Bobby Atwal

I met Natasha on a Canadian government funded academic trip to India in 1999.  I was immediately mesmerized by her; unfortunately, she thought I was rude and obnoxious because I was constantly challenging all of our professors on everything.  I was the big, brown, activist from Canada who loved to stomp on traditional Indian culture.  Luckily, once I stopped pursuing Natasha, friendship allowed her to really see more than just the alienated brown kid from Vancouver Island, Canada. 

In 2009, we got married and bought a house together and our daughter came along.  Anisha was born on December 12, 2012, yes that’s right, she was born on 12/12/12!  Her name means born at the end of darkness as she was to bring so  much joy and hope being the first grandchild on both sides of the family.  Unfortunately, Natasha had post-partum depression from the beginning and then everything got much worse—her mother suffered a major stroke.  Then, about eight months later, my mother-in-law passed away and my wife started feeling sick.  At first we thought it was just grief and post-partum depression, but eventually she was diagnosed with cancer.  The diagnoses meant selling our home in order to cover medical expenses.  Natasha, her brother and I fought hard and researched all kinds of therapies, but after a year of fighting she slipped away on January 23, 2015.

Now, almost four years later, my daughter and I are doing better each day.  I was so incredibly worried that Anisha would constantly miss her mother, but she doesn’t miss her the way I do.  She was only two when Natasha died, so Anisha remembers almost nothing of her mother aside from the pictures and videos on Daddy’s phone.

Anisha and I talk very, very openly about her mother passing away.  Interestingly, she is much  more comfortable with her mother’s death than most adults around us.  I know most people around me are tired of the topic of missing Natasha and her mom which is why I sought out this great community of support. 

I look forward to connecting with all of you! 

  • commented on Call Me Anytime 2019-07-01 20:35:14 -0700
    Great topic! I just started watching that show last night. I wish I had a community like that. I thought after 6 months on this site I would have found someone to relate to. You are very lucky.

  • commented on "By Now..." 2019-05-26 16:51:02 -0700
    Wow, thank you for sharing! I can really related to the part about not knowing what to do with yourself now that the grief is lessening. I have been grieving so long that it feels weird not to be so grief focussed.

  • commented on Complex Holidays 2019-05-16 10:07:12 -0700
    This is an amazing piece of sharing! Losing my wife and mother-in-law has made Mother’s Day a constant reminder for me and my daughter. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • commented on Accepting Fear 2019-03-12 14:29:14 -0700
    Thank you for this. I also know what it means to fear the death of more loved ones. Every time my daughter get sick, I feel this fear that comes up and I have to remind myself that just because her grandmother and mother died of cancer, it doesn’t mean that my daughter also will get cancer too.

  • commented on Time Change 2019-03-12 14:21:44 -0700
    Thank you so much! Your passion, honesty and insights are very, very helpful, not mention that you are a very good writer.

  • commented on #howisoar - Susan Hannifin MacNab 2018-06-19 11:31:47 -0700
    What an inspiring story!

    I am also a single parent and have had numerous rises and falls. Shortly after my wife’s death, we had to move and find daycare. I rose up when I found a daycare, but then fell down when the daycare started making sexist comments about a man raising a baby girl. I rose up when I found an apartment for us, but then fell down when I realized I can no longer teach in a classroom since my vision has deteriorated. I also fell down when I realized most people are afraid to discuss death, but then I rose up when I went through 2 psychiatrists, 4 counsellors and 2 support groups.

    Lately, I have been trying to figure out how I can work from home—which definitely feels like I am falling, but 3 things make me feel like I am rising again: my daughter finishing kindergarten, my wellness plan and joining Soaring Spirits.

    Thank you for sharing.


  • commented on Single Seat 2018-06-15 14:05:15 -0700
    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I too understand the concept of sitting alone and not fitting neatly into a box.

    A month after my daughter’s second birthday, my wife died from cancer at the ‘old’ age of 38. I am usually the only man with a baby surrounded by moms at the park, grocery stores and on the bus. Yes, men are doing a lot more baby care these days, but it is still predominately women who do the childcare.

    My daughter is 5 now and doing great, but one of the hardest parts of baby care is that most businesses have a change table ONLY in the women’s bathroom. However, by far, the most challenging thing is happy, cheerful two parent families—the reminder of what we’ve lost. Sometimes I avoid them because it is just easier, especially when they start talking about how hard childcare is for them. I have never done it, but I think about saying “are you kidding me, at least there are two of you!”

    I know it is not healthy to dwell on what you have lost, but there are reminders everywhere for me. Like when I take her to an amusement park, and as we are standing in line, two parent families keep separating and then budging ahead of us. One parent stands in line, the other parent takes the kids for food or to the bathroom, and then just as my daughter and I think we are next, the rest of the family appears and push us back—the most annoying part is that if I say anything, everyone thinks I am the crazy one ruining their good time. Then, of course, I have to announce that my wife died recently, and the I am single father trying to do his best.

    Sometimes, I think it would be easier to wear a t-shirt that says, “Before opening mouth, please give widowed single dad a break.” The absolute worst interactions are mothers who think, “this dad doesn’t know what he’s doing, so I better help.” Luckily, most mothers are great, but there’s a small percentage that feel the need to impose their parenting style on to us and they just can’t stop talking—even if I calming, and politely tell them I appreciate the ‘help’ but we doing fine.

    So, yes, I understand the idea of reminders of what we’ve lost. Even though most people praise gender equality, many of those same people can’t believe a man can raise a little girl.

    Thanks again for sharing.