Once upon a time, if you were widowed it was assumed you would stay widowed. Your black dresses – or widows weeds, as they were known, were your distinguishing feature and dressing up to encourage allure and admiration from the opposite sex was an unimagined practice.
Good news then, that today widow dating is as commonplace as any other dating experience and along with divorcees and other singles, it is OK to make the first move when you happen to meet another single who takes your fancy.
The interest in widows and widowers preferring to date each other, specifically, has brought about a sharp increase in the use of niche, online dating sites to meet this demand. Time and again we hear that widows and widowers feel more comfortable with those who have also lost a partner. Sharing a common background precludes the need to offer any specific reason as to why you are single and is also a ‘red flag’ that you might still be feeling sensitive about your loss and not wanting to discuss your recent past in any great detail at this moment.
Widow dating can also bring about a welcome relief. Getting to know someone else who has also experienced the loss of a partner and can relate to what you are going through will make those first few dates a lot easier. Sharing stories is an important part of forming new friendships and in the early stages opening up about the need to find fulfilment because you’re missing the closeness of a partner will surely resonate sympathetically with your date.
Making new friends and knowing when to move on will vary significantly from person to person. Moving on too soon can cause more emotional upset if someone you meet, and whom you are attracted to, chooses not to take things further. It is important to understand that everyone has their own criteria about who and what they are looking for in their next relationship, and if as a widow or widower you have decided to start dating again, you do not want to be hurt in the process for the wrong reasons.
That being said, having a reassuring arm on your back when crossing the road or a hand to hold in the cinema is a small action that brings huge comfort. Being part of a couple again can ignite wonderful feelings of ‘belonging’ for men and women and even if not long lived, for whatever reason, will make you more determined to find that special person to share your life with.
Not all relationships will bring romance and lasting friendship, but establishing contact with other widows and widowers will help you to recognize that you’re not alone. Young or old, it is always good to have friends of the opposite sex, even if it’s just for platonic friendship. Widow dating may sound like a scary prospect for some, but if you have patience and determination you will find who you are looking for and the romance will follow.
I became a widow at 29 years old, my husband was murdered while teaching his CrossFit class one evening. This experience was life shattering, to say the least. As a result of his death I experienced a domino effect of other losses – my car, house, job, family, friends… I was basically stripped of everything. Unfortunately, I had to jump into survival mode to make funeral arrangements, handle the closing of the gym, and most importantly to be a “stable” parent for my 2 year old son. A lot of people would compliment me by saying, “You’re so strong!” And honestly, that would make me mad; I really wanted to say, “You have no idea what I’m feeling, and it’s definitely NOT strong.” I know they meant well, but the truth is I was numb and on autopilot. As I continued to journey into the next few months, and even over a year, I accepted the identity people saw and didn’t share how much I was struggling with living. Again, I had experienced so many losses so I was grieving multiple events and the weight was incredibly heavy – so heavy, I couldn’t even find the words. I also, didn’t want my pain to become someone else’s burden, so I kept it all inside for almost two years. It wasn’t until I discovered that I wanted to help others in their grief journey that I realized I wasn’t being authentic about the pain I was feeling. Now, I am helping people not by being overly positive, but by being real.
About 3-4 months after my husband died, I was laying in bed overwhelmed with sadness. Deep in my heart I heard this statement, “Take your pain, turn it into purpose and pay it forward.” I believe I was in so much pain, it resonated with me deeply that I didn’t want anyone else to feel the way I did. At the time, I didn’t know what that meant, but I felt abandoned during the worst time of my life and I didn’t want anyone else to go through grief alone. Over the next year I started to journal what “support” would look like, what actions were helpful or harmful, and what advice would I give not just the griever, but the people around them. We all tend to isolate after any kind of tragedy, but I believe if we had help building resilience and growing through hard times, then it would create a ripple effect of paying it forward to help others. We’re all connected through suffering – grief is universal.
It’s not important, it’s IMPERATIVE to get connected with other widow(er)s. There are things we can’t talk about, or don’t have the words to describe what we are feeling and only other people who are widowed would understand. This journey makes you feel like you are crazy, but really you are just battling an internal conflict between love and loss. Hearing from others who are feeling the same heartache helps break through that isolation which helps you start to rebuild your life again.
