Ask Me Anything: I'm a young widow now remarried

By: Jane RahmanCC BY 2.0
In my mid-twenties my life was shattered when my first husband was killed in a car accident. With the support of friends and family I managed to put myself back together. After much soul searching and moments of extreme guilt, I decided to look for a new love. I managed to find someone that fit me perfectly and got remarried in my early thirties.

Whether it is about being a young widow, loss of a loved one, moving on after a relationship ends, survivor's guilt, the paperwork of death, how to help a loved one who is going through a loss, when support will be most well-received by the grieving, or even how dating in my early thirties was different than in my early twenties, ASK ME ANYTHING! -WhenOneDoorCloses

This is our first AMA post in Offbeat Home history. So let's hear it guys: "WhenOneDoorCloses" is standing by to answer your questions, and it seems like she has a LOT of life experience from which to draw on.

What have a you always wanted to know about when it comes to relationships and death, dating and grieving?

  1. I used to work with a woman who, years before, lost her husband when they had a young daughter together. She had remarked that she felt excluded by most groups for widows because she was often the youngest one there by several decades. Did you find this to be true? What support network, aside from family and friends, was helpful for you (if any)?

    4 agree
    • I did not got to formal groups. I did find an online support system where I lurked but never posted. The most surprising thing about the whole experience was how other formerly young widows found me. I had extended in-laws and family friends tell me about their experiences that I would never have know of. I would have never know the mother of one of my cousins had lost her first husband in almost the exact same way. Seeing that she went on to have a family changed my perspective on how I would move forward.

      6 agree
    • My Mum found this when my dad passed away, she was about 40 years younger than the other widows. She also found it really hard getting any support from various foundations as they though being young she would 'just get over it' (seriously, someone told us this 4 months after he died).
      The best support came from Mum expanding her friendship circle and meeting others who had lost husbands through other friends.

      1 agrees
  2. First off, thank you for offering to do this AMA.

    Secondly (and I know that this depends greatly on each individual), how can you help or support a loved one that experiences a sudden loss like this?

    1 agrees
    • At the time there is not much you can say. I am not a touchy person, but at the time I NEEDED tons and tons of hugs.

      I would say the biggest support came from those that contacted me about a week or so after. At first everyone is around you and caring for you. After the funeral they go how and you are alone. That's when it gets hard.

      So more that anything you can say, go for timing. Set a reminder to check in a week or a month after the funeral.

      13 agree
  3. AMA=great idea! I'm really curious if you had a plan in place before your husband was killed. Life insurance? Backup life plan? The potential practical implications of my husband dying terrify me – how would I pay the mortgage next month? Do I need to move back to my hometown (ugh) so my parents can help with our daughter? How do I know when the dog needs his flea medication? (Obviously, some more serious than others.)

    7 agree
    • We had life insurance through his work. I had no backup plan. Extended relatives helped with cash and contacts (funeral home that waited for the life insurance before ever sending a bills.) I had to get out of my lease (which they still made me pay extra for breaking!)

      I did move back home. It changed my relationship significantly with them. When you walk someone day by day through a tragedy you have a special bond that is different than the normal mother/daughter bond.

      As for the little stuff, I used his email account. It was weird and felt like an invasion, but I had to find out were I needed to call to get lights, gas, water, etc. turned off.

      5 agree
    • I'm a planner by nature (thanks mom!) and I had a coworker whose husband died suddenly and I saw how devastating it was financially so we've got this covered. I stay home with our young kids (one of whom has a disability) so we've set it up so that if he dies I'm completely covered financially (I'd actually be massively better off in the short term although possibly not the long term). In addition to a large life insurance policy through work (we pay extra for the max amount) he has a life/disability insurance policy that's tied to our mortgage (and is transferable to another house if we ever move). For $50 a month if anything happens to him the mortgage gets paid off instantly. That could have been cheaper but we're paying more so that we actually get all our money back at the end of the 30 years if we don't use the policy. We'd also at this point qualify for full Social Security survivors benefits and with the house paid off those would be more than enough to cover our monthly expenses leaving the large life insurance policy for college and any paid help I might need in the meantime.

  4. This caught my eye because I've been through this myself….when I was 23 I lost my high school sweetheart to a rare, fast-spreading bone cancer. I was young, naive, completely shattered, and it took me years to find peace. At 30, I remarried, to a guy who had been a longtime close friend of mine, and we now have 2 beautiful babies. My issue is this: When I reflect on my life now, and how strong my current marriage is, how blessed I feel to have our little family, I realize that I am the happiest and most content that I have ever been. And occasionally because of that I feel a stabbing sense of guilt and betrayal. 99% of the time, yes, I know All The Things (guilt isn't necessary, he would've wanted me to be love again and be happy, etc), and for the most part I've worked through all this in my head. But, my question to you is – Did you go through the survivor's guilt thing too? And if so, how did/do you deal with it? I'm really curious to get another young widow's perspective on this.

