What NOT to say to a woman married to a former widower

Due to the accessibility of new thoughts, ideas and people that the internet has welcomed into our lives over the past twenty years or so, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with numerous women like myself who have also married former widowers.  The general feeling amongst this group is that they are sick of being treated a certain way because they married a former widower and are now finding a way to voice their frustrations by connecting with similar women through online forums. These women are,  consciously or unconsciously, often viewed as being involved in a default marriage because there was a previous wife, and if she had not died then they would have never been chosen as a wife. In fact, this is the only group of women (I think), who are expected to not only sit by silently and listen to people repeatedly talk about another woman who their husband was intimate with, but they are also expected to sit quietly with a supportive, loving smile at all times. This role can and often is the most emotionally taxing role a woman will ever be called upon to participate in.

I’m sure the same could be said for a man who marries a widow; however, since men generally are not as emotionally charged as a woman can be – generalization here folks – they are not affected quite like a woman is when she finds herself in this new relationship. 

Rita, an online friend of mine who I connected with via one of these online forums for women who married former widowers, wrote this list which made many of us in the group nod our heads in adamant agreement.  This list, although humorous in nature, details the dos and don’ts for speaking to a woman married to a former widower.  This list isn’t written to condemn those who have muttered the words in ignorance nor is it meant to point a finger at the silent pain that many of these comments can cause, it is merely presented here, with her permission, to educate the public on what is acceptable to say and what is really not acceptable to say. Honestly, I have probably been guilty of muttering one or two of these sayings in the past to an unsuspecting woman who married a widower.

General rule of thumb, we are not the late wife. Do not compare us positively or negatively to her. She did not have to live up to constant comparisons to another woman, and we shouldn’t have to either.  We are not seeking to be her in any way, we are comfortable women in our own skin and with our own unique qualities and personalities, and if it wouldn’t be appropriate to say in a divorce situation, it’s probably not appropriate to say in a late spouse situation either. 

Here’s the list. 

10 things NOT to say to a Former Widower’s Wife.

1. I am so happy that He has someone to take care of him now.  Right, because that is the reason I married my Husband, to fulfill the endless chore list left unfinished by the Late Wife.

2. She was his Soul Mate. *sigh*- Generally this word just makes me shudder. But, how insensitive to assume that God would prematurely take away the one true love that he handpicked for a person, and leave them alone to live out their life of grief and sadness for the rest of their days.

3. I don’t think he’ll ever get over losing her, or love anyone else like he did her – Right. He married me for sex and companionship. The Real Love dies with his previous partner.

4. It’s so sad she won’t ever know her “real” Mother. – It is sad that her first Mom passed away without getting to know her daughter. But, what a blessing that God gave her another Mother to raise her in the land of the living.

5. He sure moved on quickly, were you guys cheating on the late wife?? – What an insult to my Husband, and what an insult to me. Just because we haven’t moved on your time line, or what you think is appropriate does not mean we were acting morally inappropriate. Everyone handles grief differently, and some people just take longer to move forward than others.

6. She was a SAINT! – Yes, as is everyone once they die.

7. At least you don’t have to deal with an Ex Wife. – Oh yes, because that is just SO much easier than dealing with a Saint, etched perfectly and forever in the hearts and minds of everyone you know and love.

8. Oh, her furniture looks so nice in your house! – Sorry, but this is our furniture in our house.

9. She is watching over Him, always. – Really? Well, hopefully not in the bedroom, because that would be awkward for her.

10. She is waiting for him in Heaven! – Ok, great! That should be so fun, when we all get to meet up and play ring around the rosy together! The Husband, and Sister Wives!

And a few bonus ones –

His Wife likes it when…. – Actually, I am his wife. And I don’t like that at all.
“She would be so happy for you” –probably not, I can’t imagine any wife being thrilled with me being with her husband.
Just keep livin!!
Thanks for your input Rita!!

66 thoughts on “What NOT to say to a woman married to a former widower

  1. That might be one of the most insensitive and selfish things I’ve ever read. Why don’t you gives us the “10 things spouses of widows should never say”… #1 could be don’t make a list alienating friends and family.Who cares if someone lost a son or daughter, don’t offend the new wife or she might blog about you.horrible… just horrible

  2. It’s interesting to me, anonymous, that you have to post anonymously. I will not only put my name and face with everything I write, which may be controversial, but I’ll claim it completely. I have read and spoken to hundreds of women, including my late husband’s mother who agree with every single thing on this list. For once, it would be nice to have people be somewhat compassionate towards those who are alive and still have feelings.

  3. Jess, I think you should change your list to the “most insensitive and selfish things” not to say to a widower’s wife. Wives of former widowers have my props and need a voice like yours so that people can understand how others allow their own grief and personal feelings to cloud how they treat and acknowledge these innocent warriors. These innocent warriors are usually just trying to love their spouse and children, help them heal from their loss, with and have a semblance of peace. Wives of former widowers are my heroes for all they have to endure. They have to have a strong sense of themselves and sometimes even a shield to deal with the scapegoating and poor treatment they endure from selfish grievers. When you go to anyone’s home, such as a wife of a former widower, it is best to leave your baggage at the door, get to know her by asking questions about herself and her life, treat her as you would any stranger you are getting to know, then you would realize she as horrible as you wish she would be.

