Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Thousand Little Deaths

This is not a blog I want to write.

It's about loss and grief and that one little word that no one ever wants to talk about:  divorce.

But I'm gonna write because I'm tired of the thinking about it that surrounds me.  That something must be wrong with you and your family if you're divorced, that it's a taboo topic and seems to make so many people feel so uncomfortable. And that a divorced family is somehow a 'broken' family.  I'm tired of the "I'm sorrys," the weird silences and the awkwardness that everyone but me feels.

In no way am I praising divorce.  I wouldn't wish it on anyone.  It's the worst experience I've ever been through next to the deaths of my father, grandparents, and young cousin.  It's like a death, though, but no one died.  I guess the marriage died, but because we have kids, we see each other daily, so it almost makes no sense to refer to it as a death.

It's more like a thousand little ones.

And that's what makes it so tough.  It's the simple things.  The goodbye at morning school drop-off knowing dad is picking up the children and I won't see them until tomorrow.   Saturday morning breakfast that they always share with dad but not me.  Sunday night dinner always with me but not with their dad.  Although I must say my ex and I have an 'open-door' policy, keys to each other's homes, and  open arms when it comes to sharing meals or coming to see the kids any day, any hour.

It's the fact that my last name is different now than theirs.  When I fill out forms, I have to check 'divorced' and fill out two addresses for two parents in two different homes.  It's not knowing who will be my emergency contact and who to write as the kids' emergency contact:  me or him?  It's the toys and clothes that stay at my house and those that stay at his house.  The artwork they bring home from school - does it stay with mom or stay with dad?

I wish this had never happened.  And we fought like hell to stay together.  But staying together was hurting everyone, including the children.  The reasons it happened are between me and my ex-husband and, frankly, are no one else's business despite the people who rudely and hurtfully made it their business by gossiping, spreading rumor, and relentlessly sticking their nose in where it doesn't belong.

The fact is, half of all American children will witness the breakup of a parent's marriage.  So what is normal?  A traditional family with mom and dad in the same house?  Or is it the other way around?  I don't really care what normal is.  But I do care that my children are happy and healthy.  That I am happy and healthy.  That my ex is happy and healthy.  He is now a dear friend to me, and for that, I am grateful.  We have spent the better part of two years transforming a failed marriage into a friendship with the main goal of raising our two beautiful children.  They are much healthier and so are we.  This is a good thing, right?

But then one of the little deaths rips my heart out.  My daughter kissing me on the cheek saying "I'll miss you this weekend mommy, and I'll see you Sunday." The mail I receive addressed to 'Mrs. Dawn Jones.' (and am I 'Miss' now or 'Ms.'?? - oh the details!)

I keep thinking that these thousand little deaths must be preparing me for something bigger.  The day they drive off alone for the first time at age 16, the day they leave for college, the day they no longer need me in the way they do now. But I'm not sure it will ever be easy.  I once read a beautiful quote that goes something like "don't pray for an easy life, pray to be a stronger person."

So that's what I'm doing.  Fighting daily to see the blessings, which are constant.  With a knowing in my heart that this is how it is supposed to be for me, for my family (and yes, we are still a family) and learning to live it with grace and in peace rather than with grief and sadness.

((Now.  I know I'm not alone out there.  So share with me and let's find a way to support each other!))


  1. Hi Dawn! I too was a "divorced" parent when my Daughter was age 9-18. And you are right, it seems like someone died. It can be difficult at times, but looking back, my Daughter and I had great times and less stress in the house. Keep your head held high and keep smiling that beautiful smile! Oh yeah....hug those kiddies for me!
    Leda Royer

  2. Dawn,

    I was a witness to the breakup of my own mother and father when I was in 6th grade. I decided that I was a "one and done" girl but that didn't work out. I am now divorced and my daughter is a happy well adjusted child. I left my ex when she was 3, she is now 12. Her father lives three thousand miles away and is one of the "bad" fathers. He doesn't call or write. He got remarried and my daughter found out about it from me because I read a comment on Facebook from my ex-sister-in-law.
    You are truly blessed to have someone that works with you and is involved despite the marriage not working out. I understand the struggle of trying to figure out what may have gone wrong.
    I have noticed that people do treat you differently when you say "I'm divorced."
    But, I would not trade staying in a relationship that was emotionally and mentally destructive for the relationship I have built with my daughter! The best thing at the end of my day is a hug from her.
    You are surely not alone! There are plenty of us out here to help keep you upright on a bad day!

