Dating A Widow or Widower: FAQs

Valentine’s Day is this week. (If you’re looking for help coping with the day, we have some posts for you right here.) With this Hallmark holiday upon us, we’re going to address a topic that we have yet to tackle in the over 500 articles we have here on WYG.

As the title of this post suggests, we’re referring to topics related to dating after the death of a spouse or partner. We’ve been slow to write about this subject in the past because, well, it’s COMPLICATED. Dating is complicated. Grief is complicated. Swirl those together and things can get pretty messy.

That said, we receive lots of questions in our email asking questions related to new relationships after experiencing loss and, over time, we hope to have articles addressing all these concerns. Today we’re going to start with a post for a special subset of non-grievers and that is the men and women out there who are dating widows and widowers. If you don’t understand why this article is necessary, I’ll tell you, the majority of emails we receive on this topic are not from widow/widowers themselves, but from the people who are dating them.

Now, as a griever, you might be thinking, “Oh boo-hoo, you’re dating a widow. Life must be so hard for you” and honestly, in the days before we started WYG we may have said the same thing. However, after receiving emails over the years, we have realized that navigating the world of dating a widow(er) is more complicated than it seems.

Our plan for this post is simple, we’re going to give you our two-cent answers for some of the most common questions we receive.  As always, at the end of the article, you will find our wild and wonderful comment section, where we welcome your thoughts and experiences.

Before we jump into the FAQs, it’s a good idea for anyone who cares about a grieving person to have a baseline understanding of grief. So, you may want to start by checking out these posts about grief and then reading this post on how to support someone grieving.


Dating a widow or widower FAQs 

1. I am dating a widow who still displays photos of their late partner in their home. Does this mean they’re stuck? Are they ready to date? Can I ask them to take the photos down?

Actually, we do have a post answering this question, but the conversation bears repeating because this is our most commonly asked question. Read the whole post if you want a more in-depth answer, but here is the quick and dirty – it is 100% okay to display photos of a late-partner in the home. This is especially true if the deceased person is the parent of children who live in or visit the home.

Think about it – people aren’t erased from their families or their family history simply because they have died. Would you think it odd for someone to have a photo of a deceased grandparent, sibling, or child in the home? Most likely not and 9/10 the same rule applies here.  People do not cease to care about loved ones simply because they have died so, no, we would not recommend you ask them to take the photos down.

The Mitch Albom quote “Death ends a life, not a relationship” is true. Their relationship and love for that person will continue and that is normal and healthy (if this is blowing your mind, check out this post on Continuing Bonds Theory).

Photos do not indicate a person is stuck or that they aren’t ready to date. The wonderful and amazing thing about human beings is that we don’t have a finite capacity for love. Grief is about continuing to love someone who has died while also making room for new and amazing things in life. You might be one of those new and amazing things for the grieving person, but that doesn’t mean you are replacing what came before.

Ask yourself: Why am I uncomfortable with the photos? If you are feeling threatened or insecure, you may need to redefine how you understand grief and the relationship deceased loved ones play in the lives of those who mourn them.  Above all else, it will help to understand how your significant other feels about the photos, so consider asking them. Ask them what the photos mean to them and, if appropriate, share how the photos make you feel.


2. I am dating a widow(er) and they are still close to their deceased partner’s family. Is this normal? 

First, let’s be clear, it’s very hard to say what is and isn’t normal in grief. Let’s just say, though, it certainly isn’t abnormal! It’s common to form strong connections with a partner’s family members and it can feel like yet another loss to fall out of touch with these people.

When someone dies, it may be deeply comforting to stay connected with others who also knew and loved them. Sometimes this is simply because a person values the love and support of the family members, and sometimes because they are people you can share memories and stories with. If you skipped that Continuing Bonds post above, now might be a good time to check it out.

Ask yourself: Why are you uncomfortable with the relationship? Do you feel concerned their late partner’s family won’t accept you? Do you feel left out? Is it something else altogether? If you are uncomfortable with the relationship, it is reasonable to express your feelings (you have a right to your feelings, after all). However, in doing so, we recommend you try to keep an open mind about the role these relationships play in your significant other’s life. 


3. I am dating a widow(er) who has children and I am really nervous about meeting them. What can I do to make sure it goes smoothly?

Great question, you thoughtful partner you. First and foremost, if you haven’t discussed your anxieties with your partner, you should. Make sure you are both on the same page about what the kids have been told and how you are being introduced.

What you decide may depend on the age of the children, whether you are the first person the widow(er) has dated (or at least who the kids have met), etc. Younger kids are known for testing adults to make sure their stories are consistent, so being on the same page with language and information is crucial.

Beyond that, be open and take their lead. If there is an opportunity to show your interest in learning about the parent who died, great! Show interest and ask questions, but don’t force it. Always remember that the parent/partner who died is still a member of the family. You aren’t there to replace that person, rather fill a new and different space in the family. The more you can do to convey your understanding of this to the kids, the better.

Finally, read up on the topic of regrief.  At each new developmental stage, kids understand the world in new and different ways. They often start to view their ongoing grief through this new lens and this may also mean revisiting your role in the family. Keep in mind that at major life milestones, kids may feel especially upset that their deceased parent isn’t there and that you are (which is not to say they will view this is as a bad thing). All this is why it is so important to keep an open dialogue with your partner and, if appropriate, their children about their grief.

