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Plight Of A Widower

The Early Show: Marc Wieman
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Because so many of Sept. 11's victims came from the male-dominated financial world, most of the grief-stricken single parents are women. But, in the mix, there are men, too -- dozens of them, struggling with unthinkable adjustments and tough new roles.

CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston has the story of one Long Island widower.

Marc Wieman's wife, Mary, was an executive with Aon Corporation.

When the first plane hit Tower One, he says, "I went back to my desk and tried to call Mar and couldn't get through on the land line, left a message on her cell phone. When I was at my desk, the plane hit Tower Two."

Mary worked in Tower Two.

At that point, Wieman left his own office on Water Street downtown and joined thousands fleeing lower Manhattan.

"And, as we were walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, I could hear people screaming, and when I turned around, I saw Two collapse," he says.

Marc is now raising their three children -- Christopher, 13; Allison, 9, and Mary Julia, 7 -- alone.

"My goal from that day to now, has been to keep our lives as close to as it was on Sept. 10 as I could, for the benefit of the children, he explains, adding, "They go to Little League. They go to dance. They...go to friends' houses. They go to school. They do everything that children their age do."

He says, "We don't try and avoid anything. We don't 'not' talk about Mary…The kids are stunning to me, in how well they've handled this."

The youngest, Mary Julia, says that she misses most her mother's "laughter, her hugs, her putting me to bed."

"If we were sad, she was always there to, like, help you," remembers Allison.

Their oldest, Christopher adds, "She would always want to push you ahead."

For anyone, the loss of a spouse is difficult, but grief counselors say men widowed by Sept. 11 face unique challenges.

Vilma Torres, a grief counselor at Safe Horizons, notes, "It's really very difficult because of traditional upbringing of males to be in control, to be confident, the producer...one who can bear the most extraordinary pain and not say ouch."

Safe Horizons has helped hundreds of World Trade Center families with their victims' assistance program.

She says, "We often hear from the male survivor that he's grieving alone. 'I'm keeping it all inside. I'm not telling anybody.'"

Wieman may be an exception to the rule in that he's open about his grief and his family's loss.

The first time Wieman heard Bruce Springsteen's "You're Missing," he says, "I almost had to pull the car over…In three minutes, it sums up what life has been like over the past year. I mean, everything is the same, but everything is different."

He accepts support from his family; his sister, Valerie, has been helpful with many of the girls' needs, and other particulars that he is not quite ready to take on himself such as, "Sports bras and I'm talking about things you're not ready for. You know raising daughters…is difficult and will, I assume, get more difficult as they go from nine and seven to 19 and 17."

He has also learned to appreciate what his wife did before she was gone.

"We've had the normal husband-and-wife fight about who's doing more work and who's not doing more work. And, until she was gone, I didn't realize how much she did. And I'm very sorry about this."

Wieman says he's also learned something about himself. He has learned that he is stronger than he thought he was, but he is still far from finished grieving.