  4. I am married to a former widower as well. I’ve had to deal with a few of these myself. How is it insensitive and selfish to want to be seen as your own person? None of us wants to live in someone else’s shadow. Life is for the living. Let’s let the deceased rest in peace. I’m a very irreverent person in all aspects of my life. I find that has come in very handy while dating and now being married to a former widower. Humor and irreverence is a much better way of dealing with the feeling of being slighted than anger and disrespect.I feel like this post is honest and heartfelt.Let’s ALL keep livin’…and live and let live…Erin

  5. Hi Anonymous, First, let me thank you for your candor. I am Rita, and I am the one who crafted that list, not Jessica. Although, I do applaud her for bringing this sensitive topic to the community at large. I can certainly understand how you feel. As someone who has experienced grief and loss myself, I certainly understand the deep sadness of becoming bereft. I have felt it myself, and perhaps in another lifetime, from another standpoint, I may have felt as you do. But also, as a woman who has married a former Widower, what I have found is that while it is easy to imagine the dark place that one stands in while grieving, it is rarely imagined what the woman who has (re)married this fellow, might be experiencing. It is no small thing to be called by God to restore love, faith and family to a man who has lost everything. It is no small task for a woman to be called to raise another woman’s children that she bore, all the while standing in the shadow of someone who lived, and died, yes tragically, and yes well before her time. It is no small thing at all. I believe that Jessica’s post (and certainly my portion of it) was meant to inject some candor, context, and humor into a very sad, and frustrating situation that we ladies who walk this path every, single day – must endure. It was not our intention to offend, but perhaps, if nothing else to educate. I can assure you that for every one person who critiqued this list (likely those who have never walked this path that WE are walking) there were 10 people who applauded us. It is never our intent to be disrespectful to the late wife, late daughter, late sister, late mother, or late friend. It is only our intention to help you understand what we must endure to make a love relationship work with a man who we treasure more than anything on this earth. And, I would venture to guess that if it were your daughter, sister, friend, Mother, who were the woman standing in our shoes, you might feel convicted, rather than judgmental.Rather appropriate that this comes on September 11th, the anniversary of the death of many. Many were bereft 11 years ago when our nation was attacked by terrorists. And, yes, while we remember them today, I can tell you honestly that more than anything that personally, I thank God above for those that did survive. And for the women and men who (re) married them, the bereaved. I am so thankful for the children that were born through those marriages, and for the hope and dreams that were realized through that terrible, senseless loss. I am so grateful for the path that we walked as a nation as a result of that terrible tragedy, and for the destinies that were recreated from being brought on our knees in faith. Maybe we can take away from that experience at large and contextually apply it to yours. Thank God for Jess, for loving her Husband through and DESPITE his grief. And thank God for the women like her, who help rebuild from the ashes that were left behind. This blog was not a blog highlighting the sadness that we live through every day as a Mother/Daughter/Sister/Former Spouse/Friend of the deceased. This blog was about the living. The ones who go on and rebuild the broken pieces that were left behind. The ones with the guts to love a broken man, and to wipe the tears, snot and butt of the children who still need a Mother on this earth. This blog was about having the respect and the guts to celebrate life. And as humans with life, that is what God has called us to do after tragedy and loss, after we grieve, and after we mourn. We pick ourselves up. We rebuild. We grow. We expand. We survive. That is what this blog was about. Being sensitive to survival, now that we have spent years being sensitive to death. I hope you have a wonderful day Anonymous. Be called to be the very best you can be today. With love and respect, Rita Hertzog

  6. Which of the ten things in particular offended you the most Anonymous(1.59pm)? Jess was simply stating that it is difficult when some people totally disregard the feelings of a woman who marries/dates a widower. IMO she is not being disrespectful towards anyone’s memory, she is merely pointing out that many people seem to think it is acceptable to say disrespectful/ hurtful things to that woman.I am dating a widower and have had people say some of these things to me, esp #2 and #3. It is difficult to understand how it feels to have someone tell you that a past love was and always will be your man’s soulmate, and not you. Or that he will never love anyone as he loved her. How is Jess being horrible by saying this?Carla

  7. Unless you are married to a former widower than you have no clue how hard it is. It sucks at times and it seems at times that the late wife’s family are the ones who are intent on living in grief and alienating the new wife. Don’t judge unless you are in our shoes

  8. Well it’s good to know that if someone has a differing opinion on this blog they don’t get jumped on… geez.Rita: If the intent was humor, then have it. Death and the resulting situations that come from it are hilarious, kudos to you. I’m sure it’s annoying for a new spouse to be compared to the previous, probably more annoying that everyone has an opinion on it, but so what? Who really cares? Does it ruin your day? Is it so hard just to smile, nod your head, and go about your new life with your spouse? Just keep livin right?Carla: Oh you’re dating a widower, cool. Let me know how it goes.Cricket and Keith: Thanks for letting me know I don’t have an opinion on the matter. I’ll express one anyway. I’m sure it sucks, but it sucks for everyone, not just the new spouse, the family as a whole has to adjust parents and siblings included. Why should anyone be on pins and needles when speaking of a loved one? Obviously Jason and Casey were a big part of Ryan and Jess’ life, you never really forget do you? Maybe think of the moments with those “people” as a chance to remember and celebrate the people that helped make you who you are today? Can’t we be compassionate to all parties?I’m going to apologize in advance as I’m sure some will be offended by my keystrokes. I mean seriously, compassion for all? Maybe I just need to vent, I just can’t believe that this list seemed like a good idea. It seems pretty obvious who it was directed at… If you are truly happy, it won’t matter what others say, you’ll just enjoy the new life you have with eachother.

