The lessons and best practices featured in Herb Knoll’s breakout book, The Widower’s Journey were the topics of discussion during Channel 45 favorite show, Welcome Home with Barbara Beck. The program aired four times every other day for two weeks in January 2018.
Herb Knoll has joined the distinguished faculty that will comfort and assist widowed men and women of all ages during the 2018 Bereavement Cruise, February 12-17, 2018. What a great way to share one’s grief with those who grieve the significant loss of a loved one. To learn more, see http://www.j3hhh.com.
Nov. 15, 2017 Author of the new breakout book, The Widower’s Journey, Herb Knoll will be the guest of a syndicated talk show, broadcasted from the Ft. Myers, Florida studios of W4WN Radio (Women 4 Women Network). The host of the show is Camille Sanzone, author of AT THE END OF YOUR ROPE? TIE KNOT & HANGE ON!
DEAR ABBY: My wife died of cancer four years ago. She was my best friend, and the pain of losing her was more than I could cope with. I was in a fog for about two years, just going through the motions.Eventually the fear of spending the next 20 to 30 years alone drove me to try internet dating. I met some nice women and some very strange ones, but nothing came of it. Then a year ago, an old friend introduced me to “Elaine.” We hit it off immediately. We share the same interests and offbeat sense of humor, and I have grown fond of her. She’s intelligent, kind and easy on the eyes. Our grown kids get along very well.
Our mutual friend told me that Elaine said she loves me and would be thrilled if I proposed — I guess to encourage me to the next level. My problem is, I’m still in love with my late wife. If Elaine one day tells me she loves me, how do I respond without hurting her feelings or making her withdraw? I can see myself loving her in the future, but I am still silently mourning my wife. I don’t want to chase Elaine away, so please tell me what to do. — NEW YORK WIDOWER
DEAR WIDOWER: You and Elaine appear to have a communication problem. You are both adults. If she has fallen in love with you, you shouldn’t have to hear it from a mutual friend. You owe it to her to have a frank talk with her because she needs to know that you don’t intend to remarry until you are over the loss of your late wife. She may decide to stick it out and wait or, as you say, decide to move on. But at least she’ll know what she’s dealing with. It might also be a good idea for you to consult a grief therapist. Because if you do, it may make it easier for you to move forward with your life.
Dear Ms. Phillips (Abby):
I read with great interest your recent column titled Widower Not Ready for Romance with Friend.” As the founder of the Widowers Support Network and the author of the new breakout book titled The Widower’s Journey, I thought I would offer a few suggestions that you may wish to share with your readers.
Background: “Mister I don’t have a damn thing for you.” These were the words spoken to me by the clerk at my local Barnes & Noble bookstore after my bride of sixteen years, Michelle (52) died after battling pancreatic cancer for thirty-nine months. I knew I needed help and was devastated when I couldn’t find it. It was at this precise moment that I knew I had to write a book designed to comfort and assist the 420,000 new widowers in America each year.
Finally, a book is written for widowers, by widowers (over 40 of them). And for good measure, I recruited fifteen subject matter experts volunteered their sage advice over nine years of research and writing. The Widower’s Journey was released in April of this year and is available on Amazon.com in both paperback and in digital formats.
Your inquiry from New York Widower is tragic but unfortunately not unusual. He (and all of your readers) may find the following helpful.
An excerpt from The Widower’s Journey – Chapter 7, Dating – Barriers.
“Many men doubt that they have the capacity to love again or that their hearts have room for both the loving memories of their late wife and love for a new woman. Widower Harold Moran hit the nail on the head for me when he said, “Having a love so strong and pure and then losing it left me wondering if it was possible ever again to have what was lost.”
“Plus, the memory of being a caregiver is a traumatic one, and the thought of being a caregiver again makes us hesitant. Following his experience as a caregiver, one contributing widower viewed a new relationship as a possibility of having to care for someone again until she dies. “That’s a big issue for me,” he admitted. “I would love again. I just don’t know that I’m ready to take on the responsibility of helping someone else in the process of dying.” Such thinking is on the minds of many. Being a caregiver once is hard enough.