Ask yourself:  Am I confident enough in the future of this relationship to meet my SO’s grieving children? Am I ready to accept the complicated feelings that might come up for the children? How can I best convey that I am warm and open, that I don’t intend to replace their parent, and that I understand the ongoing role their deceased loved one will play in their lives?


4. I want to be supportive of my significant other on difficult days (the deathiversary, their partner’s birthday, their anniversary, etc). However, they haven’t opened up to me about their feelings, so I don’t know how. If I mention these days, will I remind them of the pain?

Chances are, they haven’t forgotten the significance of these days. Though we always recommend taking the griever’s lead, this is a situation where it may be helpful to proactively offer your support. Ask them if there is anything they’d like to do to honor their loved one on the day and ask them about their anxieties, but make it clear that you are willing to give them space and time for themselves if this is what they need.

Ask yourself: Are you ready to be there for whatever they need (the only thing worse than not offering is not following through)? Will you take it personally if they say they don’t want support and/or need space?


Final Thoughts

If you are struggling as a partner to a widow(er), the biggest question to ask yourself is whether you are truly ready to accept that the person you are dating will, on some level, always love and care about the person who died? Are you able to believe – on an intellectual and emotional level – that their love for the person who died does not take away from the love they have to give to you? And, if you are gentle and open to learning more, you may find their memories and connections to the person make up another wonderful layer of them that you can get to know through stories and memories.

Thoughts, questions, concerns, words of wisdom on this topic? Leave a comment below! 

April 11, 2019

29 responses on "Dating A Widow or Widower: FAQs"

  1. I am dating a widow. We are both 52 now. We met 5 years ago, 2 years after her husband died. They had a daughter, 16, and a son, 14 at the time of his death. I have 2 sons ages 30 and 26. I am the only person she has dated since her husband died. We have a long distance (50 miles) relationship. It began with emails for the first 3 months. Then we got together for the first time (we knew each other in high school)and hit it off. At the time we started our relationship, she was still struggling to find happy moments in her days but she is very strong and took care of her kids and the new jobs she had to take care of around the house for the first time.
    She has always been clear that she loved her husband very much and that “it sucks” that he is gone. She said that during those first two years she just felt normal at work where she had her job to do. At home, she felt sad when she was alone, but also didn’t ever feel like her old self anywhere. She was filled with sadness at her loss and had learned to cope with it some but hadn’t felt like it had changed all that much.
    When we started emailing each other, one thing she said she liked was that we didn’t have to talk about her husband which seemed to dominate her conversations since his death. She started having happy moments. We hit it off and things went very well. She is very close with her family and she is very close with her husband’s family. I heard from many of the family members that they were happy to see her smiling and happy again. They are all very accepting of me as well. Things were going very well. We saw each other often. We had our daily texts and our nightly calls when we weren’t together. We had not made detailed plans for our future, but we both expected that our future was together.
    These things changed a few months ago. The calls (she would make the calls, I had the morning text) and communication were starting to lessen…by quite a bit.
    When we got together, I said I needed to talk to her and she said that we really needed to. She explained that she started having those same feelings she was having before we starting getting to know each other. She is filled with grief for her husband. The kids are now in college or graduated from college. She is angry that she doesn’t get to share these great moments and accomplishments of her kids with the only other person who can look at her kids as a parent and who was such a great part of their lives. She is also in the beginning stages of selling the house the kids grew up in and that means going through so many of the things that represent their past as well as so many of her husband’s things. She is really struggling with grief right now and she is pulling away from me.
    A few weeks ago, we talked and agreed the expected calls, communications, etc. would no longer be expected. She needed space from me. We still talk occasionally and see each other a little bit, but I am really struggling and want to do the right thing. She said that she needs her time but that she can’t expect me to just be waiting for her. She used to know that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with me and now she just thinks the future is an unknown.
    I am struggling with how to move forward. I wonder if it is best for me to give her space (no communication)as that will allow the grieving process to move forward, or if I should be there at the random times she reaches out. I love these moments, but I feel like they are random moments of happiness surrounded by emptiness and stress. I also feel that if that’s what it takes to help the woman I love, I should endure that. It can’t be near the pain of her grief and I want to be there in good times and bad.
    Perhaps I am looking for words of wisdom or maybe I just needed to pour out my thoughts. When I wrote about the things that her husband is missing and she is missing the chance to share, it makes her feelings seem so much easier to understand.
    Anyway, if anyone wants to comment, I’d be happy to hear others’ thoughts.

  2. I have been dating a widower for two and a half years. He has been widowed for 7. He has met everybody in my family, has been invited to every family function, etc. I have never met anyone in his family. He has one grown daughter , 33, who only wants her dad to be with his deceased wife, or so he tells me. He spends all winter with his daughter in Florida, one month or more in July (he promised her she’ll never be alone on the anniversary of her mothers death – even though she has a live in boyfriend of 5 years. He spends all major holidays as well as birthdays, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day etc with his deceased wife’s wife’s family. He says they can’t meet me cause “it would be too hurtful because I would remind them that their daughter/sister is dead.” He also says I’m the love of his life. All her belongings are still on her dresser, clothes still hanging in the closet, folded in her drawers, shoes, pocketbooks… He says it’s not important to him, “he never got around to it” and “he’s waiting for his daughter to go through everything because she’ll be upset if he gets rid of anything.” The most baffling thing is that the marriage wasn’t good, they only stayed together for their daughter. I am baffled and extremely hurt by all of this. Any thoughts..?