    11 agree
    • Wow "young, naive, completely shattered" so sums up me when it happened.

      Oh yes, oh yes I had survivors guilt! Still sometimes do. It was worse at first. Tough love from family was actually pretty helpful when I would get in a loop of it. I remember talking to my sister about feeling guilty that I was starting to have moments of happiness. She out right told me, "That's stupid! Your allowed to be happy!" Slowly after telling myself it over and over "Your allowed to be happy" turned into "Happiness is a choice."

      Milestones are still met with survivors guilt. There was a touch of sadness before my wedding. We are in the process of infertility treatment and that is very ripe for survivor's guilt. Thoughts of "his family line died out because I had something wrong with me" creep in when I am not looking.

      How did you deal with the birth of your babies? Was it joyous enough to to not have survivor's guilt?

      6 agree
      • I felt very similar, esp. with milestones too….Thank you for sharing your experience!

        As far as having my babies…as thrilled as I was to become a mother, and all the joy surrounding their respective births, to be honest, having them actually triggered more survivor's guilt for me, at least initially. I went through the happy highs of new motherhood tinged with the sadness of knowing my late husband never got to experience fatherhood. But, that being said, as time progresses it feels like motherhood is also bringing me a new sense of understanding and healing that I didn't have before. It helps me to imagine that maybe he is kind of watching over my kids, like a guardian spirit. I hope that your treatments are successful – best of luck to you.

        4 agree
  5. My husband is a police officer, so we actually have a lot set up in case he dies suddenly, and we've had lots and lots of discussions on how this would work. I'm trying to think of how to phrase my question in a sensitive way, so please forgive me, but what was the process like of deciding to date again? Practically I know that if he were to die I'd eventually start dating again and probably remarry, but when I think about it I just panic (but I've also not been put in that position, so no need to worry about it, right?). I'm sure it's a long, soul searching, emotional process, but what was your experience with it?

    2 agree
    • I was lonely is what it boiled down to when I am really honest about it. I had a fling about a year after with a wonderful sensitive man I would never have married because more practical life trajectory reasons. It was a pocket of time and neither had expectations of it being anything more than comfort (for both of us.)

      When I decided I didn't want to be a widow anymore and wanted a chance at a family it was a totally practical process after that. I did the whole online dating thing (harmony and match) and clicked the little "widow" button on my status. I figured if they were going to shy away from that then all the better to weed them out. I met my husband online and we are such a good match. Not to say that I did not have moments of guilt and sadness, but I was very practical it knowing what I wanted. "Job posting: Looking for loving introverted husband, please send resume, and write a cover letter with why you would be right for the job. Expect interview to take place over dinner or coffee which you will provide" (Joking, but not that far off.)

      13 agree
  6. My Fiance Mark took his life last Novemeber and to say the least, I've struggled. Trying to deal with his death and all that entails has certainly taken a toll and I worry a lot about the future. I just turned 30 this past June and I worry that I won't find someone nearly as remarkable to spend the rest of my life with and that children may just not be in my cards. I know I'm not ready to date yet but I wanted to know how you dealt with the whole dating situation. Did you tell dates eventually about your previous marriage? How do you even approach the subject? How did you even know you were ready to date? Any insight is helpful. Thank you for doing this!

    7 agree
    • In my darkest moments I wonder if my husband meant to kill himself by driving reckless/fast. I am sorry that you are living that nightmare.

      Dating was a combination of loneliness and desperation for touch at the beginning. My emotions and my hormones did not fully sync up. I wanted intimate contact way before I was emotionally even close to being ready. The man that I lost my widow-viginity with was a beautiful souled exotic creature (vacation soul searching "Eat, Pray, Love" type thing) that knew what I had been through. It was temporary from the start and allowed me let go enough to enjoy just spending time with someone. I wasn't husband replacing.

      I decided I still wanted a family and husband to come home to. I watched as friends started to have babies and husbands and felt jealous. I had to get to the place where I told myself it was okay to want those things. My life didn't end at 27 even though it seemed like it did.

      Once I accepted that I wanted those things and it was okay that I did, then I went about it by going online. I meet my first husband in college it the typical ways. This time around I didn't have the instant access of single men that I did going to a college with a 60% male:40% female ratio. I decided to go online instead of waiting for lightning to strike. I was upfront from the start. Match and eHarmony both have a widow marital status button. (Facebook and MySpace neither did and it often pissed me off. They have "It's Complicated" but not "Widow"!) I, however, did not put upfront that my fertility was questionable (A year with no baby, a heartbreaking miscarriage, but no formal testing), but saved that for when I started to get serious with my current husband. I let him know that I wanted kids more than anything, but there was a chance that it would be difficult road. I also had an idea of the type of man I was looking for which was actually little different from my late husband. (Less of a risk taker/reckless and more of a quiet stay at home kind of guy.)