Absolutely not! There isn’t enough support because society has created myths about grieving which have become barriers to healing. “Time heals, grieve alone, stay busy….” These myths force us to suppress natural emotions tied to grief, and after awhile that toxicity can start to manifest itself in unhealthy ways for the griever. It’s a vicious cycle. Yes we need more support, but really the ball is in our court. We have to first be vulnerable and authentic, and with that, we have to be willing to educate those around us. People are paralyzed by fear, so if they don’t know what to do or how to offer proper support, then they do nothing. But if we speak up and tell them what we need, solutions can begin to be crafted.
The most rewarding part of the journey is not just hearing and seeing their healing, but always experiencing healing myself. You see, the truth is we never really stop grieving – we just learn to manage the grief differently as life continues. I still have moments where grief consumes me, tears flow uncontrollably, or I get angry – but all of that is okay, and normal! Now I don’t feel shame, or like I have to act “strong”; and by sharing this with others, we are healing and rebuilding ourselves together.
- What one book? Mindset by Carol Dweck
- What one activity? Crying!! it’s so necessary and so cleansing.
- What one quote? “I have two choices: give up or get up.” – that’s my own quote that has helped me in dark times.
- What one piece of advice? There is no rulebook or timeline for grief, just take it one breath at a time.
- What one song/piece of music? Oceans (Where My Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United.
To find out more about Karen, visit www.thegriefconsultant.com
The New Year is officially in full swing and although there’s nothing written that says this is the only time for making changes, it is a good focal point for reappraising your successes and failures of the past year. If there have been success stories during the last twelve months, then you should congratulate yourself. Any failures? Forget them, and move on.
New Year’s resolutions are usually associated with quitting smoking, losing weight or cutting down on alcohol, etc., but while all of these are worthy causes, they can be hugely difficult to achieve. I’m a great believer in taking things slowly – or in small steps, if you like, and have always had more success when I do things this way. Factors like smoking or being overweight are not to be ignored, of course, but listing some things that are important, but perhaps easier to control, will give you a head start. This approach will be paving the way for greater achievements as you go along.
Aspiring to make small changes that will improve your way of life can be implemented in many ways: for example, walking to the next bus stop to enhance fitness, cutting out at least one of the bad things you know you shouldn’t eat or introducing a smile into the process when you thank someone. Also, making a daily ‘to do’ list and sticking to it can be very productive and it’s always great ‘ticking things off’.
Now is also a good time to look at your social life and ask yourself if there is room for improvement? Deciding to try something completely different is a good way to meet new people and to discover hidden qualities and talents.
Having family and good friends in our lives is important and the start of a new year is the ideal time to seek out those we haven’t seen for a long while. Conversely, if there are people in your life who drag you down or leave you feeling unexceptional, then maybe another resolution is to gently phase them out.
As a widowed single reflecting upon the holiday season, you may have had well-meaning friends or family asking if you have dated anyone yet. This is always an awkward question – especially if you haven’t – but you shouldn’t feel pressured. However, if you have had the occasional moment when the thought of sharing your life again seems tempting, you might want to explore the possibility of meeting someone online.
Joining a dating website is easier than you might think and gives you the opportunity to get to know other singles while maintaining an element of privacy. Once you have completed your profile, the next step is up to you. Look at the profiles of your fellow singles and if anyone sounds interesting, send them a message.
Be excited; taking this step could change the rest of your life! There are no hard and fast rules about how long you take to make a connection, if at all, and remember, it is intended to be a positive experience and one that should bring you friendship and hopefully, romance!
Exploring new ideas and resources will be rewarding and help broaden your horizons. It’s all these small, positive moves that once integrated into your life will help improve your self-esteem.
So, NY resolutions are important and if you find yourself falling by the wayside, don’t give up. Tomorrow is another day, and if you focus on how good you will feel when you’ve reached a particular goal, any minor hardship will have been worthwhile.
My name is Yvonne Broady and I am a native New Yorker, born and raised. I am a writer and I blog about grief matters, life matters, and love matters. I’m also the author of Brave in a New World: A Guide to Grieving the Loss of a Spouse.
I was inspired to write this book after I lost my husband in 2009 to pancreatic cancer. His loss left me devastated and full of uncertainty as I struggled with trying to make sense of having lost my husband to this dreadful disease, in an instant, just like that. Consequently, I was forced to put my life back together again.
