Categories
Dating/Relationships Forgiveness Guilt/Shame Loneliness Mental/Emotional Health Moving Forward

Am I Cheating?

Chris Brandt

There is a feeling of fall in the air. Depending on where you live, you may have noticed the nights are feeling a little cooler, and the morning air is feeling a little brisker. Where I live, I have also seen the leaves on the trees are starting to lose their spring/summer green color. One thing is for sure, the last of the “Summer” holidays is upon us. That means different things to different people.

With fall approaching I have to do something I have been dreading, I have to take my son back to his apartment so he can continue college. I am ashamed to admit that a small part of me wanted his classes to be online rather than in person. I tried convincing myself that this hope stemmed solely from a concern for his safety. The truth is, I was only kidding myself. I wanted him home with me longer. I wanted someone home when I get back from work, I wanted someone home to eat with, and I wanted someone home to have conversations.

Recently, I accepted the fact that I will soon be alone. This made me think about a co-worker that I have been talking with at work. This friend has alluded to the fact that she is open to having dinner together sometime. I did not think about that as an option at the time because I had my son at home, and we had each other for company. Besides, I wanted to spend every minute I could live with him. Now, I face eating alone, which is why those passive hints from my co-worker resurfaced. It sounds like it would work out perfectly. She is alone after a break up in her relationship, I will be alone, and it is worth considering. Or is it?

After my thoughts started to get more serious about asking my friend to dinner, I became overwhelmed with emotion. What is the passion that is pouring over me? After concentrating on this feeling, I discovered its origin. What I am feeling is guilt. What I did not understand is why I was feeling this.

You may have experienced this feeling too. In my situation, I am just at the beginning of sorting out these feelings. The reason I wanted to mention this is that if you have felt this emotion, do not feel alone. It comes with the territory. I felt as though I would be cheating if I did ask this person to dinner. It is my opinion that after years of marriage, you will feel like you are cheating on your late spouse. In reality, I know it would not be cheating. I know she would want me to have company and companionship.

When the time is right, we all have to decide between being open to finding a new friend that may lead to a relationship. What we do need to remember is that there is not a set time for this scenario. It may even be that we decide we don’t want that type of companionship, and only you know if that’s your case. However, one thing we do know is that you need to be open to this, and it isn’t cheating. The only cheating that happens by hiding from others is you cheating yourself out of a possible friendship. Be strong, my brothers.

_______________________________________________

You can reach Chris at brandt5@hotmail.com

Categories
Dating/Relationships Grief/Dispair Guilt/Shame Healing Loneliness Moving Forward

Permission to Change

Nyle Kardatzke

My wife and I slept in a king-size bed in the final years of her life. After her death, I continued to sleep in that massive bed, but always on my side, not hers. It was a comfortable bed, but I found I was swimming all over it at night, and it was hard to make such a large bed by myself. Changing the sheets seemed to be more work than it was worth for me alone.

About four months after my wife died, I looked at that king-size bed one morning, and for the first time, it occurred to me that I didn’t have to keep using it. I could use one of our other beds. I winced at the thought, wondering what my wife would say if she came home and saw that I had changed things without her permission. Where would she sleep? It took me half a minute to realize she wouldn’t be coming back to catch me disturbing our bed. Emotionally I didn’t feel that I should be making a change without her permission even though mentally, I knew that it was okay. I went ahead that day with a major bed-moving operation that ultimately led me to the twin-size bed that now suits me best.

Several other times, I have wanted to make a change in the house or my schedule and have felt I had her permission to do so. Fortunately, my wife was quite practical, so it’s easy for me to picture her approving and endorsing some of the changes I have made. But there are still things I leave as they were, out of respect for space she still occupies in my mind. She liked things this way, and I can still enjoy them for that reason.

Many widow-men probably need to feel their wives’ permission to make changes, especially in the first few weeks or months. Of course, we know that it is we who must grant the permission, but we are more comfortable with those decisions when we feel our wives invisibly agreeing, may be smiling and nodding from where they are. My wife’s name was Darlene, so I sometimes ask myself, “WWDD” (what would Darlene do)? I often receive assurance about an action by asking that question, and I have been diverted from disasters in the same way.

Small household changes are one thing; new relationships, especially with women, are another. Some men never feel they have permission to see other women, to say nothing of remarrying. Others make this transition smoothly. Still, others can do so because their wife told them she wanted them to remarry. You will have to listen to your mind as well as your heart in these matters, and you may need to listen for your wife’s voice for her counsel.