      3 agree
    • Hi Amy,

      I just found your post… First time on this site… My fiance Kevin killed himself May 13, 2016. I don't really know what to say except that for me it's a very lonely place to be… It's impossible to describe to someone who hasn't been through it… I just stopped telling people. It would generally get really uncomfortable and they wouldn't know what to say and I didn't want to be the cause of anyone feeling that way. And really, there's nothing anyone can say you know?

      I could go on and on but what I really wanted to say is that I see you and I'm so very sorry for your loss. I hope that each day that passes gives you a little more breathing room. Be good to yourself

  7. Sorry for your loss and I'm pleased for you that you have been able to move on with your life.

    My question is this: How does your new husband cope with the memory of your first husband? Do you mark anniversaries, birthdays etc from your first marriage and is your husband a part of that?

    Also, are you still in contact with your first in-laws? My neighbours' daughter died several years ago and at first her husband visited them a lot but in recent years they only have contact on the anniversary of her death. Is that typical of a bereaved husband/wife would you say?

    3 agree
    • My husband is super supportive when I need time alone (anniversaries, birthdays, death anniversary, etc.) We don't talk about it for the most part. It is very different when your spouse knows that you would not have chosen to end your first marriage. That you would still be married if tragedy had not struck. It occasionally comes up casually and that is okay. Such as, "Oh, late husband and I used to go to that restaurant. They have really good falafel." But "Oh god I miss him sometimes" conversations are firmly planted in only discussed with family/close friends not current husband. We have our own sort of code i.e. "You know this time of year is hard for me" and he quickly gives me space for fear of having to talk about it or see me cry.

      My in-laws are out of country so I do not see them often. We keep in contact by Facebook but do not visit much anymore. I used to fly out more often and spent a lot of time with them after the death. I had to distance myself from them to be able to move on. This was very much because of my own emotions not because of lack of their support. They encouraged me to move and were truly happy for me when I got remarried. My brother-in-law's wife has told me the family had been very worried that I would not move on and they hated to see me throw away my chance at a happy family life. I absolutely adore my brother-in-law's wife. It was love at first sight maybe even more than with my first husband. Instant connection and friendship. I would be very sad if I had no contact with her.

      But I think it is very common to only see the in-laws at the death anniversary. Of other widow's that I have known it was necessary to put some distance between them to be able to move on. Everyone wants you to be happy, but there is some pain in actually seeing it.

      8 agree
      • I'm on the opposite end here. I'm the wife that married a widowed man and I belong to a support group for women like me, which has been invaluable.

        I will say that if my husband were still saying "we" referring to his late wife, or talking about things like "Oh, late wife and me loved that restaurant," asking me to be a part of important dates to his late wife, or commemorating his late wife still in any way then we would not be together. I don't think it's fair to create a situation where the first marriage's considerations are encroaching on the following marriage. It makes that person secondary, less than, and feeling pretty crappy.

        It's not to say that anyone should pretend the first marriage didn't happen, or that they loved, or that it wasn't important. It is absolutely a part of their history and life. But it's not okay to treat a new love badly because this happened. Putting them in a position to have to handle their partner's grief over another person is treating them poorly.

        Grieve however long anyone needs, just don't date until ready to full commit to the new person.

        8 agree
        • I feel like I am fully comment to my current husband and I was pretty much done grieving when I started to date, but that doesn't mean that I don't still have moments of sadness and survivors guilt. Guilt happens when you are the most happy.

          I am really glad that he is okay with occasional mentions. (It is truly rare now that we are well past our getting to know you faze.) We have a pretty good balance (for us) on what we are okay with from our past relationships. I even went on the exact same vacation that he took with his long term ex-girlfriend on because I really really wanted go there. I was glad to have someone that knew their way around and what was interesting and what was a waste of time/money.

          He knows exactly how happy I am that he has given me a second chance at love and family. The fact that he doesn't expect me to be stoic, make it all the more sweet. I try not to ever burden him with the grief. I have appropriate family outlets when the very rare moments of grief happen.

          For sure dating someone or marrying someone that was widowed or widowered is not for the feint of heart. I'm not sure I could do it!

          9 agree
      • One of the cousins in my family died a couple years ago, leaving behind his wife and two young children. It was a difficult, sudden death from swine flu. His wife's family is from the next state and we have been really struggling with the knowledge that she may still end up moving back home and cutting off much contact with our family. She did show up for some family functions during the fall/winter holidays last year that she never had before, I think she switched up some of their family traditions to help them move on while still getting to see the same people but on different holidays.

