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Life Lives On

Song: Life Lives On
Performed by: Kim Parent
Written by: Ken Harrell
Produced by: Herb Knoll
Lyric Video by: Shane Farmer / REMRAF LLC
http://www.remraf.com
[email protected]

PLEASE HELP Herb Knoll has produced a song titled; “Life Lives On.” It is intended to encourage people to donate organs during this season of giving. Herb’s friends, in Nashville, Ken Harrell wrote the song and Kim Parent performed it. It is now available on YouTube and the this, the WSN website.

**PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE **

Help me promote it the video. Make it go viral. Copy this link and share it with as many people as possible. HTTPS://WIDOWERSSUPPORTNETWORK.COM/

Be sure to tell your friends to page down so they see the Musical Graphic and can view the music video. We need to make this video go viral and fast, as it has a Christmas theme. As your friends to share it too.

Know someone in the media or news industry, share the Music Video with them and encourage them to share our story and our music video of “Live Lives On.” Perhaps arrange an interview or two. Have an opportunity to gain PR, call me. 615.579.8136. We REALLY need your help. Merry Christmas.

We’re Saving Lives

Herb Knoll

Copyright © 2021

Widower Wearing Wedding Ring Sparks Huge Discussion

Recently I was asked to contribute to a discussion on this topic that attracted over 4,500 online comments. The topic was launched by a woman who confronted a widower about his wearing a wedding band eight months after his wife passed. The following article was featured on Bored Panda, an international online publication.

Woman Confused About Widower Still Wearing A Wedding Ring, Brings It Up During Lunch Break And Things Get Out Of Hand

Ignas Vieversys and Mantas Kačerauskas

Have you ever been the one to make everyone in the room suddenly freeze, their puzzled sights pointed in your direction after asking something that seemed completely okay at the time?

When a 32-year-old woman by the username u/Ideal-Mind3099 decided to ask her new colleague “James,” a recent widower, about the wedding band on his finger – things went in an opposite direction from what she expected. Annoyed that he was giving people the wrong impression about his relationship status, the author of the story couldn’t help but give “James” a piece of her mind.

Causing a very uncomfortable lunch break by getting a reaction she did not remotely anticipate, Ideal-Mind3099 turned to the ‘Am I The A-Hole’ subreddit to see whether it was her morally-dubious approach or colleagues’ interpersonal skills at blame.

AITA (Am I the Ass***e for telling my new coworker it was misleading of him to be wearing his wedding band when he’s a widower?

Hi. A couple of weeks ago we had a new employee hired. He’s a good guy and a widower named “James” (36), and to my knowledge, his late wife passed away eight months ago. Me (f32) and the other coworkers got along well with him. However, I noticed that he still wears his wedding band on his finger. It confused me a bit, and I couldn’t help but bring it up with him while on lunch break.

We talked, and I pointed out that he was misleading others by still wearing his wedding band as a widower. James said that he didn’t give it much thought (meaning he doesn’t care what people think) and that even if he wasn’t wearing his wedding band and some woman approached him, he’d still turn them down since he’s not interested. He looked pretty bothered by what I said. Still, I tried to explain that he was giving people the wrong idea or impression about his relationship status since he’s technically single and on his own right now (I don’t want to sound cruel, but I’m speaking from a technical angle).

For some reason, things got awkward, and everyone stopped eating and just stared at James and me. I told him I don’t know, but that felt generally misleading of him in making people think he is in a relationship (married) when he is not, regardless of how he felt about being in a relationship. He got upset, called me rude, and said that I repeatedly disrespected his marriage and his late wife’s memory with what I said, then took his stuff and walked away. My coworkers said regardless of who is right or wrong (though some said he overreacted), there was no reason for me to bring this up in the first place and cause a scene and make James upset with us like that now he’s not speaking to me and others who sided with me.

AITA? Did I overstep, or did he overreact?

Everyone agreed that the lady should have kept it to herself. The following is a very brief sampling of the 4,250 comments.