  9. I am assuming you are “the family”. No one is disrespecting the Late wife but we are the living and honestly the family should be grateful and thankful that there is some women who are willing to put up with all the nonsense we do because we love these men.We will make them happy and try everyday to be a loving partner to them so they can be happy the rest of their lives.

  10. First, again, this post has nothing to do with the death of a loved one being a funny situation, it has to do with the humorous aspect of the things that are said to a woman who steps into the role that the loved one left void upon their death. You are just reiterating everything we are trying to say, it’s NOT always about the late wife! Sometimes it’s about us. Having gone through the death of a spouse and having married a former widower I can honestly say that the two are equally emotionally taxing in their own rights; neither one more so than the other. If you have not been in our shoes you can NOT understand. We can try to help you understand our point of view by writing honestly about it.

  11. Anonymous,until you have been in the situation, you really have no idea how hurtful it is. Nor do you know HOW VERY OFTEN we smile, nod our head and go about our lives…trust me. Many times, things said are not said to intentionally hurt…but sometimes they are. Either way, they still DO hurt and still have a way of making us feel insignificant and as if we don’t matter. Somehow, I doubt you would appreciate being made to feel that way, no matter how “well intentioned” the comment was. It is not about being disrespectful to the person lost. IT is about moving forward and allowing us to have our own relationship with this person, not live in the shadow of the last one they had.

  12. Dear Anonymous,Please just stop for a moment and imagine the deep pain you are feeling, now understand we feel it too. We feel deep sadness for our husbands, knowing they lost someone they loved in a tragic manor, we do understand, and empathize with the hard parts of death, we see it and all that it does first hand. This list is not to alienate family and friends, it really isn’t. In a perfect world, everyone would understand everyone’s point of view, but they don’t, so this list and all that we as wow’s talk about is literally what we go through. If you are married, anonymous, imagine every single good and bad event being directly linked to either the late wife or her death. Imagine being told that we as the 2nd wives, need to respectfully celebrate all of the lw’s important dates. Most of us have done this in the beginning and years after, but there does come a time, when we as women, and wives and mothers NEED our separateness from the lw and all that goes with her. We will never, ever forget her, please know and understand this very important thing, we never will forget her.

  13. But that does not mean that we want to talk about her all of the time, we do not want every single good and bad event intertwined with her, we do not want people telling us they are angry that we are living the lw’s life, because all of the things we have, we also wanted. We do not enjoy feeling sad because our happiness coincides with so many others’ sadness. Picture that for a moment, if you were not allowed any happy moments for yourself. We women who are either gow’s or wow’s, are so very, very loving, compassionate, patient, strong, caring women, we do have to deal with so much more than the average relationship, but we do it because we love our men, and we deserve everything from him that he gave his lw, we are women too. We are just trying to educate and bring to light that if people would be a little bit more sensitive to just how difficult it can be to, in essence, share our husband’s, to an extent, everyone would get a long so much better. Our primary mission is not to alienate family and friends, we would all LOVE nothing more than to be accepted and to be a part of it all, but some won’t allow this, and all it does is put a huge wedge between everyone, and that’s not working for anyone. It is not selfish to want to be important to people to, to want to experience the joy’s and sorrow’s in our lives without the constant reminder of either the lw or her death, we can’t possibly feel good after many years of this being done to us, that does not mean we are cold, or selfish, it actually means the opposite, we are very feeling and caring and anyone, even you, would feel as we do if these things were done on a regular basis. We know how much you hurt, many of us have lost loved ones too.

  14. If only you could try to meet us halfway, try to see things from our life and point of view, and maybe even stop staying some of the things that are on the list, and there are so many more that I personally have had said to me that I became so sad, I started questioning if I should even be in my relationship, so I prayed hard, and God moved us away, to start over, so I feel he wants us to stay strong and be together, but if I had a different choice, and I could’ve gotten the other people in my life to just try to treat me better or try to understand how sad I was, how hurt I was, how much I just wanted to enjoy my life and not feel sad or guilty for being happy. See that in of itself messed with my mind in the beginning, the fact that my happiness came from someone else’s death, well that’s a hard one to get through, but I did and now I know that life can and should be good, happy and enjoyed, because none of us know how long we have here. My husband is so strong for what he went through, but I too am strong for chosing to be and stay with him and all it involves to be here, I sacrifice too, I give up too, I struggle too, but it is worth it, he loves me, he chose life and to be happy and trust me to start all over again, and that is hard, I feel family and friends should help him and support him, which means to support me too. In the beginning I did not mind family and friends speaking of his lw, but after a period of time, I did not want it anymore. That is just a normal, womanly response. If family and friends could just speak to my husband or themselves whenever they want to talk about his lw, that would be so much better. We don’t want to ever erase his past or the lw, but we want and NEED to be accepted and loved too, because we are pretty special people too and if people are not supportive of our relationship, why would we want them around, it only hurt everyone. So dear anonymous, please look into your own heart to see if there is something you can do to help make your family situation better as well, maybe meet the person halfway or at least try, because I can almost guarantee that he/she is not a bad person and wants what you and I want, and that is peace, love, to be accepted, maybe even liked, and to have a functional family and extended family. Take care and just think about all that has been said, thank you. xxoxox