        What struck me was Christmas shopping. Have you ever tried to find a book for a 12 year old girl whose father is dead? My sister in law and mom and I were all trying to find a book for this girl with a strong female main character. All the books we could find were either dealing with the father dying, or else involved what I started calling Miraculous Dads–dads who show up and save our heroine (also not what I was going for from a "strong female lead" standpoint), Dads who went missing and the daughter goes on a quest to save him, that sort of stuff. Seriously, it was ASTOUNDING the number of books I found in the young adult section that involved "Dad is gone and everyone thinks he's dead, Daughter goes on a quest, Daughter gets into trouble, Dad saves her/she saves Dad, everyone lives happily ever after." The last thing I wanted was her to hate the book–and by extension the inconsiderate jerk who gave it to her–for having a dad that came back when everyone thought he was dead.

        The worst part of that story is I can't actually remember what book we ended up giving her. I think my sister in law ended up reading the book through before we gifted it just to make sure it wasn't going to end up with another Miraculous Dad.

        Anyway, the widow in this scenario seems to be adjusting as well as one can to being a single mom. But I think everyone has been focusing on making sure the kids are adjusting well and the kids are taken care of and no one really seems to be making sure his wife is alright. But to be fair, I'm not close enough to the situation to know that for sure.

        1 agrees
        • It is a common fantasy to wish your husband/father to magically reappear. I used to dream that I would wake up and it was all just a nightmare.

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        • The YA book Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume, is a beautifully done book about a teenage girl who is struggling to cope with the loss of her father. There is no "miracle dad" and the book focuses on real issues (onset of puberty, questions about identity, grieving and loss). The main character is a sensitive girl who struggles in very believable and natural ways to become an empowered young woman. I was gifted this book when I was twelve years old, after the suicide of my best friend from childhood. I can't overstate how enormously helpful it was in helping me to understand the emotions that I felt but, at that time, could not articulate.

          4 agree
          • Thank you for your recommendation for the book, Tiger Eyes. My husband just died about 3 months ago and left no only me, but a 15 year old son and 13 year old daughter. My daughter LOVES tigers for some reason and because of your comment I think I will look into that book. Might be good.

            Thank you for taking the time to post that.

            K

            2 agree
  8. i don't know if you had children with your late husband or not…i was 32 weeks pregnant with my son when my husband was killed at his business (a little over three years ago), and i'm now living with someone new (almost two years now) and we're engaged to be married. the trouble i'm having is with communication with his mother, my son's grandmother. i feel like i really can't draw any lines or enforce any boundaries without her taking it as a personal slight, and try as i might i cannot get her to take my fiance seriously as an authority figure for my son. even if you don't have kids, how do you get your former ILs (i still refer to them as my ILs, lol) to take your new life seriously without them thinking you've forgotten your old life?

    1 agrees
    • We did not have any children so I am not sure how to deal with ILs in that capacity. My ILs have been very good respecting my new life.

      I would have a crazy hard time dealing with my first mother-in-law if there was a child involved (although a sacrifice I would gladly deal with to be on the other side from the childless side of the fence.) If she emails, maybe you could send her little things you remember when they pop into your head. "Your grandbaby just crossed his eyes and stuck out his tongue at me, your son used to do that when he wanted to make me laugh. He looked just like his father. I really miss him. I know you do to."

      For the old fashioned seriousness sometimes comes with the actual marriage. She might have issues with you setting an example for her grandchild that goes against her values. I totally lived with my current husband before we got married so that is not meant as a judgement! I just doubt my in-laws would have approved if they had known about it.

      3 agree
  9. What is your advice for couples who may have to deal with the death of their partner? We all know we could die at any time, but not many of us take that knowledge and apply it practically. What do you wish you and your husband had done ahead to make it easier for you or to make you feel less guilty or whatever you think would have helped you?

    1 agrees
    • I'm not sure anything could prepare you for the emotional side of it. I think it might even tie you down with guilt when you go against what the "plan" was or what you said you would do.

      The practical side of things I have a ton of advice. Know what your spouse would want as a funeral arrangements. (Embalming? Headstone? Burial at sea? Cremation? Mausoleum? Donation to a medical school?) These are not decisions you want to make when you have been up for 48 hours and have a headache from hell from crying and a stomach that is too nervous to keep any food down. We had a wonderful funeral home that was supper accommodating and helpful and that did not attempt to oversell or take advantage. I, however, watched my grandmother get swindled out an extra $6000 dollars for a funeral that was supposed to be prepaid by my grandfather.

      The other practical advice would be to have online bills in a joint email account example: AndersonFamilyHome @ gmail.com. (Not my real address!) That way you do not have to try to get into a private email account to pay the bills. I could not get the electric company to talk to me because my name was not on the account. I had a full on crying and cussing melt down on the phone which was met with "I'm sorry ma'am, but we will have to see a death certificate and a copy of your marriage license to do anything to this account or even give you an account summary."

