• Room of child of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    What Not to Say

    Teachers, We Hear You

    My kids’ online lessons started a week before I began teaching, as we are in different school systems. So I had an entire week to observe their teachers without the distraction of my own students. What I realized was this: parents are listening to everything. As a teacher myself, I don’t fault their teachers for a lot of the mistakes they make because I know I make them myself. (I also didn’t properly set up my breakout rooms and wasted all sorts of class time on the first day. I feel for you, 6th grade teacher!) I can’t imagine trying to teach any children younger than seven and actually keeping…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley holds son Austin with daughter Claire in hospital
    What Not to Say

    Why Widows Always Think About Death

    If you want to believe that you’ll live forever, do not get into a conversation with a young widow. To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever been able to get through a whole discussion with another young widow without talking about death. Even the young widows who are my closest friends – the ones who I talk to about mundane daily events on a regular basis – even with them, pretty much every conversation of any length will inevitably include at least a brief conversation about death or dying. I don’t try to have these conversations with my widow friends. It just happens. I guess it’s because at this…

  • Son of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley as a baby
    What Not to Say

    You’re Not Crazy. You’re Grieving.

    As I type this, Tommy is in timeout for hitting his brother. He’s six, so I don’t think he’s going to turn into a bank robber just because he hit his brother. But in our house, actions have consequences. (Or at least I try to make it that way. I’m no perfect parent and I am not necessarily consistent with enforcing consequences. I’m just doing my best, like all single moms. But I digress.) My kids know that hitting is not okay, and an acceptable defense is not “but I was mad at him!” When they use this line of reasoning (which is common), I say, “it’s okay to feel…

  • Manicured lawn similar to that at party attended by DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    What Not to Say

    It’s Not Something You Can Catch

    I was at a party a while back and I met a group of single people. The host introduced me to them after I mentioned the difficulty of meeting people outside my circle of (mostly married) friends. Everyone was kind (though no one shook hands, because even though it was February, we were still being cautious – you didn’t know what you could catch!) and we started chatting about nothing. Eventually, people started sharing stories of how they’d met each other, and a couple of them talked about getting divorced and finding support in other divorced people. They could share stories with each other, and also commiserate about parenting. I…

  • Arms in washing machine like that of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    What Not to Say

    Tough Love

    I read a lot of things about grief, much of it online. There are some really great websites that deal with grief (like Modern Loss) and also a ton of Facebook/Reddit/Instagram/Twitter resources and forums. In a lot of these places, people come together to say something like, “I lost a person I love and cry every day. How did other people cope?” I almost never post in these forums. I love that there are places on the internet where people can go for support, but I would rather rely on the support I get from my blog readers and my in-person friends and family. Sometimes I do post an encouraging…

  • Hands holding newspaper like that written by DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    What Not to Say

    Trigger Warning

    Last week, I wrote this piece for the Washington Post on how parents can help children who are grieving. In case you haven’t read it yet, I introduced the piece by talking about how Claire was really missing her dad last summer at the pool, and then I discussed what experts say parents should do in similar situations. I did not describe Shawn’s illness or death at all. I posted the article in an online group, thinking maybe others would want to read it. Also, I was genuinely proud of the work I did and wanted to share it. A few hours later, I saw that someone had replied to…