How is his marital status relevant to his function at work or remotely related to yours?

Misleading to whom? You? Nobody cared but you… The only reason why you would feel “misled” is if you were eyeing him in the first place because otherwise, it is of zero importance of his “availability” or how he communicates it.

James isn’t single; he’s grieving. Stop telling him how to do so. His relationship status is the very definition of NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

Everything got awkward at the table because of how creepy you were. Leave this man (and everyone) and his relationship alone. None of your business!

There is no timeline for a widower, or widow, to remove their wedding band. That is to be done on their timeline and not anyone else’s.

He could wear that wedding band until his own dying day, and it WOULDN’T BE ANYONE ELSE’S BUSINESS. OP is definitely YTA.

It is not up to you to determine how long it’s acceptable for someone else to grieve, or to police what they wear, jewelry, clothing, or otherwise. How dare you!

Dealing with the loss of your loved ones, after all, is one of the most gut-wrenching experiences people go through all the time. The level of anxiety and pain that grieving spouses have to cope with is so high it’s ranked as the highest level of stress on the Perceived Stress Scale a person must go through. That’s why “a lot of people usually don’t know how to pick the right words or feel uncomfortable touching on the subject,” Fred Colby, the co-founder of Pathways Men’s Grief Group and the author of ‘Widower to Widower’ told Bored Panda.

As the survivor of such a life-shattering loss himself – a beautiful marriage that lasted almost 50 years – Colby knows the everyday struggles perfectly grieving widowers must face. “Most men tend to be loners. And I know that for a lot of us, taking the ring off is an act of disrespect.” The way he sees it, “James” is experiencing what he calls the ‘Deep grieving’ phase, the most challenging of them all, and it’s completely normal that the ring is still on his finger.

“Many of us, including myself, have a hard time visualizing our wives in our thoughts,” Colby explained, adding that “James” is probably wearing it for her memory and to show he’s still committed to his wife.

While he knows better than most people that grieving widowers can be socially awkward and the whole subject a conversational minefield, Colby thinks this story sets a good example to others of how sometimes we tend to misjudge our understanding of what’s socially acceptable when mourning or going through a rough patch. “I’m afraid the lady has poisoned the well in the whole workplace for “James.” If only she had left that part alone, they might have become friends.”

Whatever the author’s intentions were, Colby reminded us nobody should expect too much from a grieving person in the first year. “Just be a friend, and then, maybe as he heals, he will be able to establish a real connection.” Small steps, as he puts it.

Colby also advises that it’s best to let widows tell the story themselves, as it’s part of the healing process. But for those who want to start the difficult conversation themselves, help a struggling friend or colleague overcome this barrier, there are a few ways to approach it.

According to Edy Nathan, a celebrated psychotherapist and the author of ‘It’s Grief: The Dance of Self-Discovery Through Trauma and Loss’ and Psychology Today’s column ‘Tales of Grief, ‘the first step is to get them to imagine what it would be like to take it off. “‘I see you’re still wearing your ring. What would your partner think if you took it off or left it on?'” are some of the appropriate questions Nathan suggests to Bored Panda readers, reminding everyone that “there’s no right or wrong timeline when a ring needs to be taken off.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean that any of this will certainly help to avoid conversational pitfalls when talking to a mourning person. As Nathan pointed out to us, each case is different. “There is no right answer here. Many of them grieve in such a way that it is complex and complicated by other factors.”… Nathan sees that more and more widowers are searching for the truth. “They want to honor their emotions, and we can see it in the way they are responding to work/life/joy balance.”

Finally, Colby gives us his final advice: “Just be understanding. That’s the least we can do.”

A Shout Out to Everyone Trying Right Now

A couple of weeks ago, Brother Larry Ahrens shared a brief thought from SC Laurie titled “A Shout Out to Everyone Trying Right Now.” This amazingly well-put-together thought was also written about so poignantly last week by Brother Tom Peyton. At that time, I posed the idea with Tom about offering articles built around this work. So as I sat down to formulate my thoughts on this work, the simple words poised at the end of this message profoundly grabbed me. These words were “I See You. I’m there too. We’re in this together”.