______________________________________________

Look for Dr. Kardatzke’s insights to appear in his column named after his book, “WIDOW-MAN,” every other Wednesday. You can write Dr. Kardatzke at thewidowman@gmail.com

Categories
Dating/Relationships Mental/Emotional Health

How to get over a breakup

Christine-14

Navigating Painful Breakups without losing yourself

You found him! You’re so happy! Everything in life feels brighter and better.  

You talk for hours. There’s a huge connection and chemistry between you. You feel like a teenager again! You start to think there might be a future with this relationship.

And then… it ends.

This article isn’t about why the relationship ended. Instead, let’s talk about how to get through the loss of breaking up without losing yourself.

*A side note: This article is written from a woman’s perspective (because I’m a woman and it was easier that way). I know men can have the same experience and I hope my suggestions are helpful for you as well.

Surviving the breakup

After the breakup, your task becomes how to live with that unbearable ache for him in your mind, bod, and soul. You miss his voice, his touch, his presence. Sometimes the pain becomes so large you wonder if you’ll get through the next hour.

It doesn’t matter whether you ended the relationship, or he did. Either way, it’s tempting to reach out to him. You want him back in your life. You want things to go back to how they were (especially the good times). You want to text. You want to call.

He’s on your mind all day, distracting you. You cry at the drop of a hat. Your energy is low. It feels unending.

Using imagery

Because I’m a visual person, I use images to help manage big life challenges and emotions. For example, I often use the image of ocean waves to represent my overwhelming feelings.  

I have found that – just like the ocean – intense feelings come in like powerful waves, knocking me off my feet and tumbling me over and over with no air to breathe. With huge feelings (just like the waves), I feel like I can’t breathe, that I’m drowning, and I’ll never surface again.

And then just like the ocean, the wave finally goes back out, and I can breathe again, stop crying, and maybe even muster a smile.

A lesson from widowhood

My widowhood journey has taught me that the horrible ache of loss and sadness eventually becomes “less awful,” a bit at a time.  

In the meantime, the best thing for me to do is to feel all my feelings when they show up (even though that’s the last thing I want to do).

Then, as time goes on (days/weeks/months), I start to notice moments when I actually feel better. Even if the good feeling is only one or two minutes out of 60 minutes, I consider that a win because those good moments will eventually come more often and last longer. 

Finding the teenager within

Another image that helps me… I picture the hurt, sad, mad, disappointed part of me as a crazed teenager. I remember how passionately I felt things as a teen. 

My feelings of wanting a life situation to go back to what it was (when I know it can’t or shouldn’t) belong to the teenager – and they’re very real feelings inside of me (even though in reality they are unreasonable and irrational).

It helps me to realize that idea of taking immediate action belongs to a teenager. And that it’s time to put my adult head in charge instead of my teenage heart – for that’s what keeps me safe from re-entering a situation or relationship that is wrong for me.

Taking this image a step further, I think about the inner teenager and my car. It’s dangerous to have a crazed teenager in the driver’s seat (because that’s definitely how it feels inside me). She could crush me into a wall!

So my next visualization is to gently put her in the backseat and give her things to soothe her. I promise not to give her a hard time for her feelings. I give her permission to have all the feelings she wants for as long as she needs to. I promise to help her heal her broken heart.

I give her things she likes: a funny movie, time in the spa, a friend’s shoulders to cry on, comfort foods, exercise, permission to cry at any moment, and anything (sentimental commercials, Hallmark movies).

Then I put my adult self in the driver’s seat so I can navigate through my day. My adult self knows I need to eat and sleep. She knows I need to get work done. She knows how to prioritize tasks to best use my energy. And she knows to keep an eye on my teenage self and give her attention when she needs it.

Have you used images like these (or something else) to get through a hard breakup? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email.

Categories
Children Dating/Relationships

Dear Abby Style Article #1

Christine-14

PUBLISEHD 3-19-20 

WSN-MO: The Perfect Catch

A few minutes with Dating and Relationship Coach, Christine Baumgartner

Just about every day, I’m in communication with widowers. 

Not only is it what I do as a dating and relationship coach, it also comes from being involved in several widow Facebook groups. I’m so grateful for all these connections, for it has helped my own healing process. 

The many “gems” I’ve collected along the way have led me to think an occasional “Dear Abby” style article might be in order. So, I’m giving it a try. Below you’ll find three great questions I received, followed by my thoughts. 