  15. Having just lost my father I understand the intense pain of the bereaved. I imagine when one loses the spouse it is more intense. Hoewever, family members need to realize a difference. A sister, a sibling, a mother or a father or daughter or son CANNOT be replaced. However, a spousal relationship is different. God made us as men and woman to have a need for romantic/spousal love and when a former partner dies – while the loss is horrible and some may never recover and seek another spouse- very likely if one is Widowed young that person WILL find love again and possibly even remarry. As much as that hurts the left-behind famliy and friends the spouess CAN and IS replaced by a new person – a new spouse. This is incredibly hard for bereaved famliy members to grasp and often feel betrayed by this. You cannot replace your beloved daughter and go get another one on a dating site or at church or at your place of work. Yet, a widowed spouses CAN and does find another spouse. This is the nature of the difference. As a newly grieving daughter I can tell you that my parents were married for 48 years and it would be incredibly hard for me to imagine my mother dating or marrying another man . However, as uncomfortable and strange as that might make me feel I do not believe it’s my right to condem my mother to a life alone because of MY grieving issues. That is what it boils down to is it MY problem, MY grief, ME… NOT HER. Just because a Widower has chosen to remarry does not mean he did not love and cherish his previous spouse. It’s a testament to his love of life and heart of resislence that he Can and Does seek out love again…. It is inherently selfish of famliy members to expect the Widower to mourn forever more alone and lonely. And while family members certainly can and should speak of their lost loved one there is a time and place. And just because someone died it’s not a free for all – everything goes. Family members SHOULD be kind and careful of the new spouses feelings just as they should be kind and thoughtful of any person’s feeling. My father would not want me to use his memory as a tool or a weapon against another person. Grief should not blind to the simple and Godly way we should treat others. I will never ever forget my father -ever. My mother will not either – however if she choses to seek another parnter that is her preogative and who am I to judge or wreak havoc in her new relationship?

  16. I also am married to a former widower…and my former widower is married to a former divorcee. I am sure both have their challenges and are equally emotionally taxing at times.I know that he wouldn’t like it if we got together with my family and they always talked about how wonderful my ex was, things we did, memories, etc…it is just something that doesn’t happen in a “divorce”. Usually you got divorced for a reason. Well, I wouldn’t like it if every time we got together with his family they started pulling out pictures, talking about memories, etc. It would certainly get old fast. I am lucky they don’t dwell on the past and they are all moving on. Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting, but there is a time and a place to remember. And with the former widower’s new wife present, that just isn’t the place. Yes, she is brought up sometimes…and that is fine. The conversation happens, and then quickly moves to the present. I think that is the important thing. More talk about the present, less talk about the past. I have had a lot of loss. I have lost a nephew at the age of 2, a brother at the age of 41, and a sister at the age of 42. It sucks. My sister left behind 3 kids. I know the pain of loss, and I also know the importance of moving on. I also know the importance of humor. My brother and my sister absolutely would NOT want those they left behind sad and grieving. They would want us living and laughing. My brother always signed his name with Love, Luck, and Laughter…I know he would want us loving and laughing here on earth.

  17. Rita, your post brought tears to my eyes. Beautifully and compassonately explained. Thanks to you and Jess for not being afraid to tackle the tough stuff….bit even more, for showing such kindness while doing so. Class acts, the both of you. Anonymous, I hope you get to the point someday where you can make peace with both sides of this fence. Guessing the tone of your comments stems from pain and hurt, and I think all of us have experienced enough of both to at least relate on that point. And it does color how we see things. The beautiful part is, time (and prayer) can bring about great change in both. 🙂 Elizabeth