Writing Brave in a New World helped me to see how far I had come in my own grief journey. From the acute pain of the early days after my loss, to the period when I began to realize that I was overcoming my grief and beginning to rebuild my life, which no longer resembled the old one, on my own. This happened over many years of dedicated hard work in which I focused on ways to get past my sorrow over the loss of my husband and begin to think about how I would recreate my new life.
I wanted to share my story so that those who grieve would understand that the pain of grief is normal, and, in order to get past the pain, one must go through it. Everyone grieves differently and no one should be influenced by other’s expectations, timelines, or other limitations people put on us as we navigate our grief journeys.
My book is a template for those who are navigating the grief experience. My story is an affirmation of everyone’s grief journey and encourages and strengthens widows and widowers as they begin to rebuild their lives. It also lets them know that this too shall pass, as long as one grieves and doesn’t hold it in.
- What one book?
The process of writing Brave in a New World: A Guide to Grieving the Loss of a Spouse helped to bring an end to my own grief. It was a slow process, as it took 2 ½ years for me to write the book, but eventually, I was able to put my grief behind me. I now have a new life full of a variety of activities and fulfilling friendships.
- What one activity?
Exercising, weight training and walking were activities that helped me to purge some of the grief and assisted me in beginning to feel good about myself again.
- What one piece of music/song?
I have such eclectic taste in music it’s difficult to pinpoint one. I love Classical, Jazz, R&B, New Age and Urban Contemporary.
- What one quote?
Two quotes that have helped me on this journey, and which I frequently refer to are:
“We grieve because we have loved.”
“Keep your eyes on the target no one else sees.”
The first quote is self-explanatory and the second quote is a reminder that as you rebuild your life after the loss of your spouse, there will be those who want to tell you what it is that they think you should be doing. I suggest that you decide what you want to do for yourself. Bear in mind that you have been given an opportunity to have a second chance at living life in a new way and only you can decide what that life will look like.
- What one piece of advice?
One bit of advice that I would share with those who have lost a spouse and that is to just grieve. Cry, cry, cry, weep, weep, weep. Do not hold in your pain and sorrow, as over time this will do more harm than good. In due time the pain will subside and you’ll be on the road to your own new beginning.
You can read more about Yvonne Broady at her blog: www.braveinanewworld.wordpress.com
If, after some years as a widow or widower, you’re sharing your life with someone new and possibly his or her children as well as your own, planning the Christmas holiday could be fraught with differences in expectation.
Your first Christmas together should be memorable and reflect the holiday spirit anticipated by both of you. There will be a lot to think about if you want things to run smoothly and if the pattern of Christmas-past does not hold the same appeal for either of you, then perhaps it’s time to look at your options.
Sharing this particular event for the first time, for both of you and your families, is an opportunity to combine ideas and create your own unique Christmas experiences. Some habits of course, will remain, because they are positive and fun, especially with young children in mind, as they will be expecting the same. Waking up to Christmas stockings and parcels under the tree are elements that I don’t think any of us would want to change. These are the magical moments that stick firmly in our minds and form part of our childhood memories.
If neither of you, or any other family members, are overly excited about the idea of all that cooking, then how about eating out? Hopefully, there will be a few restaurant options nearby, where you can anticipate a good feast and leave the dishwashing to someone else.
Integrating the old with the new can create a unique experience that will become your own special way of spending the holiday. Make sure that everyone, children included, is invited to make suggestions on what they would like to do.
Start as you mean to go on, and make plans for Christmas together. The shopping, and of course, the cooking, if you’re eating at home, are all tasks that can be shared in some way. If there are children around, get them to help, too. This will strengthen bonds and create a pattern for future years.
If two sets of children are involved, this is the perfect opportunity to harmonise the families. Ask them if there is something specific they would like to do, such as going for a winter outing or watching a favourite movie or TV programme. In our house we used to get the younger children to come up with an idea for a play. They would go off for a while and return with something of their own creation, which would invariably end up with a great deal of hilarity all round.
Anniversaries and holidays can often be a time of increased stress and emotional turmoil and if this is your first Christmas together you have to make allowances for this. One suggestion is sharing any upbeat stories of Christmas past; by doing this you are acknowledging that memories of your previous family celebrations are cherished. This should allay any feelings of remorse if you’re feeling guilty about celebrating a special holiday and enjoying yourself regardless of absent loved-ones.