Question: My wife passed almost two years ago, and I’m dating a woman who is also widowed. My wife had tons of new clothes, shoes, jewelry, perfume, etc. Is it tacky to give some items to my new friend? Everything is brand new, still boxed as my wife bought it – designer pocketbooks and all. Or should I ask her if she’d feel creepy taking stuff?

Answer: Such a great question… thanks for asking. Here’s my suggestion. You could ask the new lady in your life if she’s interested in any of your late wife’s clothes. Let her make the decision. There’s no “right” or “wrong” here; I’ve seen it go both ways.

  • I know a few couples (in the same circumstances – both widowed) who are happily wearing the late spouse’s clothes.
  • I also know a couple where the new partner thought it would be too creepy to wear the clothes of the late spouse. And a widower who thought it would be too startling and sad to see another person wearing his dead wife’s things.

As a side note – if your new lady isn’t interested in your late wife’s clothes, then make sure you ask your family members if they would like any of her clothes. Sometimes family members want something just as a memory and not to actually wear. So ask everyone, even if they’re not the right size.  

Question:  I’m 60 years old and was married for 36 years. In 2018, my wife passed away after a 3.5 year battle with inflammatory breast cancer. I grieved the entire 3.5 years of her illness, knowing I was going to lose her. My 33-year-old daughter, who lives with me, was infuriated when I started dating seven months after my wife passed. I’ve been dating a wonderful lady for six months now, and we’re falling in love. We have no plans for marriage at this time. My daughter has all the concerns and terrible anger I’ve read about. I’ve tried to reassure her that I’ll always love her, and we can still have a close relationship. I don’t think she will ever accept the new lady in my life. She has ruined relationships with my brother and his wife and my sister over this. They have also tried to let her know that I’m moving forward and will always love her. My 25-year-old son is happy for me. This has created a huge gap between him and his sister. She’s been to grief counseling only once. I’ve offered to go with her but never get an answer. 

Answer: This is a challenging situation. I’ll give you a few ideas, and I trust you’ll find what works for you.

It’s important to keep living your life amidst your daughter’s upset. It’s not your job (really) to make her happy every minute of every day – this may be a hard belief to carry when it involves a daughter you care about. However, she sounds pretty unreasonable. When someone has an attitude like this, it’s very difficult to make them happy. 

If things become unbearable, a time may come when you need to draw a line in the sand. Have a trusted friend or therapist help you come up with some well-thought-out boundaries. This isn’t an easy task, especially when the boundary is something like “she needs to treat you (and the lady in your life) courteously and with respect or she needs to move out (and give her a deadline).” With any boundary, make sure you’re really ready. Because, for it to work, you’ll truly have to “stick to your guns” and not back down. 

A few caveats:

  • I don’t know the circumstances behind your 33-year-old daughter needing to live with you. If it’s a physical or emotional reason (meaning she needs constant supervision and care, then you might need to eventually consider a facility where she could be cared for. 
  • If she’s capable of living on her own but has a financial issue (and she’s physically, mentally, and emotionally capable of supporting herself), then a boundary might just be the thing she needs to get her life together. It could be that part of the reason she’s mad is she feels threatened that her living situation might change. 
  • Once our children become adults and are capable of taking care of themselves, then it’s up to us parents to move on with our lives. We need to become examples of people who do good self-care, and being in a healthy, loving relationship is one of the ways we do this. 

Question: My wife of 10 years recently passed away. I went straight to anger mode, and I’ve been there ever since. Why do scumbags get to live, and my sweet wife was take? She was one of the greatest people on this earth? I’m functioning at work and in everyday life but am also pissed off all the time.

Answer: Your feelings of anger are so normal. And you’re right – it makes no sense that wonderful people die and terrible people get to live. Many widowed people feel this way (I certainly did). I appreciate you’re still being a responsible person and going to work. At the same time, I know how debilitating it is to be angry all the time. Here’s what I’ve seen work for others and myself:

  • Therapy. A skilled and professional therapist can help you work through your feelings of anger.
  • Regular exercise. I realize this doesn’t change any of the circumstances. I do know it’s a great way to dissipate and lower the energy behind your anger and help it not feel as consuming—things like walking, running, bicycling, or lifting weights at the gym. I’ve also known people who took up martial arts because, not only did they get to expend energy, it also gave them focused targets on which to aim their anger.
  • Join a support group. This is one thing that helped me. I found widow groups (both online and through meetup). When you share your anger issues with the group, you’ll probably find out that many of them share your same feelings. Some of the members may have insights for you. 
  • Recommended reading. Why Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner, this book helped me tremendously with my anger. It’s been helpful for many of my clients as well.

