How to Date a Widow/er

I’m posting a list one of my friends wrote. Yes I asked him first. I so identify with this list. I also think anyone thinking to date a widowed person should read and really understand it before getting in a relationship with someone who has been widowed.

Dating a widowed person is not like dating a single person or a divorcee. A break up or divorce isn’t the same as a death. And it never will be. No matter how heartbreaking the split was. I’ve met wids who, like myself, have been widowed and divorced. Some say their divorce was harder on them. Some say the death. All say the two are different.

You would think this would be easy to understand. But I’ve learned it isn’t. Some people truly think it is ok to treat them the same. And it just isn’t. Simply as I can put it: an ex is just that. An ex. They are alive. You can still call them. Their kids can still know them. Even if they don’t know them when they are little they can look them up as adults. The reality is they are still alive.

A late spouse: not alive. I can’t call Stephen. I can’t text him. Logan will never know his dad. He can’t look him up and meet him as an adult. Death is permanent. And it’s important to remember that if you want to date a widowed person.

So onto the list:

1) The husband and wife are dead. DEAD. Not coming back. Will never be in the picture. No chance of making new memories or trying to rekindle the relationship. Never going to be a their child’s events. Dead.

2) They are staying dead. The only final thing in life is death. Period. People do not come back to life. Once they are dead they are gone. For good. Period. The new person doesn’t have to worry about them coming back (unlike an ex who could). Dead is dead. They will literally never be back in the picture. No matter what.

3) They, by the very nature of being dead, do not pose any immediate threat to any new love interest. Really. They can’t come back and try to get their spouse back. They are forever gone. The same can’t always be said for an ex. Thus treating an ex spouse like a dead spouse is just dumb. It isn’t the same. They are literally of no threat to your relationship. At all. In any way shape or form.

4) They will (most likely) always love their deceased spouse. This is a fact for most widowed people. As it wasn’t a break up or divorce the two were not separated because of a loss of love. They are separated because one of them died. They literally loved each other for better or worse till one of them died. And here is the thing. Death doesn’t end love. When we say till death most people are promising to love someone till they themselves in fact die. We aren’t saying once you are ashes I will forget you. We are saying I will love you till the day I die. If I’m still alive I still love you. You are forever in my heart.

(It’s worth referring to points one to three if point four comes with any discomfort)

5) They will still grieve (grief is a stubborn SOB and it will probably show its face on birthdays, anniversaries, at Christmas and whenever the hell else it wants to. So a new relationship doesn’t mean the end of an old one)

Expanding on this. Grief happens. Thinking someone having a moment a grief means they aren’t ready to date is just wrong. And honestly kind of self centered. Thinking someone should never grieve because you have come in their life isn’t ok. They will still have moments. A new love didn’t just fix what was taken. And they can and will fully love you while still grieving what they lost. It can happen. We can totally love our new person and still have moments of missing what we thought we would have in life. And who we had it with. And that’s ok. Grief happens. Let it. The worst you can do is let it upset you. To take it personal. To demand they hide it from you and then wonder why they don’t tell you things and you don’t have a close relationship. It has nothing to do with you. And that’s ok. If this is hard please re read points one to three. A moment of grief doesn’t being the dead back to life.

6) They might not have a precise life plan anymore by virtue of the fact that life so abruptly unplanned itself the first time around. I’ve seen people claim that this is a red flag. And it always makes me laugh. People are allowed to be a bit lost. Yes you want someone who has their shit together. Everyone does. But if a widowed person is gun shy on a life plan give them some grace. It’s truly unnerving to know you had your life planned with someone and then that person, and all the plans you had with them, are just gone. Like they never existed. It freaking sucks. And it’s hard to want to set out on a new plan when you know it could all just disappear again. It’s not a red flag. Its part of the process. The person that often was our biggest cheerleader, the person doing our life plan with us, is gone. And it’s hard to want to keep going on that plan. Or any plan for that matter. Life will come back together. But it can take time before we have faith in any kind of of plan again.

I type all this out as someone who has been divorced and widowed. As someone engaged to a widower. Seeing different perspectives of the things on this list. My divorce was hard. Anyone that hung out with me during that time knows that. I broke. I don’t believe in divorce. And having to live that was the hardest thing I had ever had to do. And I was a mess. I did some really crazy stupid things. I was so miserable. Trying to figure out who I was after doing something I believed to my core was not ok. Then I found Stephen. And I learned what love really meant. What it meant to be with someone though better or worse. To go through things that most people divorce over and make it out the other side. Because we picked each other. Because rather then giving up we picked our marriage. It was not easy. But we did it. And we ended up so much stronger on the other side. And then in an instant he was dead. The single only person I ever knew I could not live without was dead. And I wasn’t ok. I was going to have to live without him. I was more than broken. A part of me also died that day. And that part of me isn’t coming back.

Do I love my ex husband? No. I’m not mad at him anymore. More so just indifferent. I hope he has grown up and is a better husband to his wife now and a good dad to their kids. I wish them the best.

Do I love my late husband. Yes. Period. I will love him till the day I die. When I said till death I absolutely meant I would love him till the day I died. And I will.

Do I love Jonathan. Yes. My love for Stephen hasn’t made me unable to love Jonathan. My heart grew. I learned to let someone new in. My love for Stephen taught me how to love someone else. To truly be able to love. And it’s a beautiful thing.

Dating a widowed person isn’t easy. I will never say it is. They had a life and a relationship before you met them. They had love before you met them. And you coming into their life didn’t erase that. And shouldn’t. A persons past should be respected. Any person. Not just the widowed. It shouldn’t be erased. It can’t be. It should be respected. Our life experiences make us the persons we are. And that shouldn’t be feared and never spoken of. It should be celebrated.

I love Jonathan for who he is. The man he is. The dad he is. The partner he is. I love him in his own right. He is an addition to my life that I am so very grateful to have. And Bethany is a part of his past. His story. And because of that I show her respect. I will never demand he not speak of her. I will never be upset about a picture. I will celebrate her birthday and their wedding anniversary. As they are part of Jonathan’s life. Woven into the fabric of what makes him who he is. She isn’t coming back to steal Jonathan from me. She is in fact dead. Showing respect for her and the relationship they had doesn’t change that fact. Though it does bring me and Jonathan closer. He doesn’t have to fear her name coming up and me freaking out. He doesn’t have to worry if her pic in his office upsets me. There is no fear about how I will respond during life events that she should have been at, but isn’t. She doesn’t get to be there with her family. Instead I am here with her family. I’m in a spot that should be hers. Honoring her memory. Hoping to honor her by how I treat her family. Because she will always be loved. Even by me.


#thatwidowedmom #lifeafterloss #howtodateawidow #howtodateawidower

2 thoughts on “How to Date a Widow/er

  • Wow. Thank you. It isn’t the dating so much as the social perspective. I look at it this way, if my mom died on mother’s day, her birthday and every Facebook memory of a picture of her popped up I would likely share it… Why wouldn’t I do the same with my husband? I am, like my children are part of his living legacy. I like to think people will look at a post and think of their time with Keith and smile. Not pity me and wonder why I haven’t gotten over it or moved on. If it were my mom I would be sad and grateful on Mother’s Day. I have learned what true reconciliation means- living in a space of joy and sorrow. I think many who have love and lost would understand that sentiment of two opposing feelings raging inside you in a moment in time. I can reconcile my life, my emotions and move forward in and with much love. These words… Well done! & Thank you

  • He’s dead! You can’t be threatened by a dead guy! And frankly, my dead husband is the father to my children and will ALWAYS be part of our lives. But that doesn’t mean I can’t love again. There’s NO LIMIT to love.

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