Though I will never have the privilege of meeting most of you in person, we do gather here on these pages from time to time. I see the beautiful pictures of your departed spouses and partners. I see you struggling with family dynamics that change due to our loss. I see you trying to figure out if you dare take a chance on love again. I see you trying to feel whole again. I see you trying to recalibrate the finances that affect us more profoundly than we are willing to admit sometimes. I see the sadness in the words you share. Brothers, I see you.

I’m also there trying to patch this thing together for the rest of my life. I’m there too when your family and friends tell me that you must tell us what is going on in your life, only to say to them and find evidence that they don’t remember or never heard a word you said in the first place. I’m there too, trying to figure out the “dating game,” one that I haven’t played in decades. I’m there too, trying to figure out if this is all that I have left. I’m there too when I walk around this familiar place I live in, but sometimes it just doesn’t quite feel like home anymore. Brothers, I’m there too.

Finally, “We’re in this together.” When I visit this place called sadness, I remember that I have survived a road that so many of my brothers are just starting to travel down. I remember that I have the honor of sharing my thoughts with so many men from all over the world on a regular basis. I remember that I had the amazing privilege of loving an amazing woman Robyn Anita Street-Whitener. We are in this together, brothers, because you can fill in a name just as I just did, and maybe just for a moment, a smile will come across your face. I wish I could promise you that it would get easier before long, but the timeline and path we must travel is a custom-made one. That is because we all had custom-made loves.

So, thank you, SC Laurie, for your beautiful words. Thank you, Larry Ahrens, for sharing those words with us, and thanks, Tom, for your thoughts that inspired me to offer my thoughts on this topic. So let end as I began with “A Shout Out to Everyone Trying Right Now.”

Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss. Terrell can be reached at my newly redesigned thedebriefgroup365.com, where you will find all my social media contacts or through the Widow Support Network.

Grief opens the mind to that we cannot explain

Last week Larry Aherns, one of our brother’s shared a short inspirational piece entitled: “A shout out to everyone who is trying right now” by S.C. Lourie. Lourie is an author and blogger from the U.K. who writes of hope to all who have suffered a loss. She suffered a miscarriage a few years ago and wrote extensively about that loss and how it changed and affected her life. Our brother Terrell Whitener a fellow columnist, and I both commented on Larry’s post and agreed we would attempt to expound on some of Laurie’s thoughts.

For those of you who did not read it, I encourage you to do so. She describes the struggles of trying: trying to stay open and to keep moving and trying to stay afloat, trying to find your flow, trying to meet each new day, and trying to find your balance. I want to focus on these struggles from my perspective as one who entered the loss journey nineteen months ago.

 On May 17th, 2020, I lost my wife after succumbing to end-stage kidney disease that she bravely battled for over five years. The first weeks and months after her death was at times unbearable. Every day I cried and wept, often uncontrollably, and asked myself, “How could I possibly go on”? “What purpose do I have as my beloved is gone”? Life had no meaning at that time. “How could I stay afloat”? Finding my flow was a foreign concept. Those first few weeks and months of grief after losing my wife led to brain fog, the constant tears, the anger, the disbelief, and the thought that I was so deep in the ocean of sadness I would not get back to the shore. I felt as though I would eventually sink and die. I had to make decisions so I could somehow get to the shore.

Enter my grief counselor, who gave me a lifeline and gently pulled me toward the shore. It was not an immediate rescue and required work from me to reach the sand. We spoke initially every day and eventually three times a week to now once a week. He listened and understood my pain. He knew what I was going through as an experienced Hospice grief counselor for over 25 years. He helped me reach the shore and gave me tools to safely swim again and not worry that I would drown in my darkness and fears. I am moving toward my flow but no longer worry about staying afloat.