In closing…

Have you had experiences like these? If so, how did you handle them? I’d love to hear your thoughts. And as always, please write to me with your questions and concerns. I’m happy to answer them.


WSN-MO: A FEW IMPORTANT POINTS.

1. The services offered by Christine, herself a widow, does not include “dating or matchmaking services.”

2. WSN-MO remains a private “Men Only” page. As such, Christine does not have direct access to WSN-MO’s Facebook page. All postings are facilitated through WSN-MO.

3. WSN-MO members can ask questions of Christine (even anonymously via private message to me) Just send your questions to me at herb@WidowersSupportNetwork.com. Following, I will then post her responses.

4. WSN-MO members who wish to contact Christine directly are encouraged to do so c/o her website http://theperfectcatch.com.

Look for Christine’s advice every other Thursday.

NOTICE: Listen to Christine’s advice on Widower’s Journey Podcast, Episode #2.

See: http://widowersjourney.libsyn.com/relationships-with-christine-

Categories
Dating/Relationships Loneliness Mindfulness Self-care

Settling into Singleness

Terrell Whitener

When not having the privilege of submitting articles to this outstanding group of men, I enjoy reading the exceptional content provided by other writers as well as reading your questions and thoughts. One of the common issues that seem to foster many conversations is dating and new relationships as a widower.

Last week I experienced my fifth anniversary as a widowed man. In these five years, I have learned so much about life and myself as well. Anniversaries and milestones often are times for deep thoughts and reflections about our station in life. Last week as I found myself in one of these thoughtful periods, I reflected on just how comfortable I have become in my singleness.

As I have stated many times, I have no desire to find another version of my late wife. One of the primary reasons for feeling that way is because my wife’s death changed me in many ways. During the last few years of her life, I served as my wife’s primary caretaker. While I am so grateful to have made her comfort the primary focus of my life, this endeavor was exhausting as well as all-consuming. One of the first realizations, after my wife died, was just how exhausted I was.

When you experience both physical and emotional exhaustion, you are exhausted! The one thing that I am very sure of is that I am not the same person I used to be. My needs and desires are much different now. I am very comfortable with the fact that I have settled into singleness.

When thinking about the reasons that I have reached this point in my life, I think there are three primary reasons. These reasons are my patience, my emotional band-with, and my desire.

When thinking about my patience with relationships, I selfishly have little desire to deal with the thought dis-approving kids, family members, or friends playing a role in any relationship I may have. During my widowhood, I have discovered a newfound respect for my time. Whom I spend my time with and how I spend my time have become very important to me? The thought of spending my time trying to win over disapproving family and friends doesn’t sound like something I am remotely interested in.

The second area that I feel contributes significantly to my singleness is my emotional bandwidth. My emotional bandwidth is probably a combination of being gun shy about starting a new relationship, a bit of selfishness (enjoying my newfound freedom), and a healthy dose of healing mixed in for good measure. Even though it’s been five years for me, I still feel there is still so much out to be explored before even contemplating settling back down with one person. However, let me be transparent. I like so many rushed into a relationship with a woman that I knew soon after my wife’s death. To put it mildly, I was not ready. Fortunately, the woman and I remain on civil terms. It is my nature now to very err on the side of caution. I have learned that I can enjoy the company of the opposite sex without it being a search for marriage every time we go out. I have pleasantly discovered there are several women that feel as I do.

The third and final reason for me is that I have quelled the desire to be attached to feel complete. For those of you who have found new relationships and even marriage, I applaud you. Fulfilling this part of your life is as different for us as the pathway to healing is for us all.

So, there you have it, my thoughts on my current state, successfully single. Now watch me go to the grocery store tomorrow and fall head over heels in love! As always, I welcome your responses to my offerings. And remember, this is just one man’s opinion. Until next time.

_________________________________

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 his newly redesigned thedebriefgroup365.com; there you will find all of his social media contacts or c/o herb@WidowersSupportNetwork.com

Categories
Dating/Relationships Love Languages Moving Forward

Love Languages

Christine-14

WSN-MO: The Perfect Catch

A few minutes with Dating and Relationship Coach, Christine Baumgartner

Several years after Tony’s death – as the fog of widowhood started lifting – I found myself wondering, “what’s next.” I wanted to be open to inspiration and possibilities. I knew they were out there somewhere if I could just learn how to recognize them.