      Separate life insurance for in-laws especially if either mother is widowed or in anyway dependent on their child. Talking about money is uncomfortable especially with all the heightened emotions. I had relative of my mother-in-law demand to see my bank accounts (even after giving my mother-in-law quite a bit of money and paying off all of her debts.) The rest of the family was furious that he had done that to me. It really sucked.

      The paperwork of death is exhausting! I would suggest +10 certified copies of your marriage certificate and if you were ever put in that situation at least 10 copies of the dead certificate (even though they charge extra.)

      1 agrees
      • Thank you! My husband is older than I am to the point that it's highly unlikely I would die first. But I try to prepare for both possibilities.

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      • As someone preparing for a wedding, I just wanted to say thanks for the advice re: email accounts. That wouldn't have occurred to me, and it's a really great solution for the whole modern era of internet everything. (Just occurred to me that we can set up a gmail and just have it auto-forward to both of us, too, so we never have to actually check it.)

        2 agree
        • Yeah, this never even occurred to me… but my husband would be the one who would be figuring out the bills, since they're all attached to my email. But we also both have our personal emails linked to our iPad, so he could get in and check if he needed to (and I could check through his too). But I like the idea of an "family" email for joint accounts.

  10. I really like the idea of OBHF Ask Me Anythings.

    Everyone's partner has shortcomings. Are there qualities (no need for specifics) that your current husband has that you wished your first husband did? How do you handle that comparison? Does it affect how you think about your late husband?

    4 agree
    • My first husband was like a little humming bird. He was always flitting around from one place to the other. He was a natural born extrovert and I was wildly attached to his energy and exuberance. An introvert myself, I would sit back and just watch him. I do not miss having to keep up with his energy level. We were always going to friends houses (he had at least 5 people who were convinced that they were his best friend.) He never stopped moving. If he had to sit down he would fidget. This same sort of energy was what ended up killing him. He drove too fast going to visit some friend and flipped the car over.

      My current husband is a fellow introvert. We cuddle and watch TV. We spend lazy Sundays curled up in bed. When we have people over its only one or two people not loud parties with tons of guests. We are way more each others speed. It makes for a much more comfortable cozy life.

      6 agree
      • Thanks so much for your response. If you don't mind answering, does the big personality difference between your husbands affect how you think about your first husband? Do you ever wonder if he was "right" for you, given that your second partner is different in some very fundamental ways? Or do you feel an equal, if different, love for both of them?

        1 agrees
        • I don't think my view of my first husband has changed since being with my second husband. I never wonder if he was right for me or anything like that. I was crazy in love with him in a first love sort of way. I was not unhappy by any means.

          I think it is also a product of age. What intrigues me at 22 (when I met my first husband) is different than I was looking for at 30 (when I met my second husband.)

          I love them both the same but I am different than I was before the accident. I wasn't looking for a replacement. I was looking for a new partner.

          My first husband was heart then mind. My second husband was mind then heart.

          My first husband was the outfit in the closet that is stylish, that fits just right, and makes you feel good about yourself. Ready to take on the world. Absolutely your favorite. My second husband is the softest most cozy t-shirt in the closet with the most comfy yoga pants that were ever made. Absolutely your favorite. Neither one is perfect in every situation. No one wants to sit at home in their favorite dress nor do they want to go to a party in their cozy t-shirt. Doesn't mean you love either one less or more.

          My husbands do have a number of things in common. They both love their families and had similar upbringing (cared for by primary extended family.) They are both quick to laugh. The are both give an exceptional silent treatment when they are mad. They both love good rich and spicy food. They both have very similar jobs. We all went to the same college at the same time. (We did not know each other at the time but my current husband and his then girlfriend frequented the same hole in the wall restaurants that my first husband and I went to. We went to the same little mom and pop grocery store. We went to the same coffee shop. We even had friends in common!)

          I don't believe in soul mates. I believe you can have more than one deep real love in your life.

          51 agree
  11. Best piece of advice I got from another widow: No matter what, every day get out of bed, take a shower, and get out of the house even if it is just to walk around the outside of the house if that is all you can muster. You can spend the rest of the day crying and grieving if you need to. As long as you do those things everyday you'll be fine.

    12 agree
  12. OBH&L: Please do more of these!

    Do you still feel angry at your late husband for the accident? How do/did you deal with that anger? If I were in that situation, I imagine that I would be overcome with anger more than anything else, which is odd because I am not an angry person in general.

    2 agree
    • Yeah, I had same crazy anger at him after he got himself killed! I don't know how many times I told him over the years to slow down driving, that he was going to get us killed. He always laughed at me, dropped down maybe 5mph, and acted like I worried too much.