  18. I wanted to add a little more to number 8. When you marry a man, you usually bring your and his things into the marriage. When you marry a man who is a former widower, you also bring “her things”. When placed in that situation, you are sometimes damned if you do use “late wife” items and damned if you donate them, give them to family members or charity, or put them in storage. I have heard a friend tell me about how angry she was when she went to dinner at her father’s house and they were eating on her deceased mother’s plates, yet I have also heard the opposite of the sister of late wife upset that the new wife no longer had any items belonging to late wife on display as though she was trying to erase her memory. Please think for a moment that wives of former widowers are trying to do the best we can,decorate our own houses like you as a wife would feel entitled to and expect to do. Imagine having to live with daily reminders of your husbands past love all over your home and think about whether or not it is reasonable to see our side and not be offended that the decor has changed. Imagine having to dust off items and maintain items that are holding space in a home that does not fit all of your things? In addition, is it reasonable that when we are keeping items, most likely out of being respectful or utilitarian,to ask you not to say, oh, those are late wife’s dishes, etc. If there are items that you do not wish to see the new wife using, prior to the wedding, it may be time to talk to the former widower, but after the wedding, understand that these items now belong to the new wife and former widower, not the late wife. And instead of being offended by a change in decor, why not compliment her on elements of the new decor you like (as you would to your friends or acquaintances)? I have been fortunate that we moved into a new home and that I have a supportive in-laws and the children have no recollection of the prior decor, but I have felt hurt by what some unknowing friends have said about new women in their parent’s/siblings lives. I also have heard horror stories from other wives of former widowers and don’t understand why these women have to become scapecoats for their grief when all they have done is found someone to love. If you have emotional issues and complicated grief emotions, go talk to your friends or a therapist, rather than make well meaning women feel bad about trying to move forward in their life and create a healing home environment that is healing for all the people living under the roof. Do you really think that the late wife would want you to cause rifts in her former husband’s life or would she want you to welcome him and the decisions he made so you all could live as a cohesive unit? Wife of former widowers can feel so much emotional trauma that predated them and it is a lot for these warriors to take on. Please give them credit and the benefit of the doubt. Try to get to know who they are first before you pass judgement.

  19. To the above A, thank you. I literally broke down in tears after reading what you said and just everything I have been through and stories I have heard from other wonderful women, I know that sometimes maybe too often, we can feel like we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t, I think that is part of the point of Jess and Rita and all of us talking about our experiences and issues, we just want the grieving people to try to understand where we are coming from, we do understand where you are coming from, because we see it, feel it and experience it with our husbands and with the losses that we ourselves have experienced. We just want peace, acceptance and a little bit of sensitivity, and so many of us have had years and years and years of people saying things to us before we even considered it possibly being a little bit ok for us to ask them to stop, so we are not these uppity, self righteous, me oriented women, we have endured a lot before we ask to please start thinking about us, we have thought about you so many times. There has to be a way that we can all win. It does take a huge toll on a marriage and it would be so nice to have a happy, healthy, healed family and extended family. xoxoxox

  20. I had tears in my eyes after reading everything, we do feel at times as if we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t and some of the other feelings we feel change in time and are very confusing. None of us had a handbook or knew how very difficult this was going to be, and neither did the people who lost their loved ones, and I know that we all just want to be understood, accepted and appreciated for who we are and what we bring to our families. Communication is so very important, but even that does not always work, the people have to be willing to communicate or at least try to have an open mind to even begin to see things from our point of view. Society as a whole seems to be automatically on the grieving people’s side, but there should really be no sides, if we stop and think about it, we all have a common goal and that is to live a fulfilling and happy life, to go on, to be present, to heal. We all want and need the extra support of our families, friends and extended families as well, but if that cannot happen, we are forced to move on alone for the well being of our core family. Loss of any kind is hard, but so is the life that is left for the people left behind, trying to live it and go on and they need all of the positive love and support to help, even if some don’t understand exactly why we feel like we do or where we are coming from, just please know our pain is just as real as yours is, you would not want to share your life or husband with another woman, so just appreciate that we must be very special women to be called upon by God for this relationship and all of the challenges that come with it, and it is well worth it. And know that we want and deserve all that you and all of the other women out there deserve, anonymous who disagreed with how we feel, there has to be a way to find common ground and meet in the middle so that everyone can feel validated, respected, appreciated and accepted. I don’t want to feel the pain any longer, it’s been a long time and I am working on healing and letting it go, and focusing on my core family, but I too have lost out, lost out on a healthy, functioning extended family bond and relationships. I have my family, but it would’ve been nice to have more extended family. It feels like it’s broken. If I or any of the other women here can try to help others in our shoes or bring to light just how challenging some things are, in order to help fix or encourage the broken relationships, that would be a blessing, if someone can learn from what we have been through so that someone else does not have to feel the pain we have all felt, you included anonymous that disagreed, that would be a good thing. Don’t you feel like you and your family have missed out on good relationships as well? I am assuming an awful lot from the very little you wrote, and the tone, but please share your experiences if you feel it could help you or we could help you. I feel blessed and fortunate to have my husband and my children, and I will continue to live the best that I can and to heal, that is all any of us can do! xoxoxox

  21. My sis-in-law passed away almost two years ago, and her husband re-married this summer. Thank you so much for this list. It made me laugh and reminded me to be extra sensitive when interacting with them. We miss my sis–in-law so much, and we also love our new family member. It’s a paradox, isn’t it? We wouldn’t ever have chosen to lose our sis, but we love the new wife. God works in mysterious ways!

  22. Dearest Anonymous, do you NOT realize that Jess is INDEED married to a widower? When you’ve walked a minute in OUR shoes then come back and tell us how you feel. The above blog post is dead on with what WE women deal with and we do so with a SMILE on our face!