Little by little, I gathered little gems, most of them in my everyday life. These lifted my spirits and gave me hope. I made a practice of watching for them. The story below is an example of this.

_____________________________________________

I love to shop in used bookstores. And that’s where this story takes place – in a used bookstore in Everett, Washington (just north of Seattle).

As I’m making my way to checkout with my great finds, I notice an older gentleman approaching the counter just ahead of me. In a tentative manner (almost apologetic – he looks out of his comfort zone) the gentleman asks the staff person if they have “that book about the five love languages.” My ears perk up; this is a favorite topic (and book) of mine.

The staff person says yes, and that she’ll get it for him right away.

After she disappears into the stacks, I turn to the man and say, “Good choice. Are you buying the book because of someone?”

With a smile and a twinkle in his eye, he tells me it’s for a lady friend who recommended he read it. He gently taps my arm as he answers.

“You’re going to get so much benefit from this book,” I say. “Do you know anything about it?”

“No, but that’s not a problem,” he says, once again tapping my arm. “I’m someone who likes to keep learning, and I know it will make her happy that I’m buying it.”

Then he abruptly becomes self-conscious and says, “So sorry; I keep touching you. I’ve been told I do that too much.”

“I’m completely okay with it,” I tell him. “As a matter of fact, you might learn, as you read the book, your love language is physical touch.”

He looks relieved and also intrigued. I go on to tell him that when he and his lady friend take the love language test, it’s best to take them separately. Then afterward, it’s fun to discuss each other’s results together.

By now, the staff person is back, book in hand. The man takes it from her and shows it to me, asking, “Is this the right one?” I nod.

As the cashier rings up his book, he finds that not only is it less expensive because it’s used, it’s also on sale. He’s ecstatic.

With his purchase proudly in hand, he turns and thanks me. I tell him that my job involves talking to people about their relationships, which is why I’m so clear about the importance of this book, to both individuals and couples.

He says, “I could tell you knew stuff.”

As I pay for my books, he asks, “Guess how old I am?”

I tell him I have no idea.

“I’m 85,” he says. Then to my surprise, he does a high karate kick. “There’s still fire in me!” are his parting words.

So inspiring – at 85, he’s decided to learn about love languages. And he’s going out of his comfort zone in an attempt to connect with his lady friend.

Learning your own love language and that of your partner is a tool I use to help people work on relationship problems. My clients are often surprised to hear how differently people can feel loved and cared about, depending on what their “love language” is.

I consistently recommend the book “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman (the same book my elderly friend bought). It talks about five ways people typically feel loved and will help you learn your language and your partner’s (you can also take the love language quiz online). Chapman lists the five love languages as:

1. Acts of service – doing something for the other person.

2. Quality time – spending time with the other person.

3. Words of affirmation – giving compliments and other affirming verbal messages.

4. Gifts – giving and receiving of gifts.

5. Physical touch – regular physical touching.

Even if you like all five of these, there’s usually one you prefer. If you assume your partner will come in on the same “love language” wavelength as yours, things may not work very well. You can do your “language” with them all you want, but the other person will still feel lacking if it’s not the language that makes them feel loved and cared about.

So, what is your love language? I’d love to hear about any challenges and successes you’ve had with it in your personal and romantic life. Send me an email and let me know!

And by the way, my love language is words of affirmation, so I love compliments.

Coach Christine

WSN-MO: A FEW IMPORTANT POINTS.

1. The services offered by Christine, herself a widow, does not include “dating or matchmaking services.”

2. WSN-MO remains a private “Men Only” page. As such, Christine does not have direct access to WSN-MO’s Facebook page. All postings are facilitated through WSN-MO.

3. WSN-MO members can ask questions of Christine (even anonymously via private message to me) on our Facebook page, which I will then forward to her. You can also send questions to me at herb@WidowersSupportNetwork.com. Following, I will then post her responses.

4. WSN-MO members who wish to contact Christine directly are encouraged to do so c/o her website http://theperfectcatch.com.

Look for Christine’s advice every other Thursday.

NOTICE: Listen to Christine’s advice on Widower’s Journey Podcast, Episode #2.