  3. I have been dating a widower for two and a half years. He has been widowed for 7. He has met everybody in my family, has been invited to every family function, etc. I have never met anyone in his family. He has one grown daughter , 33, who only wants her dad to be with his deceased wife, or so he tells me. He spends all winter with his daughter in Florida, one month or more in July (he promised her she’ll never be alone on the anniversary of her mothers death – even though she has a live in boyfriend of 5 years. He spends all major holidays as well as birthdays, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day etc with his deceased wife’s wife’s family. He says they can’t meet me cause “it would be too hurtful because I would remind them that their daughter/sister is dead.” He also says I’m the love of his life. Oh and nothing has been touched since his wife died 7 years ago. All her belongings are still on her dresser, clothes still hanging in the closet, clothes in her drawers, shoes, pocketbooks, you name it. He says it’s not important to him and “he never got around to it” and oh the best, “he’s waiting for his daughter to go through everything because she’ll be upset if he gets rid of anything.” What is wrong with this man???

  4. For all of those listening, I hope this is a good/proper forum to post this question:

    I am a divorcee of a marriage of 29 years. I met a beautiful woman over a year ago and we have been committed to each other, however, our relationship has been rocky. First, my SO is a widow. ~ 50 years old. She was married to him a short time (2 years) before he met an untimely death in a vehicle accident over 5 years ago. She insists she was ready to move on when we started dating. When we started dating she was 1) wearing her wedding rings 2) had large 30 x 30 pictures of her late husband up in the house 3)Did not ever entertain the thought of me being a “friend” to her on social media. I hope this does not sound selfish but when we first started dating I did find it “creepy” that I was thinking of dating someone like this. And it wasn’t because of the death issue, but the fact it seemed like I was dating a married woman. Sorry, I have morals and I don’t date married women. I continued seeing her because I figured I would gain a friend, and we would be friends to help each other in our journey. So, in time the rings came off, and due to a home renovation project the pictures are down for now. Whether they get resurrected at a later date I am not sure at this time. She is comfortable in my home and we spend almost 100% of our time there, and never spend time at her house. I love this woman more than anything, and she tells me the same. But, we have a rocky relationship now. I have tried to embrace her past, understanding and being empathetic to her plight, and, comforting her when she is down. But, it is causing me distress as it seems there is still many parts of her CURRENT life that I am being omitted from, and, not being allowed to enter. At times we are happy and friends and family thing we are a couple. However if I am not around, you might think she is married and has a relationship with her deceased husband. I am trying, trying to work with this scenario but I am having sleepless nights now. If she is not ready why does she say she is? And, am I being selfish? If she is not ready I wish she would let me go so I can have a life where I am doubting my place in this woman’s life. Any and all input would be appreciated. Thank You

    • Hi, Ron.
      A few thoughts, since you asked for feedback.
      Have a look at the blog post on this site titled, “I am still your daughter, you are still my mother.” Interesting insights on how, in some ways, the relationship with our loved one does continue. (Still trying to wrap my head around the concept but it’s not unique to this site & was some relief to me to see it in print.) I am still my husband’s wife. I didn’t “opt out”, we did not divorce. Many people wear wedding rings for a long period. The reasons vary. Holding the connection, respect for their spouse, judgement of others, keeping (some) unwanted advances at bay (rings deter some but not others), respect for or worry how their kids will react, physical comfort (you can feel naked without something you didn’t take off for years), a touchstone to good memories… Some eventually move it to the other hand, wear it on a chain, or have it made into different jewelry.
      While I don’t have any poster-size prints, I do have photos in my home. Some may have that large decor (before the death), for others the big photos were prepared for the memorial & gave some comfort after. If kids, grandkids, or other family visit they may enjoy seeing them & the surviving spouse may leave them partially for others.
      Though she was married to him a short time, she may have experienced traumatic grief due to the sudden loss. She may have been reluctant or unable to make changes for awhile.
      Spending time in your home may have more to do with you & how comfortable & welcome you make her feel there. Perhaps her home was his first & she isn’t entirely at ease there. Perhaps it’s her haven for now and she decided she didn’t want to bring new people in. Some look forward to a chance to leave the old place behind but can’t bear to change it until they go. It may be unrelated – perhaps she (or he) was a pack rat or left projects incomplete & she’s a little embarrassed or maybe she has nosey neighbors. (Maybe your HVAC works better!)
      Social media means different things to different people. If she’s not “living” in that space or is otherwise private, it might make sense that she doesn’t air personal relationships there. (Maybe her pages are only to promote her business or keep up with distant cousins. Maybe she just doesn’t want Aunt Harriet commenting inappropriately if she posts a photo from your walk in the park. (“Do I hear wedding bells?” Or “he’s better looking than the last one. But does he make as much money?”)
      Sounds like you’ve been patient & thoughtful. I’m sure you’ll find ways to invite her to discuss when she’s ready the areas you’re concerned about.