  3. Divorce is something that is difficult for some to speak of simply because they either have not gone through it themselves, or are avoiding the inevitable. With that said I witnessed the crumble of my marriage in 2005, and my parents divorce in 2005. Sadly in there life took an even more devastating turn when a licensed day care professional murdered my daughter as I was a single mom working. Life shattered into a million jagged little pieces all within 4 months, however I held true to my heart in believing there were huge obstacles to face, but as soon as I walked through the fire with God in my heart, he would help me through the burning coals left for me to walk on. Almost 8 years later this April 14, I was given a second chance to love with all my heart, and will celebrate our one year wedding anniversary March 10th. Not everything happens for a reason, however we become the person we hope to be in the future because of the reasoning for our situations. May you hold truth in your heart to know love comes again when God brings them to us, forgiveness happens when we move out of the way and allow God to do the work that needs to be done in our lives. My daughter passed away April 14, 2005, and my now husband's birthday is April 14. Watch the street signs of live, one can be very amazed where you can go. All my best.

  4. Divorce, Hope and the Ladies Home Journal!

    Dawn, I sincerely appreciate the fact that you are able to share your story and expose your experiences with divorce. I can only imagine the challenges associated with being a public figure such as you are. Adding divorce to the mix can’t be easy. I am happy that you and your children are well and your family is working through this the best way possible.

    The story I am about to tell may seem a bit odd but it’s true.

    I saw you for the first time at school during the early weeks of the Fall of 2011 as you were dropping your son off in the 4 yr. old's classroom. At first glance I noticed “you”, not “Dawn Scott”, then on the second glance I recognized who you were………Fast forward several weeks and as I was walking my girls inside I noticed you again but this time it was different! You seemed stressed, hurt, angry and generally upset. You were talking to a friend and in that brief moment I felt like something was wrong and I became concerned. Days and weeks would pass and I would catch an occasional glimpse of you and each time you seemed distracted and hurt.

    I didn’t and still don’t know you but I wanted to help, I wanted to reach out and tell you it would be ok, that this too shall pass, I wanted to give you a smile, a hug or a friendly note but I wouldn’t dare. All I could do was say a prayer to ask for happier days for you and your family.

    I recognized the hurt you were going through as I was having a very similar experience.

    I too have recently experienced a divorce and like you so eloquently state, it really is like a thousand little deaths. My concerns since the beginning have been for my daughters, ages 6 and 5 and how this experience has and will affect them……..Well, I have great news! The death of my marriage has proven to have little effect on my daughters! Praise God! These two angels have been very resilient and understanding and are very well adjusted. I firmly believe that God shields the innocent and for this I am forever thankful.

    As each day passes and life progresses I can’t help but become more hopeful and thankful for my future and for the future of my daughters. I spend my days working, evenings caring for the girls and nights thinking and planning for their future. Somewhere in that mix I believe I will find a new and different future and a new path to happier days. In the meantime I’ll play a little beach music, hike a trail, get some fresh air and clear my mind.

    If you’ve gotten this far, I suppose you might be curious about the Ladies Home Journal……My mom has been incredibly supportive during this ordeal so shortly after the divorce and the re-allocation of family property, my mom felt like I needed some decorating tips so she sent me a subscription to Architectural Digest……………so on Monday of this week, I open the mailbox to find a copy of Ladies Home Journal addressed to me! I guess I should ask her what she’s suggesting now but I’m sure she has a good reason. I’ll just say thanks.

    Have a great day and an even better and happier future. This too shall pass and the future will become whatever you make of it.

    Jon Moore

  5. Well said, Dawn. My divorce was the hardest thing that ever happened to me. The years since have taken me from that low point to some of the best times I've ever had. I don't know if those "little deaths" ever totally go away, but I've noticed that the "little joys" have started outnumbering them more and more.

    Best of luck to you and yours.

  6. I agree with you. Divorce is really hard to cope with, especially if you have children. It’s hard to see them in the morning knowing that they will not come home because their dad will pick them up. It’s heartbreaking, but on the good side, you got a fair share on their custody and that what matters most. Be strong.

    Lynette @

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