What is in a Name?

Many widows and widowers face the criticism of others after a spouse’s death, I have seen it many times in support groups. I have also faced criticism. I imagine it is because somebody always needs a scapegoat to project their grief, guilt or anger on to. Now, I am the type of person that will cut my losses and do so relatively quietly. If someone has a problem with me and are speaking behind a keyboard instead of directly to me, then it tells me that I was never respected enough to carry on a conversation with nor was our relationship important enough to salvage. Fair enough, I can walk away most of the time with no problem and let these people have their opinions. Whatever makes them feel better.

However, there are a certain few that are emotionally destitute and they keep trying to insult me and my children by insinuating that we do not deserve my married name of Kehnt. It is a last-ditch effort to hurt me for walking away and maintaining appropriate boundaries instead of being a doormat. Perhaps when they say phrases like, “she will only end up with her five letter name” or “Kehnt is more than a name”, or “it is only a name change” that I am supposed to remain quiet like these things do not hurt. Maybe I should be as cold as they are, and retaliate with anger. Maybe I should have kept silent like my husband instilled, and let people make fools of themselves. Or maybe I will write about my feelings like I always do because someone else out there is feeling like I am. Some widow or widower is having to justify their marriage.

Anyhow, I realize that people are going to keep saying these things to hurt me, and truly the problem is lying with me and not them. Why does it bother me so much? Maybe because they know that everything I am revolves around the term “family” and because it is so important to me to respect and maintain those relationships when it’s feasible and emotionally healthy.  Now I will admit, my roots are Badalamenti through and through. It is the blood that runs through my veins. Badalamenti is my thought process, my history, the reason why I react in certain ways. I am my mother and father. I am my brothers and sisters. I am my nieces and nephews. They are me. I understand the connections and how they intertwine to make a person whole. I live the Family Systems theory. I am who I am. So, I get the importance of a name.

But I am also a Kehnt.

My kids are also Kehnt.

My husband chose to give me his name by marrying me, and no one else was involved in that decision. The decision was never forced upon him, he chose me and we took a great deal of time to solidify our bond prior to marriage. My husband chose another son and also begun the process for that child to have his name through adoption. That son chose to honor his father, and carried through with the name change process. That son will be a Kehnt for the rest of his life. He will give his kids and wife the name Kehnt, because he loved that man that much. Nobody but them two, were involved in that decision. My husband wanted a little girl to have his name. Nobody but us was involved in the decision to biologically create another baby. I know these things and they are the God’s honest truth, so why does it bother me still?


The fact of the matter is that my relationship was short-lived. It was no fault of either my husband or myself, but a lady who couldn’t look before turning her vehicle. We had five years together and only married 18 months legally. Hardly enough time to set our own roots. I know the importance of time when it comes to the family establishment, and we were robbed of our ability to follow through on our own traditions and heritage. We had too little time to mesh our family histories together, and share it with our mutual children. We have too little memories, and our daughter has none. We were supposed to have 50 years of marriage, arguments, love, memories, child-rearing, grandchildren, history, roots. We didn’t get it.

So yes. I take offense to these comments, but it isn’t because the people stating it are worthy of emotional harm merely to further solidify roots.  My husband is enough to do that. Honoring my husband and my children’s father is enough to show the worthiness of our name. The three of us who remain true to that man is enough because we continue to keep his memory alive. The three of us were chosen by him, just like his first family. It is cruel to dismiss the family he chose last because of decisions I carried through on. The decisions he made, the man with the name. It is dishonorable to make horrendous comments in the face of those who are clearly hurting over the person we all shared. It is even worse that the man was forced to leave people behind who feel they have to defend our choices because time wasn’t on our side. I know these people are waiting for a hostile defense out of me. I know they are waiting for me to react angrily, but I won’t do that because I realize the importance of maintaining an honorable name. I know the importance of keeping love and respect alive for him. I know the importance of reacting with dignity and grace, it is why he married me and gave me the name.pexels-photo.jpg


2 thoughts on “What is in a Name?”

  1. My husband died 5 years ago after 20 years of marriage. Just recently someone asked me why I kept my name. It’s MY NAME!! I have carried it longer than my own birth name. It’s who I am. Why wouldn’t I ? He had no children born to him, but raised my 2 as his own and they will tell you very quickly that he is their father. Our first grandchild bears his name. Thankfully, his family is still my family.


    1. How awful Joyce!! Even after 20 years, someone had the audacity to tell you that?! It infuriates me, and that is why this type of post was so important to me. I don’t care how long you are married, your name was given to you by someone you loved. It is absurd for someone to insinuate that going to back to your maiden name would be the right move. I am sorry you had to hear that stupidity.


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