A first Christmas together may not be the ideal time to include your bereaved partner’s parents and other family members, but if this occurs through necessity, then use the occasion to build as much of a rapport as possible. It is likely they will be as cautious as you with this arrangement, but it offers the opportunity for all parties to accept that change is inevitable. This will show that you have not forgotten their son/daughter and that any grandchildren will always be a significant presence in their lives.
If it’s just the two of you, then introducing something completely new could be a good idea and is one way of creating a unique seasonal significance to your relationship. Taking a trip to another city or planning a Christmas lunch with a difference are just two ways of breaking with tradition.
Ultimately, the holiday season is an opportunity for everyone involved to form lasting memories together. In time, these experiences will hopefully form the basis of a new chapter in your life.
If you’re single, but hopefully not alone at Christmas, do join in with family and friends and try and look to the future. There are many other widows and widowers out there looking for someone just like you and next year could be your year.
Have a happy and peaceful holiday!
I’m the proud father of 7 kids and husband to Julie (aka Marathon Girl), the most amazing woman in the world. During the day I work in marketing for a financial institution. At night after the kids have gone to bed, I write books. When I’m not working or writing, the rest of my time is spent playing with my kids and coaching their basketball, soccer, or football teams and going on a weekly date with my wife. There’s not time for anything else.
When I was widowed, I started blogging anonymously about my day-to-day experiences of being a young widower. Many of these stories included the ups and downs of dating again. My stories must have resonated with people because they began emailing me and asking me questions about the widowers they were dating. I never intended to write books about dating a widower but the emails piled up along with requests to write a book about dating widowers. I finally wrote a series of books. I’m glad I did because countless women and widowers have told me how much these books have helped them with their relationships.
When it comes to relationships, I’m very interested in how men think and act. A lot of my dating guides spend time talking about this because in order to know if a widower is actually ready for a serious relationship one has to understand how men behave when they’re in love and when they’re just stringing women along. Most relationship guides don’t pay enough attention to this.
It’s the year of my life after my late wife’s suicide. It’s how I put the pieces of my life back together and fell in love with Marathon Girl. It’s about how I found peace and that love and hope and endure despite the tragedies that shape our lives.
Yes, I’m currently working on two other novels. One is a mystery novel and the other is a science fiction book. I hope to have them completed by the end of the year.
- What one book?
I never found a book that helped me with the grief or bereavement. Those I tried to read were mostly full of empty platitudes. I think there’s a great opportunity for someone to write one that actually helps people.
- What one activity?
Running. I don’t know where I’d be if hadn’t run four or five miles every morning after I became widowed. It cleared my mind and prepped me for another day.
- What one quote?
‘There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.’ C.S. Lewis
- What one piece of advice?
Having a friend tell me it was okay to ‘cowboy up’ and move-on. I did and never looked back.
- What one song/piece of music?
The only music I could listen to after my late wife’s suicide was the Counting Crows album August and Everything After. There was something real about the lyrics and imagery that resonated with me during that time and all these years later. It’s the only music that seems to fit life not matter what I’m experiencing.
You can read more about Abel Keogh at his website: www.abelkeogh.com
With summer ending and the prospect of winter edging into the frame, it’s easy to hit a low spot. However, in between summer and winter comes The Fall.
As the autumn can bring with it feelings of nostalgia, and the foreboding of winter, it is also a time to enjoy the bounty of the most fruitful time of the year. With a veritable feast of good things to eat, and a dazzling display of nature at its’ very best, there is much to enjoy before the winter sets in.
October can still bring sunny and warm days and it’s hard to imagine the chilly evenings and long cold nights, which could soon be upon us. Use this time to prepare for any harsh winter elements and look forward to enjoying the next few weeks while there is still much to offer.
If you’re feeling lonely and missing your late partner this could be a good time to ask yourself if you’re ready to think about dating again.
Should you feel dating again would be preferable to winter nights home alone, consider your options and think about what you can do to find a certain someone you might want to connect with.
If there is someone you know who is also widowed and with whom you have only ever shared a platonic friendship, perhaps they would be pleased if you invited them to go on a walk, or invited them to share a meal. You could keep it fairly loose and see what happens.