      The real anger came about a month into widowhood. When the reality of being alone really set in. But being angry at a dead man doesn't do much good. It's not like they argue back or fuel the fire. I feel a lot less angry now that I am remarried. I don't feel like he stole my whole life away like I did at first.

      4 agree
  13. I am actually wondering more about trying to date in your early 30s. I've had several serious and lengthy relationships but they have all ended, and I'm wanting to find someone to settle down with, but have been feeling very hopeless about it all. I'm a fellow introvert, and without the support of a college atmosphere it's really hard to meet anyone.

    Did it take a lot of time and effort with the dating sites to find someone? Do you have any advice about the best use of dating sites to find a marriage-partner in your early 30s? Did you ever have to recalibrate or change your standards or ideas of who you wanted because you weren't finding anyone within your initial parameters? Did you get frustrated with the search, and if so, how did you deal with that frustration?

    1 agrees
    • Online dating is FULL of introverts. It's the introverts version of a hot night club. These were my parameters: Must have college education, preferably science minded over religious, within 5 years young to 10 years older, must enjoy traveling, must enjoy frequent quiet nights at home hanging out. My husband fits the bill.

      eHarmony was a great starter site. Most of the dates are not true disasters. I went on lots of coffee dates. I met lots of interesting people even if there was no spark. It got me out and about. I ended up meeting my husband on match.com and that site took more filtering of people. My husband contacted me after I had changed my profile picture (to what he calls a "less flattering" picture) He had filtered me out as "out of his league" with the old picture!

      Be honest with your profile. It seems to attract the most people when you seem real. Change pictures often. Go on all dates when offered (unless they set off alarm bells of course.) You never know when someone will have an unexpected spark.

      My husbands online dating philosophy was very different from mine. He spent way more time filtering out profiles and I was his one and only contact that he made.

      We have have thought about writing a book about our very different but equally successful experience of online dating.

      12 agree
  14. I actually don't have a question I just want to say that I've enjoyed reading your insights, advice and analogies. You express yourself very well, and I want to thank you for how honest and classy you've been in your responses. You experienced one of my biggest fears but give me hope that even if something tragic happens to my husband it will one day be ok.

    Thank you for sharing with us.

    72 agree
    • Thank you! I cringe at all my misprints, but I hope people have enjoyed the content 🙂

      I look forward to getting to be on the other side of the AMAs next round!

      5 agree
  15. Thank you s much for agreeing to do this, these have been beautiful answers to read.

    Can I ask – what do you do about old photos of you and your first husband, and wedding photos? Do you have anywhere that you can keep them and look at them without it being objectionable to your new husband?

    4 agree
  16. I don't have any specific questions, but I do want to say that I love the idea of Ask Me Anything, and I think this is a really meaningful topic.

    I'm not married, but I always wonder how I would handle the death of a husband. I don't think I would handle it well, but it is helpful for me to read these questions/comments at least to give me a framework so that it doesn't seem to be quite as much "Never get married because you could lose your husband and it would be too painful." Which is sometimes how I feel. But it is good for me to read that life does eventually go on.

    I recently saw a play on this topic called "Be a Good Little Widow." It was fantastic and explored a lot of aspects of young widowhood. And it did it in a really human, really touching, and really accessible way. Its focus was especially on the relationship between the young widow and her mother-in-law, also widowed. So if this shows in your town, I would highly recommend it!

    Another book I absolutely love is A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. It is about a man whose wife dies younger than they expected. He never starts dating or re-marries in the book, so it doesn't address that. But it was interesting to hear about how he examined their relationship after her death and gained a new understanding of that relationship, and of his late wife. Anyway, I just found it a fascinating exploration of the human heart. "A Biography of a Love," I think he calls the book.

    • Thanks for the heads up about the play. I am glad that no one forced me to "be a good little widow."

      2 agree
  17. I don't have any questions, I just want to thank you for your honesty and insight. It's beautiful to be able to talk (or in this case just read) to other human beings on a such a deep and personal level. It makes me feel less lonely somehow. It's also wonderful to know that if the unthinkable were to happen, life can be okay.
    I hope there will be many many more AMA's on OBH! I love this format!

    5 agree
    • I was a pleasure to get to "talk" with everyone as well. I can't say that I talk about worse fears and hopes in everyday life.

  18. I needed this so much right now. My husband's about to deploy and the reality of him possibly not coming back is setting in.

    3 agree
    • Thank you both for your service to our country. Knowing what I do know about what life is like right after losing a spouse, I do not think that I would ever be able to be married to someone with a dangerous job.

      I hope your husband has an uneventful deployment and tour.