  23. Exactly Elaine and very well said. What was meant by this blurb was every person deserves respect and we really need to think before we open our mouths. Every wife deserves to be seen as the love of her husband’s life, just as every husband deserves to be seen as the love of his wife’s life. You are a very sensible, loving, grieving daughter. When you give birth to your second child the love you feel for your new child takes nothing away from the love you feel for your first child. People who are precious to us are irreplacable, but in the case of losing a spouse, you just might be fortunate to find someone to share the rest of your life journey with you. The love you feel for your new spouse takes nothing away from what you felt for your deceased spouse. It is a new love for both of you.

  24. You try going through it. It’s mental and emotional torture. I’ve had all this plus the “You’ll never be as good as her” and “You’ll never be able to replace her” from his best friends and his mother and sister. This article is the one that made me feel better. I love the bluntness and confidence from the author! I’ve been reading on this topic on and off since we have been together, from the beginning and this is literally the best one. Sure, there was a loss, it was sad, I was at the funeral and helped pack her things for him after she passed because we were friends for years beforehand. I was the one who brought beer and every comfort food I could when he returned home from the hospital out of state when she died. I have been humiliated, insulted and affected beyond any possible way words could ever describe. This article is extremely appropriate for those in OUR shoes.

  25. Yes! Going through a loss is hard, I lost someone 6 months after my now husband lost his. I understand both sides. I understand his pain and I understand every single one of his struggles but I have this whole list plus much harsher ones on me while my friends actually understand and never have spoken about him in my husbands presence.

  26. This is why I could never, ever, ever marry a widower. I am married, and this is both of our first (only) marriage… but my husband was engaged to another woman, so I deal with jealousy over her sometimes. I think it would take a really strong woman to be able to marry a widower.

  27. Thank you so much for this post! I’ve read so many articles that advise new wives to “share” their husband’s heart with the former wife….are you kidding me?! I love what you said about if it’s something you wouldn’t say in a divorce situation, probably shouldn’t say it here either. Who else would be expected to live in a house with an ex’s picture on the wall or clothes in the closet? Although the marriage ended tragically and not by choice, it did still END. I used to struggle with the thought that these feelings may be cold or irrational. Thank you for validating them.

  28. Such great comments and thoughts. I am a wife of a former widower and it does get difficult at time and people can be insentative without even realizing it. One of the greatest challenges to get past is guilt that you have found happiness out of great loss and sadness

  29. I’m a Widower about to get married for my second time and I found this to be very insightful. I catch myself especially when things are going towards a fight and especially if that fight involves her son from another.. (Never married). I know I say things I shouldn’t and make comparisons but I never really think about how damaging that can be? My mother is also one of those people who loves to wear her foot in her mouth and keeps photos of my late wife in her home for my kids to see.. My fiancé is very uncomfortable by this and I don’t blame her.. But with a world of Facebook and memories shared for all how does one avoid being incesitive while also being understanding that others might want to remember their loved one? 🙁

  30. OUR marriage is only a month away (widower (70’s & me 60’s)after being together 3 years and I can relate so well to these posts! I was wondering why I feel so strange about certain friends of LW’s comments & behaviors. It shocks me how insensitive some people can be. Thanks, Lilly Bell for voicing your comments, and others –it helps me to understand and have perspective about my own feelings and others. There really is so little communicated about the subject. When I have time to write in the years to come….

  31. I just can’t wrap my head around feeling like an outsider when my husband of 6 years condones his adult daughter’s grief and need to memorialize her deceased mother of 10 years, or when the two of them get together and forget I’m in the room. I see myself, when the two of them get like that, as “the replacement wife” or “an outsider” and it hurts! Is the grief this adult daughter has for losing her mother 10 years ago supposed to go on forever? She’s nice to me, mind you. This is my issue that of feeling like an outsider or non-existent when they get together, and I know it’s my issue that I feel hurt, but I can’t wrap my head around “being understanding and not taking it personally” kind of mantra.

  32. She will grieve the loss of her mother forever but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be respect for you – the new wife – and respect for the fact that it’s not appropriate behavior to treat you the way they are treating you. Comes down to one word for me, boundaries. Set em up and enforce them. People will only treat you the way you allow yourself to be treated.

  33. I hate Facebook memories. Her family still tags him in all the pictures. I feel it is very disrespectful to me. They can grieve all they want but to include my husband in those tags always causes fights. Mind you, it is not like him and his former wife had any kids together (that would be a little different).

    On another note…what do you guys think of him still wanting to spend holidays with her family? Remember, NO KIDS. Why would he leave me and my family to spend it with them? So fed up!

  34. I would struggle if I had to see my husband with another woman in our facebook feed (granted we share a page and he’s never on to begin with). I understand he had a life with her and it would make sense to tag their biological children in something like that but it doesn’t seem to be a respectful thing to do when a widower has moved forward. I like to view it the same as a divorce situation. If it wouldn’t be appropriate to do then, it probably isn’t appropriate in widowhood either. It usually comes down to boundaries is what Ryan and I have found. You set the boundaries and although you can’t control whether or not he (or extended family) adheres to the boundaries, but you can control your reactions. I found early on it was easier to unfollow people on social media who were not respectful of our relationship and for a time even completely logged off of facebook because I wasn’t going to allow the drama into my life. Do what you can do and hopefully some of the rest of it falls into place.