If all goes well you could plan a thanksgiving dinner together. It doesn’t have to be exactly on Thanksgiving Day, but around that time. Planning supper could be part of the event with each of you choosing your favourite foods. There is nothing like pumpkin pie, and at this time of year it should be enjoyed with family and friends – new or otherwise.
Going for walks and enjoying the transient changes to the foliage, catching the scent of pine nuts and vine fruits, and kicking up the fallen leaves, are all elements that contribute to the joys of this wonderful season. The autumnal sound of a forest is nature’s own orchestra, and the best place to spend an afternoon, especially if you are with someone you care about.
If making new friends seems an illusive concept, especially if you have enjoyed many happy years with your partner, don’t give up. Holding the idea in your mind that you would like to meet someone new, the greater the chance that it will happen. Self-belief and keeping an open mind are very important!
If you’re comfortable being single at this time, that is also fine. Lasting memories of a happy relationship with your partner are a valuable commodity and for some, all that is needed to keep you content.
However you’re feeling, make the most of the fall and treasure all that this rich and colourful season has to offer.
Losing a life partner is bound up not only with the love borne of friendship but also romantic love. Coming to terms with this loss, whether you are young or old, will challenge your spirit and senses more than anything.
Statistically, women are far more likely to be widowed than men. However, the older a man gets, the greater the chance that he will be widowed.
The course of bereavement for widowers will be different to that of widows. If there are children involved the experience can be quite overwhelmingly demanding which, in some ways, is not such a bad thing. Being busy and absorbed with the running of a home and the organization of children and their daily routines will definitely help to take the mind away from feelings of loss.
Most widowed men will agree that the daily demands on their spouse were far greater than they ever imagined. So much of what a woman does is a convoluted support system that keeps the wheels turning in a busy household, even if it was just the two of you. This is not to undermine a man’s role, of course, as he is likely to have been supportive of his partner in many other ways. If, because of a partner’s illness, the man is previously used to the daily demands of running a home, then coping alone will come in his stride; if not with a heavy heart.
With this in mind, it is worth noting here that men tend to take on a more primary attitude to the death of a spouse as they have seen themselves as the main source of protection and support. Initially, there may be the feeling that there is no real point in carrying on other than providing the financial needs of running a home. This feeling has been described as ‘being lost without a compass’ and it may well appear to those left completely alone, that a return to work is without purpose.
In spite of the inevitable concerns on the reliability of childcare, if necessary, and the day-to-day responsibilities of running a home in the back of your mind, it will be good for you to concentrate on something else. Going back to work, especially if you really enjoy your job, will come as a welcome relief. Use this time to think about your own physical and emotional needs as well.
Anything involving exercise is a good way to enhance your mental stability. Joining a gym or sports club, for example could very likely bring you into contact with others who have experienced the loss of a partner. Comparing notes is a good way to measure your recovery. Look outside the routine that you may have followed for years and see what there is on offer to broaden your horizons.
As time goes by and you find yourself settling into a different routine, you may even find that you are hankering after a relationship – even if it is only for companionship. This is nothing to feel guilty about. In fact widowers have a greater tendency to want to seek out another partner sooner than that of widows.
Dating again if you are still relatively young may not have the same amount of foreboding than for those who are older. However, a bit of moral support from friends and family could make the exercise that much more lightweight. It could be that one of your friends will know someone who could well be an interesting proposition for you. There are, of course, many social avenues for you to investigate; or you may even want to explore the possibilities presented by online dating. It is the norm these days for people, young and not so young, to seek out friendship on dating websites. This way you can take your time and not feel pressured in any way.
When, and if you do feel ready to date again, try to think positively about the experience. Whilst there may be a bit of uncertainty to begin with, have confidence in what you have to offer. If you have enjoyed a happy relationship with your partner, then there is nothing to say that you cannot enjoy the same with someone new. If it takes a while to meet that certain someone, be patient and don’t stop looking. You never know what the next chapter of your life has in store for you!
Losing a partner to bereavement is not something you are likely to come to terms with quickly. Learning to live as a widow will take courage and practice. In time you will be getting on with your life not as a widow but as a single woman.
Surprisingly, if you’re left with children and a demanding job it is possible that you’ll find your feet rather more quickly than if you are home alone and not busy. Children, especially, are a huge driving force to move you on and your mind will be on their wellbeing much more than yours.