See: http://widowersjourney.libsyn.com/relationships-with-christine-baumgartner

Categories
Dating/Relationships Manful Emotions Moving Forward

One Mississippi, Two Mississippi

Fred-18

Since your wife died, how often have you been thoroughly confused by the kindness of women towards you? How often have you, even though you know it is wrong, thought there might be something there? I am not embarrassed to tell you that I had many such instances. For example, within a few months of my wife’s death:

· I went to pick up a grandchild at her daycare, and the owner (who knew of my loss) gave me a big welcoming smile and hug… and I was confused!

· I visited with my lawyer to revise my will, and she was empathetic to me, and I was confused!

· My dental hygienist (half my age) and I empathized with each other over our losses, and I was in love!

· A female greeter at the church repeatedly smiled at me and engaged in light conversation with me, and I asked her out! She was married!

And there were more instances of similar engagements and reactions. Why do we act this way? Why do we have no clue at all after our wives pass about how to interact with other women? How can we learn again how to filter thoughts that should stay in our heads before they are expressed in words or actions?

After our loss, our social filters are all messed up. These painstakingly developed filters tell us how to interpret the world around us. They tell us when to speak up and when to keep quiet, and they help us to navigate our complex human world. Filters that are particularly weak after losing your wife can include:

· Social filters – such things as what is appropriate and what is not appropriate to say out loud in the company of others, especially women… or how to react to perceived signals from others.

· Emotional – those inbred and learned behavioral filters that help us to interpret our emotional reactions to people and events around us… or how to interpret signals from others, particularly women. This can also include our ability to control our anger, anxiety, and fear.

· Intellectual – those “thought” filters that help you to not blurt out remarks that are not well thought through, that are based upon false or biased information, or that are just trying to fill the gap in conversations.

To illustrate this state of mind, I remember a wonderful skit in the Big Bang Theory comedy series in which Billy Bob Thornton erroneously interprets signals from almost every woman he meets. If they touch him in an innocent gesture (think hand on shoulder) for as long as it takes him to say, “One Mississippi, Two Mississippi,” he takes it as a sign that they are into him.

When I saw the show, I immediately recognized myself in my then messed up mental state. Billy Bob Thornton’s character carried this to comedic extremes and did not recognize the absurdity of his actions until two of the show’s female characters (Penny and Amy) confronted him about it.

Just like Billy Bob, every time a good-looking woman smiled at me, gave me a hug, or showed empathy to me… I was wondering if they liked me in a way which might lead to a relationship. This, often erroneous, thinking was further complicated by my erratic emotional and intellectual filters as well.

After speaking with my grief counselor, I learned to confront this thinking head on and to gradually rebuild my filters to the point where I was able to once again interact with women with more confidence that I was reading their signals (or non-signals) more correctly. It took months to regain this control so that I could reengage fully without fear of making fatally embarrassing errors.

So, if you find yourself in a similar situation, know that acknowledging the issue is half the battle. Then you can turn your attention to dealing with it, instead of sitting there condemning yourself every time you commit a faux pas. Know that this is not something to condemn yourself for, just something else we have to “address” as we move forward in our healing process.

© Copyright 2019 Fred Colby

All rights reserved

——————————————————————————Fred Colby is the author of Widower to Widower, which is available on Amazon.com. You can find Fred’s column appearing here on WSN-MO every other Tuesday. Widower to Widower is available through your local bookstore, my website, and Amazon. Buy Widower to Widower through Amazon. (If living in Canada go to Widower to Widower – Amazon-Canada) See Testimonies and Reviews of Widower to Widower. Website: Fred Colby, Author

Categories
Dating/Relationships Manful Emotions Moving Forward

Dating as a Widow: The Fear of Loneliness

Cynthia

(Gents: Pay close attention.  Great lessons to follow)

The fear of loneliness is what compels people to seek relationships.  A neonate cries out loud upon waking up from a nap but is comforted immediately upon seeing a smiling face loom over the crib.  A toddler wants to be tucked in bed; it is not the dark room that scares him as much as the idea of being alone in a dark room.  Children seek out friends in school and on the playground; we instinctively know something is wrong when we see a child sitting all by himself.  A teenager would rather be out with friends than sit alone at home and watch a movie.  Young adults find ways to network with other young adults outside of the workplace.  Then, you meet the love of your life and discover that nothing fulfills you as much as time spent with your love.

You get married – life happens, bills need to be paid, jobs become stressful, and children come along, bringing a huge change in the dynamics between your spouse and you.  Time spent with each other is at a premium; the number of hats you wear is wearing you down.  However, you have this awesome alliance which allows you to toss hats back and forth at each other as you juggle your way through the responsibilities of life.  Sometimes a hat gets thrown back at you, at other times a hat falls to the ground, and then there are those days when you just want to throw every hat out the window and curl up in bed with a book.  Blissful solitude!