“And there is guilt. “I didn’t date anyone for months after my wife passed away,” said widower Steve Marquardt. “And when I finally did, I felt like I was cheating.” Some men receive a kind of permission, which can be a blessing. Said widower John Heffernan: “Mary told me it was okay to be happy with someone else. And that such a day will come.”
“As I said, one of my major reservations was guilt over seeing another woman after my years with Michelle. But the psychologist I saw reminded me how I was married before I married Michelle. Even though my first marriage ended in divorce after twelve years; I must have loved my first wife at some point.
The human heart is capable of loving more than one person, and to love again doesn’t diminish or betray the love you once had.
“My brother Dave asked me an important question: “If you knew Michelle would die after 16 years, would you still have married her?” Of course, I said yes. David’s question taught me to draw circles around periods of my life. Having done so, I know I felt free to move on to the next. “Now we come to a delicate subject: What place should your late wife have in your life as you enter into a new relationship? A woman I know sought my advice when she discovered that her fiancé continued to write messages to his late wife on the Legacy.com website. It had been nearly ten years since his wife had died. One of the notes he posted said, “I still miss you dearly.”
“Professor Carr says that “Just because a man is reminiscing about his former life doesn’t mean he loves his new girlfriend orspouse any less. But he needs to be able to integrate those two parts of his life. Most experts agree that holding on to memories of the deceased loved one is healthy. Looking at photos and even having imaginary conversations (‘What would my late wife say about this?’) can be a source of support and solace. Memories of a late wife should enhance rather than impede a widower’s life.”
“However, she cautions that if these memories prevent a widower from fully engaging in his everyday life—things like dating, going to work, visiting with friends, and developing plans for the future—then such continuing bonds are a problem.
“A new partner needs to understand that a previous relationship is part of the fabric of someone’s life, Dr. Carr says. “Even if a widower or widow doesn’t discuss their deceased spouse with their new partner, they still may wish to re-tell a story about how they had a difficult health care decision to make, a problem with a doctor, or a bad experience when traveling to the hospital. A new partner should be a friend as well as a love interest, and friends should be able to talk honestly and openly about almost anything, without fear of judgment or the withholding of affection.”
“Clinical psychologist Edward Zimmer explains that a type of emotional integration is essential for the widower to be able to love again. The widower needs to combine his memories, feelings and continuing connection to the deceased with his emotional experiences in his new relationship, and to see his loss as a part of his whole, new life. “He is a widower, but he could now be a second husband or stepfather. His loss is a part of who he is, and that loss should not be denied or otherwise split off from him.” Zimmer says a widower’s life with his previous partner should be recognized and accepted by his new partner, even if he chooses not to discuss it with her. “And once again we need to circle back to the importance of fully grieving. “A widower accomplishes this by allowing himself to grieve completely so it is psychologically unnecessary to split off or deny the emotional memories of his loss from his new emotional investment,” Zimmer says.“If this grief process is stymied and the new partner is seen as a replacement for the deceased, as opposed to a unique person in her own right, the new relationship will be compromised by the unprocessed feelings of grief.”
June 7, 2017 Life After Death. How do you live life after your sugnificant other had died? This was the theme presented by Connections Radio (WTKS 104.1 FM Orlando, WWPR 1490 AM Tampa and WYGC 104.9 FM Gainesville, Florida). Author Herb Knoll was the exclusive in-studio guest featured.
By Herb Knoll
Author of the New Book, The Widower’s Journey (Article appeared in all three magazines pictured above)
Valentine’s Day, 2008 will forever live in my heart as well as in my mind’s eye. The day began when I was awakened by the noise coming from what seemed to be the vicinity of the kitchen. As I approached to retrieve my first cup of coffee of the day, I found my beautiful wife Michelle busy working on her latest project: making pretzels sticks dipped in various flavors of chocolate, each stick beautifully wrapped in heart-themed cellophane, with a red or pink bow. “These are Valentine’s Day gifts for your staff,” she said. “Employees always like getting gifts from their boss.” I didn’t know it at that precise moment, but Michelle’s efforts to spread joy among my team at work would be the last thing she did in our home before being admitted into a hospital for the last time, later that same day. Michelle lost her battle against cancer twenty-one days later on March 7, 2008, a dark and rainy Friday evening in San Antonio, Texas.
