Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Remarried Widow?

Here’s an inside scoop for all of the non-widowed people out there. At widow gatherings one of the most popular lines is: “People who haven’t lost their spouse just don’t ‘get it.’” I shake my head and say it, too. It's true.

We widows don’t really expect you to understand, though, at least, I don’t. Life is full of tragedies that I haven’t experienced and therefore, I don't 'get'. Even within widowhood I don’t have the slightest idea what it feels like, for example, to have my husband run over by an ice-cream truck.

Would I give up ice-cream? Maybe only the flavors I never cared for? Would that count? Or would I just take a hard stand against buying ice-cream from a truck? It’s difficult to say.

Throughout the widow community here’s something else non-widows may not be aware of...There are:

 Widows who have re-married and still call themselves a widow!

Now, that’s something I don’t get. If I was fortunate enough to meet a man and fall in love and re-marry would I continue this blog/website and speak to widows?  Sure, having lived through this tragedy I would still have something to contribute to widows and widowers.

BUT: I wouldn’t continue to refer to myself as a widow. First of all, I wouldn’t be one. According to “A widow is a woman who has lost her husband to death and has not remarried. There’s hardly room for an argument here.

Some continue to argue anyway. “I’m still a widow!” “I’m still a widow!” “I’m still a widow!” Kinda disrespectful to the current husband and it has to make him nervous.

                            New Husbands Respond:

TOM: “Wait, honey. I’m still alive! Remember we signed papers and you vowed to love and honor me in sickness and in health ‘till death do us part? Well, I haven’t died yet. That was the first guy."

DICK: "You took my last name! You introduce me as your husband! I know you loved your first husband and will forever, but honey next year you and I will be married longer than you were to him."

HARRY:"Just because he was first doesn’t mean he’ll always be #1. He had you through PMS, but I got you at menopause. Neither one is a picnic.”

 Without mentioning names here are a few comments from widows about remarriage.

“Just because a widow falls in love again and remarries does not change that she went through the hell and heartache of being widowed.”

"Of course not" I say. "And I’m sure that pain rears its ugly head even after remarriage, but when you’re discharged from the army you may suffer flashbacks, still you hang up your uniform. At ease…you are no longer a soldier."

"Oh, and to stay with the soldier analogy.  If a man is in the Navy and he transfers to the Marines is he still a sailor?"  No sir!

“The new love does not replace the old one.”

"Yes, that’s exactly what he/she does. And, the new love might be a better kisser."

“They are now roommates in your heart.”

"Nice phrase, but only one of those roommates is taking up the closet space."

Hey, widows, divorce is a trauma. If divorced people remarry do they still tell people they're divorced?

Widows who are wives again have said that they are still widows because "My new husband sweetly helps to keep my late husband’s memory alive by talking about him and visiting his grave with me."

That’s called maturity and sensitivity and recognizing we weren’t born the second we met. That also may be called, “If I'm understanding about the dead husband maybe I'll get laid tonight.”

Some women still see themselves as married after their husband has died. That isn’t technically true either, yet it’s totally different than a remarried widow referring to herself as a widow.

Continuing to feel married after losing a spouse is pure emotion, a natural need to stay attached.  We cling to our old life while we are in a lane we never imagined we’d travel.  It's an emotional tie that’s tough to break, although two little words could break that tie for me,
          'Widow’s Benefits'...that ends when we remarry…


  1. life on grief street8:13 AM

    Hmmm, never thought about that one. I do not know of any widow remarried that still calls herself a widow. But it does lead to some interesting conversation if the second spouse dies-double widow? And I think about the whole burial thing-who do you spend your eternal life with-the first or the second husband? If the "widow" then re-marries a third time does she still call herself a widow? Isn't that somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy? Scary for the new spouse.

    On a more serious note.....As far as not getting it, I did not get it either before my husband died. But it also seems like we revel in the fact that we are in a group that no one understands. I use the opportunity to educate others about how I am feeling. I need to be careful about feeling too much as though no one really understands me. It can be isolating and not particularly helpful.

