The most important belief I have as a single parent is that the future is bright. Irrespective of what’s brought me to single parenthood, I know that one day, I’ll be dancing to life again. I know that the challenges I face will ebb and flow and I will find the strength within to face them. I will rediscover my resourcefulness and I will come to accept that I am enough and that I can do this!

As a single parent, I can dance to life again. As my children grow up, I grow and evolve beside them. I discovered what works for us and what contributes to my success at single parenting.


Dancing Solo


My journey as a single parent began when my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. As the disease progressed, I became the captain of the ship, while caring for him and our three children. I watched him go from being strong and energetic to fading away and eventually dying. He was just 44-years-old. Too young and too soon. I remember holding him the day before he died. He told me to keep on smiling and everything would be okay. And then, he was irrevocably gone. Here one day, gone the next.

Our three beautiful children were just five, seven, and nine years-old-then. I knew it was going to happen. But, when it did, it opened up a void, an emptiness. Sitting, chatting, eating, sleeping: the usual rituals that we all do every day went from being shared to being lonely. It was a lonely time despite the presence of friends and family that supported us. There were times that I expected my husband to walk through the front door or reach out to us for a hug. His physical presence in our house now gone, just like that!

Our children were also trying to process the loss of their father, trying to accept that he was gone. Their wellbeing and needs at that time kept me going. We went to a private crematorium to say our goodbyes and we organised his memorial and gathered with friends and family to celebrate his life. It was all a blur. We learned to love him in his absence, to remember him, and to cherish our memories of the times we shared together.


Taking the First Step


When I married my life partner and created a life together, losing him was not something I ever dreamt of happening. Yet, tragically it happened. But, I am on a new path, beginning a new journey. A journey that I would never have undertaken, if not for the events that shaped our last years together as a family.

Dealing with the loss of my husband and transitioning into single parenthood was something I had to face, and dance to its tune all alone. I did not want to face it at times because it was too overwhelming, scary, heartbreaking, and confusing. What was I going to do? What was the future going to hold for us? How were we going to survive as a family? Should I go back to a job I was doing before I had my children? What about school holidays? So many questions with no clear answers! Those initial years were all about survival and putting one foot in front of the other, day by day.

That all happened in 2011. I ended up working part-time, and then a couple of years later, I started studying. Things got easier and I found myself feeling okay as a single parent, moving through the rhythm, learning new steps, and dancing to its own tune.


Rhythms and Memories


Now, I look back and felt grateful that my husband was in our lives. I remember him with love and affection, for being such an important part of our lives. I remember the happy times, the holidays, and the joys we shared when our children were born and as we immersed ourselves in our family life. His memories live on and the legacy of his life is chronicled in a journal he wrote during his months of cancer treatment. My two older children have already read his journal. I kept it for them to look through whenever they wanted.

When I lost someone dear to me, my perspective on life changed. Even when I knew that life is a gift; it is brought home more clearly when tragedy struck. I realised that life is so valuable, so precious, and so worth living.


Dancing and Living to the Fullest


I have journeyed far from that time. I have a new path that involves discovery and growth. It has led me to become empowered and accountable for my life. It has involved reaching an understanding of who I am as a person, living in line with my values. It is the one that has led me to be a successful single mother; as a woman who is the driver in her own life, and not merely a passenger. I am taking the steps today to create a bright and compelling future, not only for myself but also for my children.

Facing the challenge of losing a loved one has given me a gift: to take action, move on, and thrive despite the setbacks that life threw at me. I know I have the resources within to reshape my life in a resourceful and empowering way and be an influencer and a shining example for my children.

Suzanne Duncan

Suzanne Duncan

Founder at Discovery Within
Suzanne Duncan operates a coaching consultancy, called Discovery Within and she is the author of the recently published book, All by Myself & Rocking It!: How to Be Successful at Single Parenting. Her inspiration to help others, especially single parents, comes from her own very personal awareness of the challenges facing all parents today.
Suzanne Duncan

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