Rob the Uber driver is right, we need to talk about grief

Late on a Tuesday afternoon I was collected by Rob, the Uber driver, and whisked off to the Sydney Airport.

As was my wont, I immediately started chatting to Rob. Our conversation soon turned to living without children, after I said I was in Sydney visiting our youngest child, who has left his home town of Adelaide to study in Sydney.

Rob asked me how I had adapted to life without a teen in the house; he was interested because he didn’t get to see his 17-year-old daughter much anymore – well not since the divorce.

Rob and his wife separated a few years ago and he didn’t get to see his daughter for about 2 years. His ex-wife used her family’s money to pay legal fees to keep Rob away. He said it was a terrible couple of years. Rob now gets to spend time with his daughter and he has worked hard to restore their relationship but he is still sore and bruised from the drawn out legal proceedings.

He said that some of his friends say that it will be easier when his daughter becomes an adult. I said that I have worked most of my life in and around family law and I think his friends are right. I have constantly told my clients over the years that for whatever reason are not seeing their children to buy birthday and Christmas presents every year. That if, one day, their child seeks them out, they will have the evidence that they have been thinking about them constantly. That they did care.

I said it’s hard for teenage children of separated parents. They often side with one parent – it makes them feel safe. It’s less stressful for them. But when they become young adults and they start needing to know who they are and where they came from; they often seek out the other parent – that other half of their DNA.

Rob said that he has sent a smiley face via Messenger to his daughter every day since they separated. I said that is a lovely way to let her know that you care about her without being intrusive. He said she says she is going to come and see me this weekend. He said I don’t get too excited because I know something better might come along… but that’s ok. I said it’s terrific that she has even factored you into her weekend.

Rob said you know it’s really important that we talk about this stuff. I agreed. He said as soon as I drop you off at airport, I am going to ring my daughter and tell her that I love her.  He said she might be too busy to take the call… but I’m going to call her anyway.

– Kate

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