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Thanks to GrandpaRalph, I realized that I never have de-lurked and introduced myself here:

I'm a 44-year-old father of two (Brandon @ 5-1/2 years and Kayla @ 7-1/2 years) in Southern California. I was widowed almost 5 years ago when my wife, Holly, died from an enlarged heart that went undiscovered despite having recently having brain surgery to remove a golf ball size tumor from between her pituitary gland and brain stem nine month prior. The tumor and operation left her metabolically debilitated which required regular doctor visits to try to regulate the hormone imbalances. So I am galled that the enlarged heart wasn't detected, but torn by wondering if it was more graceful that she didn't know of her imminent mortality. The only solution would've been a heart transplant that I question if she would've survived; assuming a donor heart could be found. But this is one of many "what if's" that I can never answer.

Unfortunately, I don't think that any of us can avoid having to walk through the mind-numbing experience of playing out numerous "what if" scenarios along with the self-floggings of sundry regrets. It's all part of this damn grief process that can only be deferred, but not avoided. And that is why I'm still monitoring grieving related boards.
I look at it as an analogy of being on a submarine. I can enjoy the sunshine on deck, but know that I have someplace to safely go when my world goes underwater.

It has also helped me immensely to have adopted a "no rules / no schedule" approach to dealing with grief. I deal with whatever is burning my butt and defer all others to keep things from becoming overwhelming.

Things have also been easier as a result of a LBYM lifestyle for many years before losing my wife. I did return to work for over a year (create no major changes for at least a year rule), but found that I was bringing work home with me, so the kids were getting shorted even when I was home. Thus for the most part, they were getting reared by a very loving, but relatively immature, day-nanny.
After we got married, Holly was able to quit a job that she hated, but felt guilty of not bringing in any income. I had harped at Holly my importance of having a stay-at-home mom compared to any added income she could generate. So I've had the luxury of being able to now practice my preaching and stay home with the kids. Between SSA survivors' benefits and my savings, I can do this for at least a couple of more years before I need to go back to worrying about building-up more of a retirement nest egg.

I miss having my career and have shattered my illusions of how easy stay-at-home mothers have it. But wouldn't exchange this for all the joy of being able to experience all that most fathers miss while they're at work.

Oh well, I've rambled enough for now. Thanks for taking the time to read this and get to know me a bit.

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