How did I stay open and learn how to meet each new day?   Dr. Cassandra Brene Brown said it best: “Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is to show up” Fred Colby invited me to join a support group he started about two years ago for Widowers. I found hope and strength and support from my seven brothers, whom I call good friends who continue to help me as I journey down this path. Seven men whom I would never have met now united in a fraternity by our common loss, forever together to give hope and comfort to each other.

I try to pay it forward and now lead a group for Widowers in my area of the United States. I find joy in being able to help my brothers. I have no special skills; I lend an ear, share what helps me and try to be a source of comfort and support to my brothers as we walk this path together. I owe a debt of gratitude to all these men, especially Herb Knoll, who has helped me in so many ways.

It takes courage for my brothers to show up and try. Believe that if you are doing this, you are walking the path of a courageous man. I never thought the grief would open my mind to roads and trails that offer me so much insight. So often, we see grief as the crippler, the destroyer of us ever enjoying life again.

Grief is a part of our lives but not the sum of our lives.

I read a line written by the youngest poet laureate Amanda Gorman for the New Year 2022. She wrote, “Solace can be sourced from sorrow.”  What a powerful line! It encourages us to find solace, comfort, and peace from our sadness. That my friends require work, it doesn’t happen overnight; it may take a very long time, but if you work on it, you can find peace, comfort, and hope.

I know because I am trying to work on it each day.

NEW YEAR – NEW RELATIONSHIPS?

While being prepped for an emergency hernia operation four months after my wife’s death, I instructed the doctors three times that I wanted a “Do Not Resuscitate” order in place. I saw this as an opportunity to rejoin my wonderful wife of 45 years.

Many hours later ­― I woke up! The immediate question that came to mind was, “What the hell am I supposed to do now?” The answer that came to me was, “Damn, I guess I am supposed to live, and get on with my life. There must be more for me to do here.”

Stress and emotionally traumatic loneliness had contributed to my physical and near emotional breakdown. For many widowers, our grief journey is aggravated by the fact that most men have few friends they can turn to while in this deteriorated state.

Women who become widows often have a built-in support circle that includes numerous close friends, family members, work mates, and acquaintances who are willing to physically embrace them and express love and support in many ways.  Men who become widowers frequently are left to fend for themselves. They often have few close friends, much less ones willing to express love and support for them.

This exacerbates the sense of loneliness and subsequent stress that can lead to severe emotional, physical, and psychological challenges such as sleeplessness, sharp mood swings, depression, suicidal thoughts, and severe health issues. It is very common for widowers to encounter life-threatening health challenges, such as my emergency hernia operation, in the first year after losing their wife.

For widowers, all of this contributes to an increasing desire for companionship, particularly female companionship. While I firmly believe this is a psycho-emotional response, there often are physical side effects ranging from impotence to constant arousal. This can cause confusion, shame, and fear for one’s sanity.

For me, the best way to deal with these effects was to re-enter the dating scene soon after my emergency hernia operation. After 45 years of a rewarding marriage this was a scary new place for me. It was challenging and at times traumatic, but I pushed my way through until my emotional and psychological balance began to re-establish itself. This in turn improved my health as I was getting more sleep and stressing less.

I found the female companionship I so craved, regained my confidence as a man, and learned how to re-invent myself, while retaining the values and good qualities instilled in me during my 45 years of marriage. Eventually, this craving settled down to just enjoying being with women friends again.

After a period of platonic dating (where romance and intimacy were not the goal), I gradually found a new equilibrium in my relationships.  Ultimately this led to meeting a wonderful woman (also a widow) who has brought added love and joy into my life.

I wish to acknowledge here that there are many widowers who decide to NOT seek a new female companion, and who do just fine. We each must follow our own unique path to healing, and we should acknowledge and support others who choose a path different from our own.

Counseling, participating in a men’s grief group, and the support of my family were all critically needed during this transition. I encourage all widowers to face these challenges head on, but not by themselves. Reach out and include others (friends, family, counselors) who can provide you with feedback, support, and encouragement during what can be a long bumpy ride.

© Copyright 2021 Fred Colby

All rights reserved

——————————————————————————————

Widower to Widower 2nd Edition is available through:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie bookstores, Target, Walmart, local libraries and more.