  5. I see that this is a very old blog but still, I am in need of some direction and you all seem very well versed in this specific situation. So, I am a divorcee x 2 both times it was due to infidelity on their parts, the first time we had been together for 17 years and a wonderful marriage and 2 beautiful children and the 2nd lasted only 3 hellish years, thankfully God did NOT allow children to be created. So I have been single for the past 5 years and have always felt like one of my purposes in life is to be a Wife, even though I was robbed from it twice, I still believe Love exists and am ready for it. So, because of all my “experience” with marriage, relationships and men.. I have always felt like I have a good “handle” on things.. up until now! Yes, you guessed it, I have met a Widower and he has stolen my heart. He and his late wife had a 22 year marriage but the last 5 years of it was a disaster as she became addicted to prescription drugs and got herself mixed up in a lot of really bad situations, his car was repo’ed etc. so for the last 3 years before her accident, they were sleeping in separate rooms all together. Their marriage was on the split but he refused to give up because he said he was “desperate to keep his family together” they have a grown daughter that is now 20. His late wife passed on Christmas day after being home from rehab for only 1 day and left on a “trip” with someone (one of her relatives) that was “the cause” of most of her addictions. So, only 2 months after her death, he and I met. I was very leery because of the short amount of time but I took into account that they had actually lived as “separated” for over 3 years prior to her accident so I felt like he was most likely “ready” for a real relationship. He has had many ups and down for the past 6 months but all-in-all we have gotten through them all. His daughter has welcomed me with open arms because she says “this is the first time I have seen dad happy in so long” so I am very grateful. I am irrevocably in love with this man, he is everything I have prayed for in a mate. He loves God more than anything and desires to serve him with his whole heart, as do I. We have many many things in common but there are a few things that cause me concern and I am asking for a little direction from those of you that may have some answers to help me. 1. He does still refer to her as “my wife” I only recently discovered what her name actually was and that was from one of her family members. This wouldn’t be much of an issue except due to my extenuating circumstances in my past eg. being cheated on by 2 different men, when he refers to her as “my wife” it makes me cringe and feel as if I am “the other women” and that I am some how and adultress, now I know that sounds silly to some, but I am just being perfectly honest. 2. He has said only a few times that he indeed “loves” me but he says “sometimes, I feel so in love with you and other times, I just really like you” now this is highly confusing to me, because I love him all the time.. even when he says or does something without thinking and I become offended. My love for him doesn’t sway. 3. He has told me more than once that he fears he “may not be able to love me as deeply” as he loved her and worries that wouldn’t be fair to me. I have explained to him that love is like a seed that has been planted and everyday is watered by kindness, intimacy and sweet gestures and over time, that seed will continue to grow and grow so I would be foolish to expect him to have the same “love” for me in only 6 months that he had for her for over 22 years. 4. And this is the one that is the absolute most alarming to me, at least once a week he goes through this dark period where he is constantly asking “Why, why did ‘this’ have to happen to my family, Why is she gone, Why did I fight for my family for 5 long painful years.. all for Nothing, Why did she have to die…etc” and I’m left feeling like if he is struggling this much over losing her and “his family” then maybe his isn’t ready to add me to his family?! Am I being foolish, or is this something that is normal behavior? I want to say “But, if this terrible thing would NOT have happened, then we would have never met..” but I would never say such a thing because I wouldn’t want to hurt him, I am just trying to be as understanding and empathetic as I possibly can… He says he wants to marry me “when the time is right” and I would love to be his wife but right now, I have many mixed emotions and I seek counsel. Could someone please help! Thanks, and God Bless- Tricia

    • Oh Tricia, slow down…no need to rush into anything. Keep praying (both of you, together and separate) for God’s wisdom and direction. I sincerely believe that He will direct your path/s, in His way and in His time. God bless.
      AT

    • Hi, Tricia.
      “Love v/s really like” or “love AND really like.” I can see where his comments could confuse you. If I said something like that It would have been trying to say sometimes there’s giddiness, infatuation, the excitement of this romance, other times I realize that I really like who you are as a person – without the physical attraction or being enamored coming into play. The idea that I like what you’re all about. (I would mean such as a compliment but would likely trip over my tongue saying it.) The good news is… You can certainly revisit that. “A while back you said sometimes you feel you’re in love with me & other times you really like me. Can you tell me more about what you meant.”
      I met someone who lost her son and when I asked his name she was so grateful. Lots of us experience those left in our lives never mentioning our departed and never saying their name. (A good book – Say Her Name, Francisco Goldman.) I love to hear my husband’s name coming from a friend – though it rarely happens. Maybe you’ll find times to occasionally use her name – perhaps it will make you both more comfortable. “Did you tell me you and Zelda visited Montreal, too, or just Toronto?” “I see the roses in your yard are blooming. Did you and Zelda plant those together or were you always the chief gardener here?”
      At our age we all come with some past. Once in a while you might reference your first husband if only in a story about your kids, right? It’s not so different for those who lost their partner – except the extra weight of grief & how everyone in the room might hold their breath, look away, or change the subject.
      When he’s asking those why questions he’s being honest & trusting you. In addition it might help him to talk to a counselor or visit a grief support group. Or, there are some great articles on this site that you might suggest to him.

