As a young widow with children, Abi Shotade walked a painful journey of grief. She hopes the book she has written will help other families facing loss

Abi Shotade

Going to sleep a wife and unknowingly waking up a widow was hugely traumatic and caused me immense grief and sorrow. Overnight, I lost my husband of ten years, the father of my three children and my close friend.

Elijah and I married at 21. We had no money but we had love and a hope for a great future, so in our minds we had everything. We faced many ups and downs together and had three beautiful children. In 2018 we were finally getting to a place where we would be able to rest after all the hard work and sacrifices. A place of hope and excitement for the future.Going to sleep a wife and unknowingly waking up a widow was hugely traumatic and caused me immense grief and sorrow. 

The waves of emotion

I went to work as usual on the morning of 31 August 2018, only to receive a phone call that would change my life. I was told that my husband had been involved in a fatal car crash in the early hours of the morning. I screamed so loudly that everyone in the office came rushing into my meeting room. All I could utter was: “My husband! I want my husband!”. We had so many things left to do together, I was utterly disappointed and deeply wounded.

The hardest part was telling the children that Daddy had died and watch as they processed and grieved. Children grieve deeply, and it’s painful for a parent to see this and not know how to help. I found myself almost wanting to put my grief aside and carry the pain of their grief for them. But this wasn’t possible; we each had to go through the different waves of emotion ourselves.

A comforting dream

More than a year into our grief journey, my son had a dream that Daddy had visited him and taken him on a magical tour of heaven. He recounted everything to me in the morning, and it sounded so beautiful. But there were mixed emotions: sadness because we wished Elijah was still here and comforted because we felt the dream was a message telling us he was OK and that we would meet again.

This dream provided the inspiration for my children’s book, My Sisters Are Not Good at Wrestling. It starts with the main character, E.J, being upset because his sisters never want to play wrestling, which highlights the absence of his father. E.J is comforted by Mum and reminded that we will all meet again. Then Daddy takes him on a tour of heaven, where he some amazing things: Jesus, family members and streets paved with gold and jewels. Then E.J and Daddy part with a goodbye hug, hoping they will meet again.

It is my hope that those who have suffered the loss of a loved one may find some comfort in reading this story, allowing children to process their grief with hope.

Abi Shotade produces the In Every Season podcast.

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