  2. I have only used the term "remarried widow" for brevity; it is much shorter than saying, "I was a widow, but now I'm married again." However, I do think that when we take those vows for the second time, it is much like the experience of becoming a widow, albeit much happier.

    There was no black and white, sharp emotional boundry between widowhood and marriage for me. I didn't simply wake up the next morning and feel married! Just like the early months of widowhood, it took time to absorb the new status and there were many times when shreds of the old life mixed in with the new, and caused mixed emotions. Maybe even a bit of denial! Difficult to explain. Perhaps it is a good thing that I am married to somebody who also was widowed... he gets me.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

    1. I have two small sons by my first husband who died. Because it really hurts me when someone who is just asking for advice asks me how me and my EX handle custody I always say (when the subject comes up) that I am a widow but I am now happily married toDaran. Something I just have to say, when referring to the late husband of someone who was widowed PLEASE do not say 'your EX husband. I do not have an ex husband nor have I ever. We were not divorced, we loved and were married to each other until death parted us. The term ex referres to someone who for what ever reason right or wrong broke their marriage vows and I feel it is insulting to the memory of my LATE husband and father of my sons to refer to him as my ex. Maybe this doesn't bother anyone else but it hurts me. I have been truly blessed to have found such a wonderful husband with whom to share the rest of my life. He is an amazing step father who helps me keep Davids memory alive for my children. I have chosen to keep my late husbands name as my middle name and my married name as my last name. Does anyone know what the traditional rule is on that? I didn't want to just drop my children's last name.

  3. pldrees7:28 PM

    I love this, it is so snarky (I mean that in the nicest way). I hate the whole widow's like a piece of toilet paper crazy-glued to your shoe - you can't shake it. I'm 4 months into this widowhood crap, I would remarry just to drop the mantle! I've heard of worst reasons.....

  4. Hyla Molander1:26 AM

    Oh, you know I love this post, partly because it probes for deeper discussion and partly because it also refers to me. It is all very confusing to have two husbands: one dead, one alive. As a writer and advocate for other widows, I am still a widow. I am a remarried widow. There is an identity crisis that comes along with getting married after being widowed. Yes, this is a crisis I wish for you, poor widow me. Each of my husbands are part of the same book, just as my childhood plays a part in my daily motivation. We are all shaped by these different chapters. I have watched these revisions of this new life. I hear what I tell strangers (or what I do not) and I feel the new mosaic take form. In widowhood circles, I am a remarried widow. It helps them know that they, too, can find the kind of love I again have in my life. When people comment about the spread in age of my children, I sometimes choose to tell them how the family was created. Sometimes I keep quiet. I will always be a widow, just as a war veteran is always a vet. I know that awful place called widowhood. I also know that being a widow has taught me to love my new husband even more. I did, however, change my twitter bio just last week to read "once pregnant widow, now blissful wife." By the way, the 3-yr-old I conceived with my living husband is sleeping next to me as I type this on my phone. To him, I am just mommy. Xoxo

  5. Anonymous4:59 PM

    "reveling" much of what I'm reading on widowhood forums is actually this sort of stuff. Almost like there is competion going for some sort of widowhood merit badge for martyrdom.

  6. miniwhinne1:49 AM

    I am a Widow. Have been for over 5 years actually this month. I loved my husband most of us did. 25 years of a great marriage,3 children then poof cancer, death and major grief that took 3 years away from me. But I am a lucky lady. I found someone when I wasn't even looking at the gym I work out at. In the Sauna for goodness sake. Total connection. Separated after a very in depth and sweaty conversation. I went to Virginia for the holidays and was gone for a week. Thought about him the entire week. Would I see him again? He was sure a nice guy. Should have given him my number. But figured if he was interested he would find me! And find me he did. I got back from my trip, and headed to the gym. Actually looked in the sauna! No luck, so into the pool I went. Started swimming my laps and up in front of me pops my sauna buddy! First thing he says to me is where have you been this whole week? He had come into the gym every day(he was on vacation)looking for me and I had disappeared! Now is that meant to be or what? We started dating and it was like two comfortable old shoes. Like we had been together forever. It all fit. Now it's been 1 1/2 years we have been together. A year of it we have lived together and been engaged. We are 8 days from taking off to Hawaii for our wedding in 10 days. I have been getting facebook posts and written several times on this site! I have been a widow. I will no longer be one as of the 25th next week! I am glad to no longer wear this title and look forward to my new marriage. My Peter will be in my heart forever, taken out to revisit the relationship and memories with love that was ours for so long. Gary my fiance and soon to be husband will take on the role of my new spouse. And though the love is different it continues to grow each day. I look forward to this new experience of growth and the title once again of Mrs. and wife. Thanks Carol for all your insights and wisdom you have written. I have enjoyed what you say immensely and it has been a great help to me these past 5 years. Aloha Melissa