    • Hi Tricia
      I’m not going to pull any punches here as it’s not fair on either of you. Sounds to me like your significant other is going through ‘complicated grief’, unfortunately. Unlike ‘normal grief’ where there is a ‘process’ most follow to a more less degree (not time limit), complicated grief has no such path. Further hindering this process is the sheer fact he may go round and round in circles for years. Some take it to the grave.
      That said, it by no means indicates his love or feelings for you. Having been there myself, in my opinion, the best thing you can do at this point is:
      1. Try to lose all your expectations of him. To be frank, you will never understand his state of mind. Even those going through ‘normal grief’ find it difficult to comprehend ‘complicated grief’, so what chance has anyone else? Besides, until you know what you are truly dealing with here, you could be ruining the best thing that ever happened to both of you.
      2. Seek ‘good’, professional help for advice, guidance & strategies on how to better understand & manage the situation. I am a widow of 5 years with a similar ‘off the rails’ ending to your significant other and my grief is most certainly complicated. For the first 2 years my heart ached every minute of every day. To a slightly lesser degree, my heart continued to ache for the next 2 years and still does at more random times for random periods. There have been times when I have resigned myself to the fact that the day he died my heart went with him.
      Then one day I met up with an old work colleague I had not spoken to in 18mths. He told me he lost his 41yo wife 3mths earlier to cancer just one year after diagnosis. I was shocked. I immediately felt his pain. I knew exactly where he was at & felt so bad this had happened to him & his family. Then just like that, he asked me out. I was quite shocked, but accepted anyway, I think mainly because we understood each other. However, I soon realised how different his grief was from mine. He had permission from his partner to move on; I didn’t. He had time to prepare; I didn’t.
      At one point I had to slap myself for being a bit judgemental about the time he had spent grieving. The point here is, grief IS different for everyone. And those who are not/have not been in this space, have no way to understand what this all means, let alone what to do. Had this man come into my life say 4.5 years earlier, my grief timeline may have been very different. Mainly because we could have given each other valuable support and a reason to move on.
      To better understand, try consulting a professional or, like you are doing, read about & try to understand the experiences of other individuals who have experienced complicated grief. That way you will be in a far better position to understand and support him with effective strategies and guidance to move on.
      You need to give him is a reason to move on. We don’t like being in this space, but often we feel so alone because people don’t understand and are very critical of us, that we eventually retreat back to what we know. We can stay here for years. The only way I can explain what happens is, the day our spouse died, we did not accept this as final. Instead, probably out of sheer loneliness & the lack of understanding from others, we go back to where we feel the most comfort. Somehow, we end up continuing our relationship with a dead person into the future, almost the same as if they were still alive today.
      Finally, if you really want to help him & your relationship to work, ACT NOW!
      Seek advice on strategies to support & guide him through his grief where you can. If you don’t & he does not continually seek & apply good help, very soon (my guess ~6mths after his previous spouse died), he may fall into a type of depression whee he is likely to default to a situation where he takes his previous relationship with him into the future. This is particularly significant for survivors of suicide, homicide, etc, as they are typically unable to ‘accept’ the death, rather, they live the remainder of their life around it. If he does end up taking his previous relationship with him into the future, it is impossible to determine when he will come out of this state of mind…if he ever does.
      Contrary to what he may or may not think, he definitely needs someone in his life..to the point of needing that person to be there almost all of the time, depending on the level of complicated grief. I believe, if caught earlyish, with the right approach and strategies, having a person there who you can be needy with when you need it, significantly helps people through their grieving process. Further, having a person you have a calm, intimate relationship with, is another level again. Sometimes we just need an unconditional hug. Sometimes we just need to fall asleep lying next to and touching the person we care for in the present. It’s therapeutic. Not only does it help take away the pain in our heart, but it helps us realise there is life without the person who died. And we don’t need to punish ourselves by being lonely because they are no longer here and we are. We have permission to enjoy the rest of our life. But most of all we allow ourselves to move in to the next relationship. It doesn’t mean anything except that the book written on our previous relationship is complete now. It’s like reading the first two Harry Potter books. Both well written and for those who like Harry Potter, both good books. If you & your significant other both read the books, would you be jealous if he said he really loved the way Ron drove the flying car in the second book? Probably not. Nor should you be. Because this does not necessarily mean he likes that book better. It simply means he liked the way Ron drove the flying car…no different to the things you love and remember from your previous relationships.
      ALL relationships are different. There will always be things we like and don’t like about them. And if they were significant enough to affect the way we want to live our life, we probably wouldn’t be there in the first place. Your relationship with this man is neither better nor worse to him right now. He simply needs time to work out how to ‘close’ something he did not expect to close just yet. If you can help him do this, you will probably have his heart. Either way, once closure/acceptance is achieved the best way it can for him, you will have the opportunity to plan out your future together. It may be a long road. It may not. But the more you can do to understand & support his situation, the sooner you will know.
      In short: We simply need time & care for the pain from the wound in our heart to heal. Time & Care. It works miracles.
      I hope this helps. It’s the best way I can describe what I know.
      All the best x

  6. I have been dating a wonderful man who is a widower for two years. He was married for 35 years. I love him very much, but I realize that I can’t marry him. He will always be married to his late wife, and I need a chance to find someone who will see me as the love of his life.