      3 agree
    • Hi Marlene, I am an Army wife who has been through 1 deployment thus far. I found that support through the FRG or online communities was really helpful. I remember the sleepless nights when a rumor of casualties had come through the unofficial channels, waiting for the official DoD release of the after-action report, praying that there is no knock on the door in the meantime. It still fills with me with dread just thinking about it.

      If you ever need someone to talk to or chat with, we can figure out some way to connect.

  19. You're obviously a very strong woman, and I'm in awe of your bravery by talking about what's what one of the most traumatic incidents one can experience. I'm left unsure how to end this, except to wish you the best of luck.

    3 agree
  20. First, thank you so much for offering to answer questions.

    Second, my question is something I've thought about recently since my grandmother passed. She remarried after my grandfather died (before I was born), but I feel strange thinking about where she will be buried. Next to my biological grandfather and with my aunts and uncles, or in a grave next to an empty spot waiting for my step-grandfather with whom she had no children? What about in the afterlife? Will she and my grandfather and my step grandfather and his passed first wife just all hang out together (assuming you subscribe to christianity as they did)?

    Just wondering your thoughts on this, as I'm having a hard time as a wife of only four months thinking about what I would do if my husband were to suddenly no longer be with me.

    • My first husband was devout Hindu, so he was cremated within 24 hours as per tradition. I personally want to be donated to science and if that is not possible cremated. My current husband wants a burial at sea or if that is not possible "whatever is cheapest." (Mr. Practical) So, we do not have any issues of burial plots.

      I am not very religious, but if their is an afterlife I think we will be free from attachments or thoughts.

      3 agree
  21. I'm marrying a man aged thirty who was widowed at nineteen. It took him a decade to find someone new, to date again. We talked about it at first, but now I tend not to bring it up except with tighter cuddles at that time of year. I sometimes want to let him know that he can talk about it to me if he wishes, but equally don't want to dredge up memories.

    Thank you WhenOneDoorCloses, and Offbeat Home, for talking about this subject.

    1 agrees
    • He is very lucky to have you! It sound like you are doing exactly what he needs.

      1 agrees
  22. Oh my heavens. Thank you.

    My question might be a bit farther removed from your exact experience than others but perhaps you might still have valuable insights.

    What is best or how do you comfort someone who's experiencing a loss that you have no frame of reference for? That man I'm in love with is having a horribly rough time dealing with the imminent death of his mother (she's just been diagnosed with brain cancer a month ago on top of the lung cancer she's been battling for years). I have never experienced the death (impending or otherwise) of anyone close to me, let alone a parent. I have no idea what to do to help or just make other things easier or anything. I know he's hurting and struggling but I never know what to say or do. Do you have any advice?

    Thank you again for doing this AMA, it's been astounding.

    2 agree
    • And to top it all off, his father was just airlifted last night to the hospital and is now sedated in ICU. In CA. We're in NY.

    • Sorry you are going through such a tough time and separated from your loved ones. I would say that it is not so much what is said (Although, avoid things like "God has a plan" and "Everything happens for a reason." These seemed to hurt a little extra and made my blood boil.)

      The biggest help was the people who were just there. Take extra walks. It is easier talking while walking or in a car because you don't have to look someone in the eye. Eye contact was guarantied instant tears for me. Not to mention it is painful for your loved ones to see such pain in your eyes. Small doses of eye contact are about all anyone can handle when in distress. Let your husband set the pace of what he is ready to talk about.

      As someone that had an unexpected loss, I don't know much about dealing with the drawn out illness side of things. Sorry that I cannot be of more help.

      2 agree
      • There are several resources which address helping friends and loved ones in times of grief. I lost my Grandmother, my Mother, and my boyfriend in the space of two years, and the truth is that people who mean well can say some ignorant and hurtful things to you.

        My two favorite books which address this issue and give good advice about what to say and do for the bereaved are Harold Kushner's classic "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" and "Call Me If You Need Anything and Other Things Not to Say" by Cathy Peterson Owen.

        2 agree
    • Sorry to jump in but I lost my mother a couple of years ago and my fiancĂ© had very little experience of death. She had breast cancer several years before and they didn't manage to catch it all.

      In my experience there isn't a lot that can be said or done which I doubt helps! At times I jumped from tears to shouting to staring at a wall in a short space of time. The best thing my fiancé did for me was make sure I kept going with the day-to-day stuff. I insisted on going to work each day so he made sure I had a lunch and money for public transport. He made sure we had food in the cupboard and the bills were paid. All this freed me up to concentrate on my mum's health and my families well-being.

      ETA: In line with what WhenOneDoorCloses has said…A very good friend of mine said to me "You've got to stay strong for your mum" and although I agree in principle I wasn't with my mum at the time. Thankfully I had other friends that allowed me to rant and rave which then allowed me to be strong when it was needed. It was very Jeckyll and Hyde but I needed those times away from my mum to get everything out of my system.