    1. It's good that you feel that way. I'm so happy for you. I couldn't imagine ever loving anyone else after my first husband was killed so I certainly wasn't looking either. But about the issue at hand it's a personal one. Your choice is a great one, for you, but some of us feel differently, I myself am a remarried widow.I just hope that all of us who have been widowed can respect the feelings and choices of each other regarding the term 'widow'.

  7. grace4aseason12:06 AM

    Interesting…this is good conversation. Initially, I too hated the word “widow” as is symbolized a title that I never thought, wanted or signed up for, but I had to reconsider, thus gaining a new perspective. I was happily married for 17 ½ years with two beautiful children when I tragically loss my husband. I was proud to be his wife and honored to be the widow of an amazing and heroic man. I came to realize that both titles belong to me as it pertained to our life together in life and in death. This is my truth and reality.
    I am now remarried and personally I considered myself a married woman the moment I took my vows. However, I have no qualms about someone referring to me as a widow when associating me with my first husband. This is no disrespect to my new husband as I love him dearly; it just that it is what it is. I’m so thankful that my new husband and has the spiritual maturity and the confidence to not get caught up in the title issue as pertains to my past and my present. Therefore, my take on whether to keep or drop the title of “widow” if you’re remarried is this: It’s a matter of choice, comfort , and what is acceptable to your new spouse ( he must be considered). Don’t let others dictate to you on how you should classify yourself. The only person that needs to be considered is your current spouse.

    1. I agree with you totally. I am very fortunate that my husband is one of the men who is fine with me considering myself as a remarried widow given my feelings on the subject and those of my children who should also be considered especially if they are young enough to still be living at home.

  8. Love this post!
    Many can't even imagine the decisions we as widows must consider. I have been widowed for 2yr now after being married for 17 yrs & 3 kids. I am in a relationship that is progressing and the topic of marriage has come up. Initially I stated I would hyphen my current last name (the one my children also carry) with his. He was put off by this at first, being a very traditional type man. At a later date he said he thought about it and understood, what ever I choose is fine with him. I have since reconsidered, the social attention I receive being the widow of my late husband is difficult at times when moving forward in my personal life. Do I want to have that constant reminder and conversation point. ??? I don't know at this point. My youngest is 14, he would be my reason for hyphenating.

    1. If your fiancee is understanding and wouldn't be hurt by it then by all means hyphenate your name. Or just do what I did and add your new name to the one you have without the hyphen. My legal name is Jessica Faith Griffin Brasher. My last name is Brasher and when I sign something that asks for my first and last name I sign Jessica Brasher. If asked for my full name Jessica Faith Griffin Brasher if its first and last name and middle initial Jessica F G Brasher. I have two little boys with my late husband so I think I have an ideal of how you feel about the issue. Hope that this helps

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  10. Anonymous7:47 PM

    I was 28 years old, and 2 months married when he passed away. Acceptance of the word "widow" took along time, by that point, I felt it meant "survivor ".According to the dictionary I am one, according to the Canadian goverment I am not. To me the word "widow" realeases me from, we divorced, someone cheated,. I love even in death do we part.

    1. Have you ever had people refer to your late husband as your ex? And if so how do you deal with it? I get that a lot and if it's someone I'm close to I explain that it hurts me bc he was never my ex but if it's not someone who I feel comfortable having such a conversation with I just say "late" then they usually say "huh" and I say "my late husband we weren't divorced" and I smile so they don't feel like I'm being a smart a** .

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