  7. I am dating a widower and he expresses a lot of love for me and talks about spending the rest of our lives together. I am love him,. He is truly wonderful. And I’m very sympathetic to the feelings of those who have lost a life partner to death, but in my heart of hearts, I realize that I can’t marry him. I respect that he will always be married to his late wife, will have pictures of her in his home, and expects to see her again after death. That doesn’t leave room for me to have a real marriage with him. I had a long and very difficult marriage that ended in divorce. I can’t accept that I might have to settle for never finding my “one true love”. I can’t share a husband with another woman.

  8. My lovely wife died 6 months ago leaving me with 3 kids aged 14, 11, and 5 years. My grieis so much. She died of breast cancer that took evrything we worked for before she died. Sometimes life can be so mischivious. Is it possible to find a widow to marry who can assist me with the training of the children?

  9. Approaching 5 yrs of widowhood, and now in my early 70’s, I have been fortunate to meet and enjoy the company of several sincere and trustworthy men (all widowers). They have become good friends, but none can replace the precious lost love of my life. My heart remains empty.

  10. I was in love with my husband from the time I was seventeen. More importantly, I met my best friend and soul mate when I was seventeen. But there were all kinds of complications and issues. His first wife died when I was twenty, which I was sad to hear because I had been fond of her. He was devastated, and his knee jerk reaction to his loss was to start dating me six weeks later. He was older than I was, but that was never an issue. Things were really great, I thought. But he had some unrealistic expectations – thinking “I was married and was happy. I’ll get married and be happy”. I knew it was way too soon for him to be thinking that way, and the thought of taking on his three kids so soon after they had lost there mother seemed like a really bad idea – especially since his oldest daughter is only four years younger than me! So I did the right thing and we stopped dating, but we stayed best friends and stayed close. Within a year he married a girl a year younger than me who was just trying to move out of her parent’s house. He later told me that he knew on the honeymoon that it wasn’t going to work. But he was married. We actually worked together for several years and then when I was twenty-five I was married to an old boyfriend. Of course, three months after I got married he filed for divorce. Long, long story short, years later when my son was five, I just couldn’t stay in that marriage anymore and my son and I moved in with Tom. Shortly after my divorce was final Tom and I were finally married in late 1988. Our son was born in 1990 and things were really wonderful. At least until just after my older son graduated from high school in 2001. Within a couple of months Tom was diagnosed with very advanced Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He had an incredibly invasive surgery to remove a kidney and clean out as much of the cancer as they could, then he went through a full round of chemotherapy. Things seemed good for awhile. But then the cancer came back. He went through chemo again, then went through the collection of his stem cells to attempt a stem cell transplant. Once that was all set to go, he became an inpatient so they could do the extremely high dose chemo to kill everything in his body before they could reintroduce his stem cells. But something went horribly wrong. His body could not handle the high dose chemo and his organs began to fail. He had to be placed on a ventilator and then had to be sedated. After several heartbreaking weeks in the ICU, I had to make the decision to let him go. He died two weeks after our son turned thirteen, passing away nine days before Christmas. So we were married for fifteen years, but we had been best friends for almost thirty years.

    So, married fifteen years and now a widow for fifteen years. I would absolutely like to believe I could still have a close, loving relationship with another person. I understand that it wouldn’t be the same, but that would not necessarily mean it would be any less. But in fifteen years I have had two spectacularly awful dates, both from online matches. Apparently the world of online dating is pretty darn weird, unless you get lucky and find that one human being that must be out there somewhere. I am retired, I am not a church goer, I am not a bar person, and I am now sixty-four years old. How on earth am I supposed to meet a nice, single, straight man anywhere approaching my age? Is it back to the online dating sites? It seems like you can exchange one or two nice e-mails that way, but then things start to get strange.

    So I have no difficulty dealing with the pitfalls of dating a widower – I have already fine-tuned that skill before. But where, how do I even find a good man who is willing to take a shot with a perfectly good (albeit lonely) woman?

  11. I found the comment above very true: “Everyone means well, but unless they have been there, they will ‘Never’ understand what it is like to lose everything that you have worked your whole life for. ” During 38 years as a pastor, i provided counsel and comfort to widows and widowers. When my wife of 47 years died, I realized that I did not fully understand the grief of losing a spouse. The relationship encompasses every aspect of one’s life.

    I am fortunate to have remarried. Dating again was scary. I never used an online dating program. I only considered someone that I already knew from my social network. Over a year after my wife died, I asked out a widow whose husband had died 18 months before my late wife. I did not know her late husband. She had met my late wife once. We understand that love is not finite. We can love more than one person. I had six grandchildren before remarrying. Now I have seven, as my wife’s daughter had a beautiful daughter after we married. I love her like my other grandchildren. We openly talk about our late spouses frequently, which allows us to discuss events from our entire life, not just the months or years in the new relationship.

    I continue to love my late wife and as well as my present wife. We were very clear from the beginning of our relationship that we were not replacing the previous spouse. We have a gallery of family photos in our home that includes “couple” photos of our previous spouses, our current marriage, and all of our adult children with their spouses. Learning about my wife’s late husband adds depth to our relationship rather than diminishing it.