  35. Thank you all, so very much for sharing such deep and intimate thoughts. My husband and I have been married a year now, dated over 2 years, and I keep thinking the inappropriate comments will subside….but not so much. We recently moved out of ‘their house’ and it has been ten times worse ever since. All of the memories must have been pulled up during the transition. I loved this read so much and actually vowed to print it and put in my purse for those who continue the weekly comments about how in love they were, how amazing she was or how devastated he must be since her loss. I know they loved each other. I am happy he is a loving husband. But to the families who have had to suffer such great loss, please – oh please, take some time to be happy for the one still here who has found love. Be supportive of the one who decided to live with and care for them, without being so thoughtless about their feelings. I did not know anyone else felt this way. I honestly was starting to feel so guilty about wanting to be the only woman in his life. I have decided to find a support group to help in this process knowing now, I am not alone. May God bless those of you who sent such supportive messages.

  36. Katy, I am so glad to see someone else struggling with something similar. My husband and I are newly married and I am having an increased issue with insecurity as time goes on,in part to peoples comments ,as well as HIS need to remind people of her??? It is very odd to me and hurtful. I eventually had a talk with him about his introduction of me to others. (She passed 4 years ago. We were married about 7 mo ago) When he would introduce me, he would say; ” This is my wife Jo. I was married to Brenda for 10 years. She was a wonderful woman.She passed away and now I am married to Jo.” The response would be a lengthy conversation about how great she was,etc etc. I would feel so embarrassed, like I was an intruder to her. After a few months, I finally asked him why he did this? He said that he wanted people to know his relationship with her was ended due to death, not divorce. I just did not understand why ANY explanation was necessary? I then expressed how it made me feel. I asked him how it would make him feel if I introduced him as my new husband but I had been married to Mike for 27 years and now he and I are married? He has not done it again since. I feel badly as if I should suck it up and not be bothered. It is a difficult place to be in. It s so very hard to feel as if you will always share your husband with another woman. One whom is looked at through rose colored glasses because she is deceased. I am alive and human. I make mistakes and far from perfect. Where did you find the support group? Thank you for your honesty and taking the time to share!

  37. Boy can I ever relate to this! I cringe when its birthday,anniversary,death anniversary,etc. People that have not lived this position have no idea what i feels like to feel second place

  38. Ryan and I have had the same conversations with people. If it would not be appropriate to say in a divorce situation, it is probably not appropriate to say in a widow/widower situation. At least that tends to be the standard that we enforce and follow.

  39. So happy I found this site! I too deal with these thoughtless comments and feel extremely twisted on how to deal with it. To make matters worse, I have to deal with a permanent reminder of my husband’s deceased former wife….a lovely portrait of her tattooed on his arm. Yay me….

  40. I have been dating a widow now for about six months. His former wife passed away five years ago. They were going through a divorce. He has moved on and is ready for this relationship. His former in laws are the problem. They are constantly keeping his adult children stirred up about him dating again. They condemn him for everything he does. The divorce was his fault and they truly believe the stress from the divorce brought back her breast cancer. It did not. He didn’t leave her because of her cancer. Neither of them was happy any longer. It was a joint decision to divorce. He was the one who moved out-so he got the blame. They think he should be sitting at home staring at a picture of his former wife. He has as little to do with them as possible. It just hurts me to see the pain he goes through with his children. I stay out of it. I try to offer support to him. They are down right hostile to me when we are out and encounter them. I try not to take it personally. I really believe its not me-they would react to any woman he dates. It is hard though. My two cents…..

  41. My situation is reverberating here..and I’m not married to the *W* in question.. probably never will be.
    Dating 8 months, after a brief separation (he broke us up over the phone because of guilt). His late wife has been deceased 4 years last month.. a long battle with cancer. By all accounts he was a dedicated caregiver. I did caregiving for both of my now-deceased parents, so at first I thought that would help with bonding. He pursued me for dating, and does alot of the work towards our being together-drives 90 minutes each way. Reason I don’t visit him more is he has a recurring house guest-a female friend- who stays there whenever she has work to do in the area. I had no idea this was going on- he was just glad to come to my place and there is much more room at my home, so I didn’t investigate. Dummy me. He has never said he loves me-because he will not open up. he has his female friend (who has a BF!). My comment on widowers is this: They are not saints, they are a royal PITA to date with emotional baggage, and they are crafty as hell constructing walls around themselves emotionally. My W looked great on paper..4 years isn’t “yesterday”..he seemed available in every way.

    So yeah.

  42. I’ve been with my W a year and 4 months his 19 and 22 year old children will not acknowledge my presence we aren’t married his young adult children don’t even want me in their home it’s making life very stressful I feel him pulling back because he is torn I went to a family function at his house finally against the kids wishes and they flipped out cursing and carrying on like 4 year olds temper tantrums I’m at a loss I love this man insanely I see my life with him but his kids won’t let him move on they are being so selfish rude and disrespectful I’m sad because instead of moving forward we are at standstill any advise

  43. 16 years, I’ve been with my widower husband for 16 years, and his Mother STILL calls me by his dead wife’s name. We have been together longer than they were, but my name is not important. Yet, she wonders why I don’t like her, and I turn out to be the bad guy. I absolutely despise the holidays and find my anxiety just increases around this time and lasts until Christmas is over.

