Lots of men and women do this, and have done this, for millenia. Who am I to whine and whinge? Seriously.
I have learned that I can't do this alone. I have learned to ask for help. A lot. At least by my standards. I have learned that my family is more supportive that I ever would have guessed had I not needed them so much these last months.
I have learned that kids grieve on their own schedules, in their own ways, in ways that we may not recognize as grieving. I am learning to worry less, to be more forgiving of them and myself.
I have learned that rejection from some people is a blessing. I have become very, very private. I have given up being the "fixer" for the world, making things okay for the people around me. I can't. They'll have to sort out things for themselves. That doesn't make me a terrible person, or a "bottom feeder" as one person put it.
A few months ago I asked my brother to drive me out to Pedernales Falls state park, so I could walk in solitude along the trails and find a private place to cry and fall apart, where I could feel the love and support of the planet holding me. Many things came to me, sitting on a rock in the sunshine listening to the wind whip the cedar and juniper around me. I felt overwhelmed by everything ahead. So, so much to do, and then the stress of being the sole parent for my children - their sole emotional anchor, financial provider, guidance counselor, guide to life and the world and adulthood and the way to their own individual paths.
A thought entered my mind as I finally rose to leave:
"There is nothing to do but love everyone."
I hold onto this when the overwhelmed feeling comes back. Which it does, in cycles. But I have also learned that it runs itself out and I'm back to feeling my old intrepid self again.
There is nothing to do but love everyone.