    • I would be guess that you also remarried a woman who is at least 10 years younger than you are! I have watched that happen so many times. My own father remarried a woman 10 years younger than himself. She was my mother. I have watched and decided that this is what most widowed men choose to do! In our culture, it is much easier for a man to remarry than for a woman to remarry. The man has a much wider field to choose from. One reason is there are so many more widows than widowers left alone. I think it’s about 7 to 1. Another reason is that men are typically the aggressor who pursues. Most women are not comfortable in being the one to start the relationship. We wait for the men to ask us. You had the freedom to decide when, where, and who to ask. Most women would rather be pursued than be the pursuer! But, now as a widow it is not a fun or hopeful game at the age of 65. I, too, had a wonderful and happy married life for over 40 years. My whole life has totally changed. I not only miss him but the life I had with him. But, the reality of what I’ve seen is that most men won’t consider someone their own age first. They tend to pick someone much younger. So this game just gets harder, the older a widow becomes. I have no desire to even look at a man who is over 70. Why would I when the chance of him dying is so high?!? The thought of being alone for 25 years haunted me when I was widowed at 62, and I didn’t know if I could survive. But, I’ve survived for almost 3 years. It’s a day at a time. Only God knows how a widow really feels. That’s why we’re close to His heart. It seems most widows will die as a widow, where most widowers won’t have to face that scenario because it’s easier for them to remarry whoever they desire.

    • I would guess……

  12. I have met someone and he acts strange if I mention either of my late husbands. Lost 2.

    I feel like I am supposed to be careful not to refer to either of them.

    I continue to go visit with LH mom so is turning 84 on February 22, 2019. But now feel like I need to sneak around to see her. Which makes me feel sad for him, since I know she would really like him.

    I sent him a copy of the link to this article to see if he’s willing to change the attitude.

    What else should I do???

    • Kerry Catherine HagerFebruary 14, 2019 at 4:43 pmReply

      Find someone else. There are plenty of people who are whole enough to deal with the fact that you are still part of those people and they are still a part of you. The best ones can integrate and make room for the memories of your life with the other people while you make a new life with a new person. You can’t erase or pretend that the last two marraiges and all your development and memories with them did not exsist, nor should you. I’m a widow for now 10 years. I was young with young children and I was very upfront with any man I dated that I would speak of my late husband everyday for my children’s sake and to honor his memory. Not all the memories are good and I talk about those too. The man I am with as my unmarried life partner now 6 years in, was aquainted with my late husband but we didn’t know of each other until 4 years after his death. If you can’t be fully who you are, losses and all, that’s not the right relationship, or try some open discussion about it, maybe they just need to be able to tell you how it makes them feel and you can reassure them that there is no reason to feel jealous or insecure about dead men.

    • Kerry Catherine HagerFebruary 14, 2019 at 5:03 pmReply

      Also, Tammy. I have a close relationship with my late husband’s parents now in their 70s. They are a part of my children’s family. We didn’t rush anything but over time my new life partner has been completely accepted by my late husband’s parents. Infact I think they like him more than me. lol We took the attitude that we can either choose to add relationships to our lives or subtract. We chose to add.

  13. I met who was later to become my wife, when she was just 14 years old and I was 17 years old. They called it “Puppy Love” at that time. When she was 16 and I was 18, we ran away and got married. After 53 years of marriage, she lost her 2 year battle with Pancreatic Cancer.

    How do you continue on with your life, when the love of your life, was your life? Everyone means well, but unless they have been there, they will “Never” understand what it is like to lose everything that you have worked your whole life for. You tried to do everything right, plan for your “Golden Years” only to have these “Golden Years” taken away from you.

    She was stunning at 14, but even more so at 40, 50 and even 60. I loved watching her age, which, like everything else, she did beautifully. I was very surprised that she died. Throughout her illness, I held on to the hope that her treatments could reverse her cancer. By the time her death was inevitable, it was too late to communicate with her properly, except emotionally. I cared for her at home, but there was no way to discuss the future, which loomed like a black hole.

    There is this saying: “You only live, when you find a treasure you would gladly die for.” I would have gladly traded places with my beautiful wife.

    When I look back on our marriage, I remember the intimacy, the inside jokes only the two of us really got. I miss and remembered her hugs, feeling embraced and totally safe; like the whole world was just the two of us.

    My very beautiful wife, soulmate and best friend of 54 years had just turned 68 the month before. When she was diagnosed with cancer, two years prior, I was in a fortunate position to retire and be her full-time care giver for 2 years before she passed away. Throughout our marriage we always had a very close and loving relationship, but the last 2 years brought me even closer to this wonderful and loving human being, as I came to love and admire her tenacity and her courage during her illness.

    I am thinking of trying dating (just wanted to finally do some things that I had missed…wow what a revelation when you are not 18 anymore) and I am trying to find women who aren’t too hung up on the widower thing. I still think about my wife every day- often more than once. I still have her pictures in both of my homes and will “Not” put them away or hide them. If this is a criteria for dating than count me out.