To buy directly from the author, go to: https://www.fredcolby.com/buy-books

https://www.facebook.com/FredColbyAuthor

The Grief Club:  My strength and hope

                                                          

I never imagined that I would be a member of this group at age sixty-three. It’s a group no one wants to join, but circumstances, the loss of a loved one, put me into this club. You and I are part of a group of strangers, most of whom we would never have met but now are connected by one simple fact: our wives died, and we are part of this group of men who travel a road called grief.

It’s not a group that comes together for parties or celebrations, but rather, we are united because we share one common fact: we know what pain, sadness, and grief are and how it affects every aspect of our lives. Yes, we are people who share one commonality: grief. Friends and many relatives do not understand us. They try and are sincere in their attempts to help us but have no idea the road we walk or how we feel; and cannot comprehend what we face and deal with all the time.

However, this unique club offers us a very special opportunity to share with strangers who know our feelings. Every member of this club knows grief.  You don’t understand grief until you are initiated in this select group.

There are, however, ways that we, as brothers and sisters united in our pain, can help each other. It’s not difficult, but it does require courage, fortitude, and resolve to move forward. First, we need to share what has happened to us. Our trauma is common, but the path we travel is probably different. We can choose just to listen. At times, that’s fine to hear what others are going through and confronting in their journey, but healing requires telling your story. It’s risky and frightening to some degree, but in a safe, confidential environment surrounded by others who have been down this road, it becomes easier and easier with each meeting.  We need to be willing to share our pain and vulnerability. We need to tell our story.

The value of a Grief Group or a support group is that individuals who have faced loss tell their story, shed their tears, comfort each other, and this is especially important: share ideas and ways they are moving forward in the grief journey.

I run a support group for widowers living in New York State. One man said to me at the end of the meeting one night, “Tom, thanks for helping us.” I was humbled by his words of praise and said, “Thank You.” I don’t feel I am saving lives, but when I tell my story, when I shed my tears and pain and let my emotions out, I am helping another person heal. It’s therapeutic for me, and I hope it can provide hope to others. No one has all the answers for grief. It’s a lifelong process that we learn to deal with and hopefully feel comfortable with grief one day. I cannot eliminate it from my life, so I need to incorporate it as part of my life.  I am simply trying to give back and show gratitude to my wife, who taught me how to live, love, and die.

Some of you have traveled the path longer and are offering me a hand, a shoulder, or an arm so I, too, can move forward. As brothers, we should comfort each other and share our stories. Support groups are designed for participants to share their stories as they heal and help others heal.

Gain the most from your support group, share your story, tell us about your pain, shed your tears; we are the only ones who know what you are going through and can help you and, in the process, help each other. Strangers who would never have met will become brothers forever united as we together walk the path of grief.

Home for the Holidays? Finding my “New Normal”

My Dear Brothers,

For the last article that I have the privilege of sharing with you this year, I want to share the article that started it all for me. In 2015, the Heartland Hospice Association asked me to contribute an article for their Holiday Newsletter. With Herb’s indulgence and your patience, I would like to dedicate this article to those who were not members last year.

As I look back on this article now, I can almost feel the emotion at the end of my pen as I created these thoughts. This year I will be experiencing my seventh Christmas without my Robyn. As this time has passed, no new Mrs. Whitener has come into my life, not even a serious relationship to report. But life remains full; life remains good.

So, here is the 2021 version of Home for the Holidays, a retrospective of where it all began for me.

Before you know it, many of us will be experiencing our first holiday season without our loved ones.

For me, everything changed one Saturday afternoon in late February of 2015 when I was called into a room and told that my wife of 15 years, Robyn, had died. The journey toward finding my “new normal” began at that moment.

What would this new normal consist of, I found myself wondering? You see, for 22 years, Robyn had been an integral part of the rhythm of my life. It began like so many in the dating process, then on to the transition of being husband and wife, later to caretaker as her health began to fade, and now suddenly, I am alone.