Widowhood changes so much in our lives, yet we are still the same creature deep within, always seeking relationships.  We miss those years of not having to seek companionship because you had a ‘designated companion.’  We miss those years of just being able to say, “let’s watch a movie together”; in quiet companionship, you watched curled up in a couch together – not a word was spoken, but not a word was needed.  You could rest in the quiet comfort of knowing you were loved, and no matter what the world threw at you, someone always had your back.  It was comforting to know you could interrupt a football game, wake up your spouse in the middle of the night to tell him you were feeling sick, offer driving tips from the passenger seat, give directions to a husband who questions his GPS device, reach over and eat out of his plate, and myriad other annoying behaviors that your spouse just overlooks because he has learned to love that about you.  You feel loved.  You are in your comfort zone.  Then, you lose it all.  Loneliness becomes the hallmark feature of your existence.  Fear of rejection creeps in.

Once again you feel like that neonate wanting to see a familiar face when you wake up, a toddler who wants to be tucked in bed, a child wanting to just hang out with a friend, a teenager wanting to go with someone to the movies, a young adult seeking to network with others of the same age and interest, and a person looking for that quiet, comforting love again.  What’s different about this time around?  Fear of the unknown is juxtaposed with a fear of loneliness.  We lived in a predictable world for long enough to where the unpredictable intimidates us.  We now have experience and history behind us, which colors our view of any future relationship.  Most marriages are not idyllic.  Even good marriages have their fair share of challenges.  Many marriages can be steeped in loneliness. Some marriages are outright adversarial.  In all cases, a widow seeks a nurturing relationship; either because it is what she had before or because it is what she has always dreamed of having.  I suspect the same can be said of a widower.  Marriage has trained us to find the intricate balance between being the nurturer and the nurtured one.  Can we find that balance once again?  Can a widow find that relationship which quells her fear of the unknown and remedies her fear of loneliness?  Be very intentional in seeking another relationship, but also be cautious and wise; consider this – a relationship based on true friendship will stand the test of time and troubles.

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Cynthia Mascarenhas was widowed on February 4, 2018, when she lost her husband of 29 years, Franz Mascarenhas, to a sudden heart attack. Following the passing of Franz, Cynthia founded Walk With A Widow, a non-profit organization whose primary focus if healing the hearts of widows by giving love and hope to widows around the world. As one would expect, much of the material crafted for widows can also be of help to widowers.

Professionally, Cynthia is a registered nurse and an independent legal nurse consultant. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Greater Orlando Chapter of Legal Nurse Consultants. Cynthia has served on various committees for the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants.

Cynthia’s insightful articles will appear periodically here on WSN-MO. You can contact Cynthia at her website, www.walkwithawidow.com

Categories
Dating/Relationships Giving Support Grief/Dispair

HOW TO HONOR YOUR LATE SPOUSE AND A NEW LOVE AT THE SAME TIME

HOW TO HONOR YOUR LATE SPOUSE AND A NEW LOVE AT THE SAME TIME

Are you getting ready to think about dating? Alternatively, maybe you’ve already put your toe in the water?

Many widowers feel quite divided at this point – between the life they had with their late spouse and the new life they’re moving toward now.

I believe it’s possible to honor your late spouse and a new love at the same time. Let’s take a look at each one of these.

How to honor the memory of your late wife

There’s a good chance that you haven’t gone through her personal items yet. For some of you, the house may look exactly as it was on the day she died. My recommendations:

  • Go through the personal items slowly. Clothing, jewelry, toiletries, medications, letters, cards, photographs, etc.
  • Take as much time as you need. It may be harder than you think to do this; you may experience lots of emotions. Sad and angry all mixed up with fond memories. It can be quite a rollercoaster.
  • For some widowers, the sorting process is easier if you include others (close friends, family, or even a professional organizer). Moreover, don’t forget that other people may appreciate receiving some of her treasures. 
  • Giving her things to a charity is also a wonderful gift to others and honors your wife’s memory. 

You might be wondering what’s appropriate to leave in the house as you enter this new chapter of your life. My recommendations:

  • It’s fine to keep a few pictures that include your wife and your children on display. This is important for your children and an honor to your marriage. I suggest displaying them in your living areas and not in your bedroom. 
  • Keeping a few precious items in a drawer or a special box is also fine. 
  • If you have a special container of her ashes, displaying this in a meaningful place is just fine. It’s very important not to create a shrine though.