  44. What a wonderful page!!! Do you have a Facebook group or anywhere there are more of us out there!? I’m BRAND NEW to dating a widower… def need help navigating this.

  45. I’ll refer you to Abelkeogh.com. He was a lifesaver for me the first year! I also have my story in one of his books. Send him a message. He has a facebook page for women married to widowers. I’m not on it anymore. It was time for me to move past that title (as you will at some point as well) but in the meantime you will glean so much love and support from his resources.

  46. Oh my, I am so so so happy I found this site! I deal with these stupid and thoughtless comments daily along with down right hate toward me. It is extremely hard to deal with it. To make matters worse, my step-son has to see it daily along with his 3 “new” siblings. I have to deal with a sister in-lawq (my husbands sister) who was best friends with his wife and she along with her children won’t acknowledge me or our son we had together. But, I love my husband so much! Ugh!!

  47. Incredibly powerful and thoughtful post, Rita. God bless you … and Jessica who shared these thoughts and wrote some powerful sharing herself. I am not married to a Widower, but seriously dating one for a year now, with talk of a future together, and close friends for a year before that, casual friends for a couple of years before that. Have gone through a lot of this as people have had to get used to seeing him with somebody new after a long marriage to someone he deeply loved and who is widely considered a Saint. Many have embraced me, though some still look at me as a substitute for the real deal, and not being open to me. Thankfully, my boyfriend has a big enough heart to have loved one and now to love another and that is what sustains me….I have never been treated so lovingly, kindly, honestly, and we are well matched in demeanor and interests. Yet co existing with a past memory and the grieving process has not always been an easy road. I will say the one contention we’ve dealt with recently – would love to hear your opinions – are pictures of them as a couple. I don’t mind a large family picture in the hallway which includes the two adult kids … out of respect to the kids … nor their wedding picture when they are both very young in his office. I did mind an electronic photo display which had many pictures of them as a couple in the kitchen, and while it was starting to include a few of us, I just found it disconcerting when their happy pictures flashed by. He did not understand my discomfort on this, feeling I should be confident in our current love, yet finally just removed it because he could see and I expressed that it was uncomfortabled for me. He has steadily removed all of her past clothing and sorted through other things and given them away. He also has a bulletin board of pictures of her on the floor of his office … I have not taken issue with this, as it is not in my continual view, though yes, wish it were pictures of us and some day might be. Hard to know where to draw the line – what to expect, what is reasonable to coexist with. It’s a journey, that’s for sure; progress is being made.

  48. Wow. Stumbled on this site for good reason I guess. I am currently dating a man I’ve been with now for about 2 years. He lost his wife of almost 30 years to cancer. She has been dead for 10 years and he just this past January ordered her headstone. That was largely, well maybe completely, due to a rather large disagreement we had. I struggled with many things when first dating him. The big thing being her clothes still in the bedroom. I told him that I felt like I was having an affair with someone. Knowing full well she couldn’t come back, it didn’t bother him. I suspected he had issues with moving forward and dealing with her death which is why he never got rid of her things. Finally he cleaned her belongings out of the bedroom when I broke down in tears thinking I just couldn’t go over to his place anymore and deal with it. Maybe what hurt the most was that he knew it bothered me but did nothing about it. Cleaning things out certainly stirred up his adult children and I almost regretted the entire thing. I appreciated the love and support that both he and other members of his family showed me and contended that it made our relationship stronger. The headstone however was a bigger battle. He finally got that taken care of but it remains bitter sweet for me. Although I believe for he and his children it needed to be done but I just keep thinking I’m like a substitute teacher. I’m just filling in while his real love can’t be here but will never be the “real deal”. Once he dies I’ll return him to her and I’ll go on with my life without him. He has discussed our future and even mentioned marriage but I just keep thinking that’s not the best idea for him or his children. Who knows if we (all of us) will ever be at peace with moving forward.

  49. Just because you lost a father does not mean that you know what it feels like to be widowed. A spouse cannot be replaced. One never gets over losing a loved one, particularly one they were so intimate with and built a life with.

  50. Until I read this I thought I was going mad.
    I cannot get over how insensitive some people are who feel it’s their God given right to openly compare you to the LW.
    I would never do that so why do people think your presence is their key to offload all their memories onto you & make public comparisons, I just think it’s downright rude and disrespectful.

    I have been dating a lovely kind man for over 2 years and have been subjected to many incidents of this kind, the worse one was witnessed by my W (I’d only just told him about previous incidents) and thankfully he saw it for himself.

    His wife died 10 years ago, he never moved on but I know why now, he wasn’t allowed to.

    We no longer socialise with people who behave like this & I unfriended people who think it is appropriate to still tag him in photographs of his LW.

    The most recent drama has been instigated by his mother to cause a rift between us & his step daughters, all very messy.

    We know that the venom has been shared with other relatives but we’ve decided to not discuss our side of events because we did nothing wrong.

    I now choose not to attend family functions with these people, he has the choice to attend alone, he knows my views, I just wish I felt comfortable to go & hold is hand but I’m not being disrespected by people who are obviously just thinking about their own grief and not his.

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