Robyn loved the holidays. From her favorite Waterford champagne glasses on New Year’s Eve to the annual trip to pick out the tree the day after Thanksgiving, I always came home to the holidays. Our Home was a constant reminder of what holiday was on the horizon.

The last holiday Robyn and I shared was Valentine’s Day this year. I picked out a card that had the music to the song “It Had to be You” playing when you opened it up. As she opened the card and the music began playing, I started singing the song to her. The smile that I miss so much came across her face, and then one of our famous duets ensued. After the music stopped, we had one of our countless great laughs. Two weeks later, Robyn was gone, and I was home alone.

Since that day, Memorial Day has given way to the 4th of July and then Bastille Day (yes, Robyn celebrated Bastille Day!). The house no longer transforms, the sweaters and patriotic clothes she wore now still hang in the closet awaiting my final decision, and my new normal life continues to emerge.

I sometimes wonder if I will ever come home to the holidays again. But as a tribute to the spirit in which Robyn lived, I am resolved to do so. I plan to share Thanksgiving with my friends, who often spend Thanksgiving alone for many reasons this year. The decorations will come out, and the hospitality will be in the style Robyn so loved.

Christmas may not start with the Lifetime 30 days of Christmas as it always did, but at some point, the decorations will again come out, and I plan to share our Home with friends and some family. I am sure during that time together; there will be laughs and conversations remembering Robyn.

Then the guest will leave, and I am Home alone again. But don’t feel sorry for me, I live a wonderful life, and I am sure many of you reading this article do as well. That is the place that we will find that enables us to continue a positive path toward our “new normal.”  Of course, it will not be the same, but much of life never is.

Last year as one of the countless Christmas movies that Robyn watched was ending; we talked about our favorite Christmas songs. I want to close this article by sharing the last line of mine that will probably make me sigh at some point during the Christmas season but will equally bring me comfort; it states: “I ‘ll be home for Christmas, If only in my dreams.”

I wish you all a wonderful Holiday season and hope you find your new normal someday.

Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, MO. Terrell is the author of The First 365. He can be reached at [email protected] or through the Widow Support Network.

Can You Heal While Living in the Past?

If you are depressed, you are living in the past.

If you are anxious, you are living in the future.

If you are at peace, you are living in the present.

Lao Tzu (6th-century BC Chinese philosopher)

When we first enter deep grieving after losing our wives, we often do everything we can think of to hold on to her. This can include (as it did for me) going through all the old photos, slides, and mementos to try and keep her close and to live in the past.

A part of us has been ripped away, and we don’t want to let it go. We cannot imagine our life without her. Some, like me, may have trouble even remembering how she looked, sounded, and felt as a wall of nothingness cuts you off from her. This may be your mind’s way of protecting itself by anesthetizing you to the pain of remembering her.

I often felt as if the world around me was surreal as I numbly walked through it for months after losing my Theresa. I could not call up an image of her in my mind, or see her in my dreams.

It is perfectly natural for us to fall into a state of deep grief, and even full-blown depression while trying to hold on to these memories of our wives. The anxiety, fear, and depression can cause various symptoms of widowers syndrome, including the threat of an earlier death for us due in part to the added stress and resultant health issues.

As we process our grief, there is a difference between:

  • Melancholy or a “state of feeling sad and with low spirits” (Merriam-Webster),
  • Nostalgia or “a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to some past period or irrecoverable condition” (Merriam-Webster), and
  • Depression which can be “a mood disorder that is marked by varying degrees of sadness, despair, and loneliness and that is typically accompanied by inactivity, guilt, loss of concentration, social withdrawal, sleep disturbances, and sometimes suicidal tendencies” (Merriam-Webster)

During our lifetimes we all experience some of these, but during deep grieving it is easy to fall into the more severe expressions of these. It can seem scary as hell, and you may doubt your ability to pull out of these dark places.

