Nine years ago, I was a single mom of a 3 month old and my husband was a single dad of two young boys. We instantly “fell in love”, decided to marry, and *poof* became an instant, loving family…..wrong!
Reality is we knew nothing about actual love, the love described in 1Corinthians 13. We were far from having non-emotional love and loving as an action. Being an instant loving family was a completely unrealistic expectation.
Trying to merge our two families was difficult and a constant struggle. One of our blended family struggles was not something I was prepared for. GRIEF. Our children were grieving, still grieve to this day, and will continue to, on some level, grieve throughout their lifetime. Bear with me here, blended or stepfamilies are created because of the loss of a marriage or because of a death. As children grow and hit different life stages, the grief can and did surface for us.
Through my family’s struggles I have learned this; as a parent/stepparent, when we allow our children the freedom to grieve in healthy ways and provide them with the tools and resources necessary to cope, we encourage communication and healthy memories. We let them know we were ok to hear and they are safe to share.
Practicing this has grown our family and given us a new outlook in blending. Children just need to know we are okay and comfortable with them expressing their thoughts and feelings (and yes, it is difficult, but we cannot take it personally when they miss their parent/old way of life).
1 Corinthians 13 says, “…love is not irritable…”
We cannot allow the children’s grief to hurt our feelings. They will grieve the loss of their previous family, their parent (if lost), and life as they knew it. We cannot take it personally. They need our approval and the permission to grieve in healthy ways. God tells us love is not irritable. True love is unconditional and pure.
Not only have our kids suffered the loss of their old life and a previous marriage, the past couple years have brought some difficult, tragic losses to our family. Through our initial blending experience, faith, counseling, peers, church family, and most of all turning to God, we are tackling grief the way He wants us to. We are living out a 1 Corinthians 13 type of love. We intentionally love each other daily…and that has made all the difference!
For the past nine years we have slowly grown together. Sometimes, love, the kind of love that saves you, takes time. Time to understand, accept, receive and offer. We have made mistakes, succeeded, cried, and we have rejoiced. Each day God keeps our family bonding more and more.