  23. I really just want to say (other than thanks for sharing, your responses have been so wonderful) that I admire how brave you are/have been. My fiance is an electrician, and while he is all about safety first, it is too easy for another sparky to make a silly error, putting my fiance's life at risk. I ponder this more than I probably should, and I wonder what I would do if one day he just never came home from work. Honestly I think I'd become a hard-shelled hermit, buy 9 dogs and 5 cats and close myself off from the world. The fact that you did something productive about your loneliness and happened to find someone perfect for you is so lovely to hear. I really commend you for the bravery I think that would have taken. I am really glad that you have found true happiness despite such a tragic loss 🙂

    3 agree
  24. Thank you so much for writing this blog. I just lost my fiancé in a hit-and-run and I feel like my world is over. I too am 27. He was my best friend and we were so madly in love. I hate that I had to write that sentence in past tense. He IS my best friend and we ARE so madly in love. I'm very much in shock and denial with my grief. Don't get me wrong. I'm crying and screaming but for the most part, this still just doesn't feel real.

    This series of questions and answers have actually given me hope and have reminded me that though I feel so alone, people have shared my experience and came out on top. Thank you, thank you.

    2 agree
  25. Hey, sorry to jump in late. I was 18 years old when I got married, It was an arranged marriage. Once I started talking to my fiance I started to fall in love but after marriage it was on peak. I'm 19 years old now and my husband has passed away just a month and a half ago. I love him so dearly and I think that the kind of relationship I had with him, I may not have with anybody else in this world. But I've experienced rapid changes in my life which I would never think that I would be happy to live but that has happened right? My older sisters who are not married yet, they keep on saying to me that I'm too young and that at this age we fall in love deeply soon and get over soon but I don't know if that will ever happen. He died of sudden cardiac arrest and I was so not ready for it. As we returned from a very nice trip, he passed away, the very same day. I was babied by my husband. He was 10 years older than me. And he was also babied by me. I wonder if I'll ever get that companionship ever. How does it feel to be with somebody else after your husband has died. Do you think it is much more easier for me to cope with the situation or to be hopeful because I'm too young plus I have no kids. My sister said to me that sometimes we mistake infatuation for love. I dont doubt my love for my husband but maybe I also get somebody in my life whom I get really comfortable with and feel that okay 'He is the one'. Can that ever happen?

  26. I know I'm so late to this post but I really appreciate how you answer everybody's questions, it truly is helpful. I'm recently widowed at the age of 21, and I miss my best friend so much. I liked how you explained the differences between your late husband and new husband. My grief is still so new, so of course I'm still at the point where I can't imagine being with someone else, but I'm sure when you were with your late husband there were so many things he did that you loved or you were used to. Was it hard to go into a new relationship knowing you would not have those little things anymore, and that things were going to be different with a new guy? Or did things just fall into place fore you? All can think about is how comfortable and happy I was with my husband, and how free I was with him. Do you ever get that back with someone else?
    Thanks so much for all your help. I'm glad you found happiness again.

  27. I'm going to make this short and sweet, I'm dating a women that was widowed. I'm frantically searching for help understanding her position on different topics.

    I don't want to make things harder for her but I struggle when I don't understand how she feels about certain things. The topic I'm specifically looking for advice on involves the in-laws. her and I are only 8 months in and has a 2 year old daughter so please understand that I've kept this in mind as you read along.

    The brother of her late husband is getting married in July and to be quite honest I really do not want to meet them in this setting (it just seems inappropriate) but My girlfriend doesn't want me to go because she doesn't want to disrespect their union the only reason she's going is because her daughter is in the wedding party I'm really worried that this is the standard that will be set, that I'm not welcome to things involving that side of her daughters family, in fact my girlfriend would rather I not meet them until her and I are married but I don't feel comfortable marrying her without meeting these people. I respect she wishes to honor her late husband by making them a part of her daughters life but I feel that if she wishes to become something serious with me then when do I become part of the package deal with her because at the moment from the family I feel like the guy who their daughter in-law is having an affair with and that I'm some sort of leper. I feel rather selfish for feeling this way and would like some insight so i could move forward and support her better without disrespecting myself.

  28. I don't know if this is still open but it's been five months since my wife passed away I'm 23 and I'm not over it yet but something inside tells me to move on even though it's only been five months. Is this ok? Am I horrible person? But my main question is that I have recently had feelings for my wife's sister I don't know if it's because of familiarity or something but I can't shake this feeling that we were meant to be together (horrible I know) but we like the same music and jokes and food and pretty much most things we enjoy I've never had prolonged interaction with her before but I still have feelings none the less. Any advice please and thank you in advance.

    • Hello,

      I was wondering if you still had the same issue. Your last post was 8 months ago.

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