Lately I’ve felt such a defined sense of the beginning and endings of our lives here on earth. Maybe it has to do with my experiences with the deaths of four people close to me – all in the last 2 years. Each person played a profound role in my life; first my late husband in 2010, then, my maternal grandfather in 2011, and now both of my paternal grandparents in 2012. The brevity of our time here on earth has been heavy on my heart and on my mind for it truly is like a vapor “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” James 4:14. We are here today and gone tomorrow so how do we make our short amount of time significant? I’ve been asking, “Lord, What is it really all about? These lives that you bless us with, what are we supposed to do with them?” I believe many would cringe at the words life and blessing even being used in the same sentence to describe their own lives for I think a vast majority feel a kind of mundane existence on a day to day basis. Not even necessarily a peaceful or contented existence, but a grindful reality where joy comes from a weekend of not working or a lazy Sunday afternoon watching football or a trip to the mall spending well earned money on more things that nobody really needs. Where is our joy in this life? What is the purpose of it all? This prayer has been playing over and over in my mind lately, and God has been imprinting it upon my heart, almost as a daily reminder for all of the “Whys” that I ask. Maybe it can be helpful to you as well as you ask yourself, what is this all about? Am I content to live in a sort of dull, lifeless, passionless existence or will I ask God, “What would you have ME do? How can my life bring you glory Lord with whatever time you see fit to grant me breath?”
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.
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! – Okay, 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 –