This is not an excuse to ignore your needs, physically or mentally, but it does mean that each morning is kick-started with a ‘raison d’etre’ that cannot be ignored.
The more your thoughts are occupied with the need to carry on for the sake of your children/job/day to day responsibilities, the better it will be for you.
In time you will hopefully have settled into a routine and feel that you’re on top of things. There will be days that are more challenging than others, when you feel you can’t or don’t want to carry on, but by being busy and involved your recovery, such as it is, will surely come.
At some point in time you may even want to start dating again. This is nothing to feel guilty about and initially, is something you can ponder on your own. When you think the time is right then talk to friends, especially if they are also single, and explore what possibilities are out there for you.
It could be that one of your friends will know someone who could well be an interesting proposition for you. There are, of course, numerous classes, sports clubs and meet-up groups that you can investigate. You may even want to explore the possibilities presented by online dating.
If you do feel ready to date again, don’t leave it too long before you look for that special someone . Life is too short to sit about wondering if you’re doing the right thing. Dating should be fun and getting to know someone in the early stages can be very exciting and the outcome can be a revelation.
If you’re a widow or widower, the prospect of seeking a new relationship brings with it the possibility of upsetting the status quo.
With this in mind you may need to tread carefully when you decide to tell your in-laws that you’re thinking of dating again. They might be pleased for you, of course, but they may also be hurt and afraid that they could lose you and the association they have with you. Worse still, for them, will be the fear that they may also lose their grandchildren, if there are any.
If possible it is better to wait a few months after meeting someone before you suggest bringing the in-laws into the frame. Tell them you’re dating by all means, but keep it loose and let it seem light-hearted. As time passes, if they see that you’ve developed a sound friendship and the new partner is restoring your happiness and showing a genuine interest in you and your family, they are more likely to accept the situation.
When you think the time is right to bring them together, introduce your in-laws to your new friend by their first names. Adding ‘my in-laws’ to the introduction will immediately underline that they are not only friends but they are also an integral part of your family. If they truly care about you, they will be pleased in the long term and if you have made every effort to make them feel included in your life, it will be easier for them to accept the situation.
It is inevitable that there will be emotional highs and lows at this time. There will be anniversaries marking particular events that you shared with your spouse and I doubt you will want to ignore these. Make it a special occasion where the in-laws and any children share the event together. Explain to your partner that it is important you have this time with your family in order to make every one know you have not forgotten their son/daughter. Over time this will not be so necessary as one hopes that your in-laws will have come to terms that there is someone else in your life. In the early days, however, I see it as being a good way to keep everyone on your side.
Should you find yourself in the situation where your in-laws just cannot come to terms with the thought of someone else usurping their son/daughter’s role, you will have to have a serious discussion with them, especially if you’re still young. Explain that you do not want to spend the rest of your life on your own. Try and assure them that your partner would have wanted you to be happy and that you are not trying to replace him/her.
Help them to understand that you are adding a new dimension to your life, which has been shaped by your marriage or partnership with their son/daughter. They will know deep down that they are expecting too much of you and will hopefully, gradually accept the situation. Whatever you do, avoid keeping the relationship a secret. This will make it that much harder for them to accept when the news gets out and will reflect very badly upon you.
If there are children involved, make a concerted effort to arrange visits to the grandparents and encourage all of them to keep in touch on a regular basis. Organising visits, meet-ups and easy interaction in between, is so easy to do these days.
Any changes going on in your life and theirs can be shared and mutually discussed and understood. If you have always had a good relationship with your in-laws, the chances are they will be pleased to see you moving on and if you make an effort to involve them they will be pleased to be part of your future.
There is no real code of conduct for introducing someone new to your in-laws after bereavement. If it has been a while since your partner’s death, then it will no doubt be easier than if it is seemingly too soon after. This could be a difficult time for your new partner as well, as he/she will be aware that the presence of in-laws in your life will be a constant reminder of your late partner. If he/she is kind and understanding with you, it is hoped they will be the same with your bereaved partner’s family.
Moving on after bereavement can be a difficult time for you: also for those close to you. Providing you’re not rushing into things, making new friends is healthy progress. Whatever direction you take, you will always have memories that can be with you forever but not necessarily restricting your passage as you go forward.