Melancholy and nostalgia, if periodic rather than constant, are perfectly normal and are likely to dissipate over time. They can become constant in your daily life, especially if fed by alcohol and/or drugs. We are also likely to experience some bouts of depression during the deep grieving period which usually runs anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.

Friends and family are likely to not really understand what you are going through, so this is why it is so important to involve others who can help you in your grief journey. Grief counselors, grief groups and their facilitators, and even fellow widowers are the ones who can help you to recognize what you are going through and how to deal with it.

The longer your bouts of melancholy, nostalgia, and/or depression last, the more important it is for you to reach out for help, and to accept it when it is offered. So please, if you find yourself in this deep dark place for extended periods and if you avoid talking to others about it, please seek help.

For more help go to: https://www.fredcolby.com/resourceslinks where you can access a list of resources I have prepared to help my fellow widowers.

© Copyright 2021 Fred Colby

All rights reserved

——————————————————————————————

Widower to Widower 2nd Edition is now available through:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie bookstores, Target, Walmart, local libraries and more.

To buy directly from the author, go to: https://www.fredcolby.com/buy-books

https://www.facebook.com/FredColbyAuthor

A Celibate Life

“To the unmarried and the widows, I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.”

                                                            1 Corinthians 7:8

The Apostle Paul had strong reasons for being single. Now that you are single again, you may be asking yourself whether the single life is best for you for the rest of your life.

Very soon after my wife died, my mind whirled back to the day I met her nearly forty years earlier. I suddenly felt I was starting life again at the age of twenty-five. I thought I might soon go through some of the same stages of dating I had known earlier: singleness, seeking, finding, loving, and marrying again, and building a life as a couple. It was a dizzying thought, and I set it aside as unrealistic.

I then remembered my wife’s advice not to get involved with women until at least a year after she died. I set out to honor her advice, which I believed was wise. As time passed, I felt drawn more than once to women I knew, even before that first year was over. I wondered if marriage might be in my future at some point after all. Then I drew back, but even now, eleven years later, I’m not sure now what my marital future may be.

Some Bible scholars think the apostle Paul may have been a widow-man. He most likely had been previously married since it was a requirement to be a member of the Sanhedrin, as he was. Some had speculated that his wife either died or possibly divorced Paul after becoming a Christian. He may have recommended singleness partly because of conflict in his marriage over his Christianity, as well as a way to focus on one’s mission in life. Jesus did not marry, and he said, “At the resurrection, people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30 NIV). We widow-men have not entered heaven, but we have entered a life beyond the one we once knew. This new life will best be lived in singleness for some of us. You may want to think about your own advantages in the single life.

Some men think being single does not necessarily mean being celibate, avoiding sexual relations with women. You may already have heard some seniors say, “The rules don’t apply after age seventy!” You also may have heard about “arrangements” some seniors make to live together outside of marriage to preserve their retirement benefits, including healthcare, as well as securing their children’s inheritances. But Christian morality, as well as common sense, recommends a choice: celibacy or marriage. The sexual act itself carries emotional, moral, and spiritual implications at every age.

A cousin of mine in his eighties resolved this dilemma by marrying his widow friend in a Christian ceremony not registered with the state. They are married in the eyes of God, but they both have preserved their retirement benefits and are enjoying a happy marriage.

There are challenges in the single life. God knew what he was doing when he provided a wife for Adam. But the difficulties are overcome by millions of men in all cultures and religions. Remaining single can be a wise, virtuous, and happy choice.

Now, many of my diversions are homebound and solitary: reading, writing, Netflix movies, television, gardening, cooking, and correspondence. I would enjoy things with another person: travel, camping, long hikes, the symphony, art museums, and in-depth conversation. I have traveled a couple of times with women friends, and I was surprised how well we managed without romance or intimacy, just friendship. It is a big, new world being a widowed man.

Which Internet dating site is the “best” one?

When I speak to groups or talk to new clients, I can count on hearing questions about dating sites; which one should I use and which is the “best” one? Over the years,I’ve come to understand what they’re really asking is: (1) Where are the good people? (2) Where will I meet the person of my dreams? (3) What sites don’t have scammers?