Surviving holidays as a widower, especially as a new widower, is always difficult. As an advocate for widowers, I have noticed how most widowers have one or two holidays that are harder than others to deal with, for they are laced with cherished memories that are more valuable than the Crown Jewels of England. For me, Valentine’s Day is one of those days. With perfect regularity, February 14th is always sure to give me pause, as each year I’m reminded of the sixteen years I celebrated it with Michelle.
For many widowers, Valentine’s Day delivers an endless barrage of love symbolism, perhaps never to be experienced again. From chocolates and flowers for their lady to memories of a warm wet kiss or a loving glance from across a room, the expressions of love around Valentine’s Day are inescapable. Valentine’s Day reminds many widowers of the emptiness they may have become accustomed to living with daily, even if for only a brief second when their grief of yesterday assumes its role at center stage in one’s thoughts.
Following Michelle’s passing, I assumed I would be a bachelor for the rest of my days. It was about that time I decided to celebrate Michelle’s life by living mine. Two and one-half years after Michelle’s
passing, I met and fell in love with Maria. We were married twelve months later off the coast of Italy during a ceremony onboard the Ruby Princess cruise ship.
Does this mean I never think about Michelle anymore? Hardly. I am proud to say I was married to Michelle as I am to Maria today. Today, Valentine’s Day reminds me that the human heart can mend and is capable of loving more than one person over a lifetime. If a widower is seeking companionship, a life partner or perhaps more, he should have hope that such joy may well be awaiting its discovery by him. And it is likely to occur when he least expects it to do so.
I understand that some widowers, including those who, like me, may have discovered love again, have lingering difficulty in dealing with the visible triggers of grief Valentine’s Day presents. For them, permit me to offer a few suggestions.
Spend the day with your children and with members of your extended family preparing your wife’s favorite recipes. Once made, enjoy a family meal with each other while allowing each family member to share stories about your wife.
Spend some time working on your family tree, capturing memories about your wife for future generations to enjoy. You may even want to write your wife a letter and insert it among your family tree’s archives.
Spend time with your grandchildren, perhaps taking them on a day-trip to show them their grandmother’s favorite park, the home of her youth, or where the two of you met. And be sure to take the little ones to their grandmother’s favorite restaurant and buy their lunch while you’re there.
Focus your expressions of love on to others. From volunteering for the Red Cross or your local veteran’s organization to spending some time assisting those served by your wife’s favorite charity.
Volunteer to babysit for another couple so they can enjoy their Valentine’s Day as much as you enjoyed yours during years past.
Be strengthened by reading scripture (1 Thessalonians 4) that speaks to Our Lord’s promise that we will one day again be reunited with those that we love.
Just because someone dies, doesn’t mean the love they shared with others did likewise. This Valentine’s Day, go out and celebrate the time you were blessed to be with your beloved wife. And don’t forget to tell your deceased wife you love her. Go ahead. She’s listening.
Don’t be so fast to spend the first Social Security check deposited into your wife’s bank account following her passing, for if you were to do so, you may find that you have to pay it back. WHY? Because Social Security is paid in advance. In order to be eligible to receive any amount paid, the payee must live for the entire period (month) the payment is intended to provide for. Recommendation: Contact your Social Security office following your spouse’s passing for details.
And did you know widowers are eligible for a widower’s Social Security payment if they are 60 or older. Eligible widowers may want to subscribe for this payment and defer going on their own Social Security program. Doing so will allow your personal plan to grow in the amount to be paid once you switch over in a year or two. As with most things financial, be sure to visit with a qualified financial planner to assist you. It is well worth the investment, regardless of your financial standing.