Real Families. Real Hope.
Offer God's hope to hurting families.
Yes, I will help struggling families!

After the Death of a Spouse

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Stephanie Buscema

Suddenly, I was the single father of a 4-year-old Disney princess and a little boy who had just learned to walk.

We look like most other families pouring out of a minivan at the mall. My wife, Rayna, emerges first, chatting with our oldest child, Grace, the social butterfly of the family. Next is Jack, our budding engineer. Bringing up the rear is little Maggie, sporting her ever-present I-didn’t-do-it smile. To an outsider, there is little to distinguish us from other families, but we are a unique puzzle that only God could have put together.

A missing piece

I married my high school sweetheart, Cyndi. Not long after, she gave birth to Grace. Two years later, we adopted Jack. Life was full of sippy cups, diapers and car seats — and it was good.

In February of 2002, Cyndi died of a heart attack after a long fight with cancer. Our family was turned upside down. Suddenly, I was the single father of a 4-year-old Disney princess and a little boy who had just learned to walk. We moved through life together — the meals, the playdates, the tears — every day reminded of what was missing in our family.

Blending our family

Two years after Cyndi’s death, I met Rayna, and I was soon surprised to discover that I’d fallen head-over-heels in love. Rayna was beautiful and sweet, and she knew how to make meals that weren’t limited to carrot sticks and cheese tortillas. If ever God had given me a gift, it was Rayna, and I married her before she had time to change her mind.

We felt that God had brought us together, that something redemptive and powerful was happening. But blending a family after the death of a spouse is not easy, especially when it comes to parenting. The kids were confused. Suddenly, Rayna wasn’t the fun friend who would show up to carve pumpkins and eat ice cream. Now she was asking them to go to bed and clean up their rooms.

Gentle validation

Rayna recognized the confusion, so she intentionally changed her tone when interacting with the children. “I know you’re not used to this,” she would say. I watched, amazed, as her gentle approach and acknowledgement of the new environment validated the kids’ feelings and helped ease the transition.

Spouses entering a blended family are faced with an abundance of awkward social interactions. “So, what’s it like being the second mom?” “Do you think you’ll ever have kids of your own?” Rayna graciously endured the questions, but I saw clearly the need to love and honor my wife in public. I even tried to pre-empt the awkward questions, affirming Rayna’s role in our family. She was the mom; she was the wife.

Honoring the past

As our new family grew together, Rayna and I knew we needed to honor the children’s past, too. For families brought together after the death of a spouse, this can be a tricky tightrope to walk. To help the kids remember Cyndi even as they embraced Rayna, we decided it would be good for them to keep pictures of Cyndi. I shared stories of Cyndi, telling Rayna how much Cyndi would have loved her, telling the kids how proud their mother would have been. We also included Cyndi’s family in many of the kids’ events. Over time, the kids appreciated the heritage of faith Cyndi had begun and were grateful for the role Rayna now played in their lives.

Blending our family after Cyndi’s death was a process of allowing God to put the pieces together. And God added another piece to the puzzle when Rayna gave birth to Maggie. Now we are the proud parents of three first-borns. What a wonderfully complex and beautiful puzzle.

Dynamic CTA Template Below

Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.
Book Cover: Aftershock A Plan for Recovery

Aftershock: Overcoming His Secret Life with Pornography: A Plan for Recovery

This book is for women who have discovered their husband’s struggle with pornography and other sexual infidelities. Based on biblical principles and psychologically sound advice, Aftershock is designed to help women heal, grow, and receive restoration for themselves, their husbands, and their marriages.

That the World May Know

Join renowned teacher and historian Ray Vander Laan as he guides you through the lands of the Bible. In each lesson, Vander Laan illuminates the historical, geographical, and cultural context of the sacred Scriptures. Filmed on location in the Middle East, the That the World May Know ® film series will transform your understanding of God and challenge you to be a true follower of Jesus.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

You May Also Like