    It seems that the women my age are to hung up on companionship and not a loving relationship. They want to wine, dine and travel, with no emotional or loving commitment. You watch your TV and I will watch mine. You sleep in your bedroom and I will sleep in mine. Am I foolish to still believe in “Love” the second time around or is this companionship the new normal?

    • Your story so close to mine and I now at age 64-65 in May after 37 years marriage with 44 in true love-have no desire for “the game”. Yes it was always a game and still is, only worse-the times have changed so much since “old school” dating game. I imagine the women you talk about are the rule and not the exception. You sound like me in that you experienced a “once in a lifetime love” and frankly that was enough for me. You read some of the stories of widows/widowers trying another go at it out there and they are pretty scary. Especially if you are coming off 30-40 plus years of marriage. I would think if you are in your 40s..maybe early 50s there is a shot. But if you are in your mid 60s? I personally say in my case “game over”. You are too close to if something does work out and you are ready to dive in to only have to go through the grief all over again and why would you want that or to have someone else deal with it? Its alot of work to perfect a “once in a lifetime” and there is a reason why its called such. I will proudly count myself to be one of those. A one and done.

  14. Dating IS complicated. Dating at an age when you expected to be enjoying traveling, grandkids and the fruits of years of hard work..mind-boggling. My husband of nearly 40 years accepted me, “warts and all,” as they say, loved me unconditionally and thought I was beautiful..G-d bless him.
    . To expose myself (perhaps literally) and my fragile sense of self at my current age is beyond daunting..
    But so is spending the rest of my days alone.
    Hard to know what to do. Or where. Or how.?

  15. I am a widow for 3 years.
    I haven’t dated yet, but the guy I have my eyes on knew both me and my husband. I don’t know if that will make it harder for him. On the other hand, I don’t have to explain how important my husband was to me, because he saw it.
    I was a young enthusiastic woman when I met my husband 36 years ago. I worry I have nothing to offer now.
    I have five kids, youngest two in high school. This guy is a younger divorcé with one daughter near the age of my middle child. He knows them all from church. His child lives out of state.
    It makes me both giddy and anxious to think of making a move.

    • Kerry Catherine HagerFebruary 14, 2019 at 5:09 pmReply

      I also worried that I had nothing to offer. I actually asked people what women offered in a relationship other than the obvious physical things. One of the best answers I got was: Balance. One of the best things I did was fill out the eharmony questionaire. Not because I got any matches, I didn’t. But it helped me really take a look at who I was now, after not being widowed. I realized I wasn’t ready to date in a quality relationship until I could answer these things about myself. When you know who you are and what you have to offer- honesty, companionship, laughter, compassion, fun, maybe food, friendship…..you start to realize, these things are priceless. Everyone needs these.

  16. I will start off by simply saying I lost me wife tragically-shockingly and suddenly to state 4 lung cancer that had mets to her brain. We had just retired and had bought our dream retirement home-me 64 and she 62- we moved to be near my daughter and grandchildren-“dream life here we come”! We worked both of us each close to 40 years to get to it. We got ROBBED instead and in June she was given 2 months and on August 9th this wonderful woman/soulmate/anchor/life support/my world and reason to live was gone. Oh yeah why here? Well Valentines Day 1981 we were married- we had 37 years and were cranking to 40-45-50..all the big ones. Well now you know the story-we did not make it and as of the 14th the anniversary clock officially stops at 37 years.Needless to say this month and this day will be my toughest yet as if the holidays weren`t tough enough so soon as it was. Dreading yet another day once so loved and looking forward to. Its only 6 months but I hear/read of many its never going to get better and that I can see. But for now here is my Valentines Day contribution. Sigh.

  17. I am a widow of almost 3 years. Its weird to count that. I love what you said about grief being a part of that relationship, even though our partner is dead. I haven’t started dating, I am just in survival mode. When my husband died, I packed up all of our pics because it was too hard to look at. I took all of our memories and physical stuff and packed them in my basement, and my house was quiet of his voice. But this year I gave myself the opportunity to put out some of his favorite things and a couple of happy pictures. I realize that the “new” me that I am trying to become, is built on he and I in our marriage relationship. I hope that when I do date, i will be able to share good memories without coming off as stuck. Sometimes I think in these days, as humans, we want everything “new”, new emotions, new feelings, new experiences, and that is good too, but we still have baggage and how we handle it , will be the test of a good relationship.

  18. I am a widow and I found dating me is not easy as I want both my own space and someone sensitive but not too sensitive with my loss. So although I met 2 men both acted liked my loss never occurred and both ignored it which made me uncomfortable so either one worked out and turned me away. It has been 7 years and it seems way too complicated to except the fact that for many years I was in a great relationship. Perhaps I am expecting too much

    • Kerry Catherine HagerFebruary 14, 2019 at 5:18 pmReply

      No, you are not expecting too much. Keep the bar high. You are worth it and your husband would not want you to settle. One of the things I did when I started dating was look at a website called beirresistable.com I know that sounds weird, but it had been so long since I dated I didn’t even know how to anymore. It actually really helped me just get to understand what men need from a woman in a healthy way. Develop the new you first, that’s when you have something to offer and you will attract the kind of man who can handle ‘all that and a bag of chips and a tall cool drink of water’ and your past too. All of you.

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