You may be surprised at my answer to their question, which is, “They’re generally all the same.”

At the same time, I let people know that some dating sites have a particular focus. For example, religious beliefs such as Christian Singles, JDate, and others. Or sites for people over 50 such as Our Time, Silver Singles, and others.

Some sites serve a variety of age groups, such as Match.com, Plenty of Fish (POF), eHarmony, etc. There are even sites for folks who love to travel, farmers (or are interested in farmers), gluten-free eaters, and people who love spicy foods.

In reality, the outcome of your online dating experience often has more to do with some of the following…

Your attitude toward yourself, the opposite sex, and dating in general. In particular, many people struggle to have negative opinions about the opposite sex (due to past dating experiences). My recommendation is first to learn why the negative things happened and how they might be prevented in the future.

Profile content and photos. Many of us are tempted to lie about our age or touch up our pictures. Many people look and act younger than their chronological age, and the way to show this in your profile (besides lying) is to include all the “young” things you do in your life. Talk about how active you are. And talk about the activities you’d like to do with a partner. Include pictures of you doing those activities.

Persistence. Sadly, some people give up quickly when dating doesn’t become what they were looking for. But think about other things in life you’ve started where the outcome was important – such as going to college, learning how to drive, applying for a job, or becoming a parent. Even though it was hard, even though it took time to learn how to do it well, even though you got discouraged – you kept going because the outcome was more important than your feelings of “it’s so hard.” I tell people to consider adopting this same stick-with-it attitude about dating.

Keep your emotions and expectations in check in the beginning. This is one of the really challenging ones. I hear people say, “I really want to be in a relationship, AND I really don’t want to date.” I tell them, “Unless you’re planning on an arranged marriage, you’ll need to at least date a little.” (Even if you hire a matchmaker, you still need to go on a date.)

A few tips to further improve your dating experiences…

Set expectations before each date. For example: (1) I’m going to learn about myself. How do I feel during a first meeting? How can I help myself feel more comfortable and relaxed? How do I learn how to talk about myself? (2) I’m going to learn about a new person. How do I learn to ask “I’m curious” questions that don’t feel like interrogations or interviews?

Help your emotional self with messages such as: (1) I’m meeting a new person to see how I feel about being with them. (2) My first meeting is to decide if I want to spend more time with them (not the rest of my life). (3) I’m not meeting my forever-person right now (even if it turns out to be the one, it’s important to allow your emotions to grow slowly).

Work on your self-confidence. Wouldn’t you like to date someone who has good self-confidence? Then it would be best if you increase yours. Get clear about what makes you an interesting, valuable person. This will help you not settle for someone who isn’t your match. Add friends and activities to your life. The best way to feel good about yourself is to have a well-rounded life filled with things that make you feel happy and needed.

In closing…

I have clients who have met their significant others on dating sites after working on all these things together. I’ve found that it’s usually not the site causing a person not to find the right date… it’s the person not using the site to their best advantage.

If you’d like to learn how to be more successful in your dating endeavors, let’s chat. You can schedule a complimentary conversation with me here.

About Christine…

As a coach, I’ve helped hundreds of people successfully through their dating and relationship processes. I enjoy listening carefully to who you are and then using that knowledge to help you explore your dating and relationship needs.

Take the first step toward achieving your dream of a happy and fulfilling romantic relationship! Fill out my questionnaire What’s Holding You Back From Love, and then let’s talk.

My coaching is deeply influenced by my own period of online dating. Not only did I become an expert at online dating back then, I figured out how to have fun while doing it. It was a wonderful time of challenges and discoveries. And it led me to meet and marry my late husband.

As a widow, I have a new level of understanding about dating after loss. Widows (and widowers) tell me, “all the dating rules have changed.” They tell me they wish they could skip the dating part and find a wonderful relationship. And I know what they mean. The good news is – my clients and I have discovered there are many safe and proactive ways to re-enter the dating world. And I’m here to tell you; they do work!