. But, I totally understand your statement of struggling to keep yourself on track, but keeping the kids in focus too. I battle this everyday. Some days I do better than others. Good luck and as long as you are aware of what is going on with the kids, I think that is half the battle. -- Dawn

I don\'t have teenagers. My kids are 8, 5, and 4, so I am not able to relate to you in that aspect. I only wish my husband would have been able to be around long enough to do some of those things with our boys. I worry so much about the future and how hard it is going to be to raise 3 teenagers alone. I\'m scared out of my mind.
Your kids sound like great kids! I believe that your oldest will work through this. If he feels guilty just let him know that Jeff knew how much he loved him. I struggle with this myself. My husband was sick for a long time and like yours spent all his time in the bedroom and was easily irritated and frustrated with all of us. In the end I tried to give him some space and tried not to be so clingy. He slept in a hospital bed in our room and I had been sleeping in my daughter\'s room. I told him good night the night before and made sure he had everything he needed before I went to bed. I woke up in the morning and he was gone. There were so many things I wanted to say to him....I wanted to hold him.....wanted him to hold me and the opportunity was just gone! We weren\'t fighting or anything, but I feel like things just didn\'t end right. I know that he loved me though and I know that he knew I loved him. That\'s all that matters.
I am slowly remembering all the good times we had before he was sick and was quick to get rid of things that remind me of when he was sick. His hospital bed was gone days later, his c-pap machine got packed away in the basement, and I just gave his walker away last week. I don\'t want those things around because I want to remember the good times. When he felt good and we had fun.