My father’s memorial service has passed. It was a wonderful time of honoring him and God. He was a
Christian, father, grandfather, veteran, engineer, singer, and tenacious volunteer. He was also the husband of three wives—two of which he divorced. And here is where it gets complicated.
The Life Gap
Adults with divorced parents deal with a variety of gaps. Some parents disappear. Other parents and their new loved ones remain part of the family. Some come and go with various characters entering and leaving. Life rolls on until a parent dies.
The service for my father included a 5-minute video that recapped his life. His pastor delivered a fascinating summary of his life’s accomplishments. But both bypassed nearly 50 years of his life. We started with him young and single. Next, he’s married to my stepmother. For my sister and I, it was like watching season one and two of a series and then skipping to season 7 and going from there…and that’s as it should be.
In these settings, the previous spouse(s)—in this case my mother and first stepmother—remain in the background. I get that. We dearly love our stepmom and acknowledge that she is the grieving widow of nearly 25 years of marriage.
But seasons 3 through 6 of our life series include almost 25 yrs with our mother and almost 25 years with my first step mother. Where does that fit?
Grieving the Gap
There’s no memorial for lost years, the pain of what should or could have been, or dealing with stepparents, siblings and the myriad of challenging, frustrating, and sometimes maddening situations. Facebook groups and other social media, blogs, and podcasts can help fill the gap. But in the end, it’s a personal journey adults with divorced parents need to take; ideally before the funeral.
Books like my Choose a Better Path or The Long Way Home by Gary Neuman help identify divorce-related issues that can negatively affect us and our relationships. DivorceCare4Kids helps kids process their divorce-impacted world.
Working through these issues can greatly improve our ability to handle life and death in a healthy way.
Ultimately, I’ve found God has been my strongest help in my 45+ year journey of adapting to new stepmothers. The Bible says, God “heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. (Psalm 147:3) and that we can cast all our cares on him because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Even the least hostile divorces still create wounds. The scriptures act as guiderails to help us deal with the contradictions and gaps of parental divorce in a healthy way.
I was able to love and honor my father because I’ve worked through the wounds. I encourage you to do the same.