How to honor a new love in your life

You will always miss your wife. She may have been your soulmate. Your best friend. Your confidant. Be aware that it’s common for widowers to feel some guilt when they begin dating. You took vows to love, cherish and be faithful to her forever and you haven’t stopped feeling that way. 

With that said, there are ways to embrace and honor a new special person:

  • It’s important not to compare a new relationship with the one you had with your wife. It will be a different love, as it should be. 
  • You will love this new person with a love that is unique to her. She deserves a love that’s based on who she is.
  • Love is like a candle – it doesn’t lose any power by lighting another. If you have more than one child, you know that loving one still permits you to love another. It’s the same thing as having multiple friends. This principle applies to a new love in your life – it will not change the love you had before.

Where are you in your widower journey? Are you finding it tricky to honor the past and the future at the same time? Do you have questions about dating? I’d love to hear from you.

Regards,

Coach Christine

Categories
Dating/Relationships Family Finding Purpose Grief/Dispair Loneliness Moving Forward Service

Living In-Between?

Many of us have a natural inclination to do the things that we feel we do well. I, in many ways, have found aspects of widowhood very much like that. Last week I experienced what would have been my 19th wedding anniversary and the celebration of 25 years together with my late wife. Periodically I experience what I call one of my “sigh” days or moments. These are times when I feel a mix of sadness and extreme loneliness.

Normally on our anniversary, we would have planned to find a nice restaurant or based on how she was feeling, fix her favorite dinner as part of our celebration. Last week as I sat down in front of my McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese and fries, I had a moment where I didn’t know whether to commiserate on how far I have fallen or embrace how single I have become. This describes an area where I find myself struggling from time to time in my life.

In many of the writings I have shared with you, I have lamented the fact that I don’t seek to find another Robyn (my wife) but am always curious about whether I will find companionship in the future. I have the pleasure of having a couple of female friends that I talk to almost every day at some point. I don’t believe that either of these relationships will develop into marriage but enjoy the conversation and the occasional company. But as I have shared with you before, the older I get, the more convinced I am that I don’t know anything about women! I knew my wife but little about women overall. When it comes to my expectations in this area, I often find myself caught in-between. It has been four and a half years since my beloved Robyn passed away, and I am no closer to solving the puzzle of what I want in a relationship than I was then.

There are certain qualities that I look for in a woman, that I am pretty sure of. However, the thought of remaining in what sometimes is the peaceful tranquility of singleness is very appealing. I don’t know if I have the patience to deal with disapproving children, judgmental family, and friends at this stage of my life. However, I find myself lonely every day and often feel like my life has a larger stage to play on than my current circumstance.

Of course, I have been afforded incredible opportunities, such as sharing my thoughts with you, my brother, twice a month. I have participated in book signings and workshops with next year looking, even more promising in this area of my life. But I often feel that there is just more out there than to settle for living a “special event” life! I find myself not enjoying these events as much as I used to, as I know I will be returning to an empty home with only SportsCenter waiting to greet me. I am not saying this to sound melancholy or even borderline pathetic, but to let you know dear brothers that finding peace is a process. I am ready to serve others through my writing and speaking and will find peace in serving others if that is what is left for me. But see, I was a very good husband and taking care and sharing this world with my wife was important to me. We had dreams and goals. We had trips to make and a few more personal goals to meet. Laughter was the background music that always played in our home even when illness tried to rob us of our joy. Taking care of my wife, providing for her and cheering for her recovery gave me a clear purpose. A purpose is what I still am searching to find peace with to this very day.

Living in-between is a frustrating place to be. It calls for patience and discipline. It calls for faith. It calls for many times, just being quiet and listening for the small still voice telling you what to write next or what project to pursue next. See, when I think about it, it’s been a long time since it has been about me.

So I am not in treading on unfamiliar ground after all. Whew! I feel better already. Wow! I am glad you have been here on the other side of these keys. Boy! I still have so much to live for! I guess I better get back to moving, because only by moving can I graduate from living in-between.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback on my work. Maybe you feel that you are living in-between. Possibly you are struggling to find your purpose or as some call it, our new normal. But as the internationally known Pastor T.D. Jakes told me during a brief conversation 4 years ago. Just “keep moving brother, just keep moving”!

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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 twhitener@thedebriefgroup.net, LinkedIn @terrell-whitener or through the Widow Support Network