Two Practices That Helped Me Survive My Grief

There are two separate but related, and equally important, practices that have helped me through my grief journey. At the beginning of loss, you are simply trying to survive. You struggle to keep your head above water and try not to drown. But eventually you will have to learn how to live again. These two practices have helped me move from survival to living.

Gratitude

When I lost my husband, the earth collapsed and I shattered. Time stood still. Everything was wrong and nothing was right. I wanted to go with him, and it felt so unfair to know that I couldn’t. I didn’t know how I was ever going to make it through this new life of sorrow and pain, but I knew one thing – I knew how grateful I was, and always will be, to have had him in my life. We never even made it to our third wedding anniversary. I had him for such a small amount of time and it wasn’t enough! That small amount of time wasn’t enough time for us, and yet it was. Because he changed me. I lived so much life in that small amount of time, and in that time I felt so much love. It was enough to last through his death and through my life. For that I will always be grateful.

I am now living the life of a widowed parent, a life I never wanted for myself, yet here we are. It would be easy to spend my days frustrated and bitter about never having a break or the chance to get proper sleep, about the messy house I have neither the time nor the will to deal with appropriately, or about the inevitable loneliness that sneaks up on me when I’m exhausted from life. And then, of course, there’s the parenting… alone. Everything about parenting alone is hard. Now pile that on top of the grief and what you are left with is a mess. Frustration, anger, and bitterness are easy to fall back on, but they don’t help you. They don’t make life easier, they just making living harder. I have my days when I fall into the trap of self-pity and focusing on what I lost, but I try to keep those days few and far between. Instead, I try to focus on all that I have and who I am – an imperfect mess who tries hard and falls a lot but, despite the fear and exhaustion, tries again anyway. Because I had him, I have an amazing little girl who reminds me not of what I lost, but of who I was blessed to have had. And because I have her, I will always have a piece of him here with me. Every day I remind myself how grateful I am to have known him, and to have had the chance to share that part of my life with him. He is now part of my story, and even death cannot steal that away.

Leaning Into Pain

Because of my writings, many people have commented on my strength. But I am not always so strong, and I certainly don’t often feel that strong. No one can be strong all the time. I believe it is important to allow yourself time to break under the weight of your grief. The idea that we need to suck it up and deal with the pain by pushing it down and hoping it will go away, or by simply pretending it isn’t there, is not only detrimental to our mental health, it’s a lie. Losing a loved one can be deeply devastating to our lives and to our own sense of self and belonging. Instead, you need to bring this pain into the light, acknowledge it, feel it, let it devastate and break you. You cannot tend to a wound you won’t acknowledge. I think of the pain as a black hole in the center of my life. I could keep walking around the hole, avoiding it, but it wouldn’t make it any less there. So, I took the advice of someone who had faced grief long before I did and I leaned into it. I leaned into the pain I felt every overwhelming, mind numbing, piercing bit of it. At first, I did this every night after I put my daughter to bed. I would put on music that made me cry and I would sit on the floor and talk to Matt and cry. I would cry so many tears that I stopped bothering to dry them up with tissues, I wanted them to fall as far as they could fall. 

No matter how you do it, you need to reach into the part of you that is dying and give it a voice. Give your pain a voice. Let it speak those terrible words and feel those awful truths, because they are your truth. The overwhelming brokenness and the feeling that you are drowning in grief, those feelings are real. This is not permanent, but it is real now. And to get past it and away from this terrible truth means giving it a voice, leaning in, and then being able to stand tall in your gratitude for having had something that is this hard to lose.

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The Night I Became A Widow

It’s been a while since I’ve actually sat down and written anything. Too long, really. I am coming up on two years since the night I lost my husband, two years since the night when everything changed.

I was at home with our thirteen month old daughter waiting for my husband to come home with the pizza he went to pick up for us. It was a Friday and I had had a very long week home alone with a very fussy baby. I was a stay-at-home mom and my husband had been away on a business trip. He had gotten home from the trip on that Wednesday night and come Friday, after a full week of seemingly not stop fussiness, I was tired and done and I didn’t feel like cooking. So when he got home from work, he offered to go out and pick up dinner so I wouldn’t have to cook. He even offered to take the little one with him on the drive just to give me a short, albeit much needed, break. Normally I would have happily accepted the break, but she had been just too fussy and I thought both of them would be miserable in the car. So she stayed home with me and my husband went off on his own.

Before he left the house he said that he wanted to sit down and have a serious conversation about moving when he got back with the pizza. We never had that conversation.

I called Matt to ask him to pick up milk on his way home. He didn’t answer so I sent him a text hoping he would see either my missed call or the text so he wouldn’t have to run back out later. A few minutes later I called again… and again. Matt was always on time. He was the kind of guy who would call me to tell me he’ll be 5 minutes late because he needs to stop for gas. So after 15 minutes I got worried, but I patiently waited. After half an hour I was very worried. By that time I had decided that he had been in a car accident and I just had to wait for him to call me and tell me what’s going on. By 45 minutes I decided that the car accident was bad and he was hurt and couldn’t call me, or else he would have already, and I started to panick. I tried to wait a full hour before calling the police to try to find him but I couldn’t make it to the full hour. I called the state police and told them that I think my husband had been in a car accident because he’s almost an hour late getting home. The officer asked me where I think it happened and I told him and he said he would have someone from the local PD call me. I tried to wait until they called. I tried so hard. I think I waited 3 minutes before I couldn’t take it and I called the department myself. The officer who answered told me that my husband had been in an accident and that two state troopers were on their way to my house and they would explain everything.

They don’t send cops to your home to tell you everything is alright.

The words, “what happened” got stuck in my throat at first, but I swallowed them. In that moment I knew that nothing good would come from asking this question he can’t answer. And I knew that if I asked, I would know. An eternity went by waiting for those officers. I stood at the porch door watching and begging Matt to just come home. Each time I saw headlights I would feel hope, and each time it wasn’t him I would feel the rush of dread. I remember saying over and over, “Just come home! Fuck the pizza, just come home!”

And then I saw two police cruisers pull up. Holding my baby in my arms, I ran outside and greeted them at the door, two officers: a man and a woman. I shook the officers hand and I asked him what happened. He asked if we could go inside. It was freezing out so I invited them in. When we got to the living room I asked again, “what happened?” And he said, “why don’t you have a seat.”

I don’t really know what happened next because with those words I knew. I just knew. I sat down and I looked at him and I made him tell me. I remember telling him no over and over. I was begging him to tell me he was wrong, just kidding, this is some terrible cruel joke! I hoped that Matt would be in the back of the squad car for doing something stupid, some stupid thing that he would never do because he didn’t do stupid things like that. I needed something else to be true, anything else, just as long as he was alive. Just as long as he would come home.

But instead, these officers came to my home to tell me that my husband would never walk through that door again. They told me he had a cardiac event behind the wheel, he was passed out when the accident happened.

My memory of the rest of that night is a blur, I can remember bits and pieces but nothing in detail. I remember calling my parents and telling them what happened. They got in the car and drove to my house immediately. After they arrived I had to make the hardest phone call of my life. I had to call his mom and tell her. My parents offered to make the call for me but I said no, it had to be me.

I remember going to bed. I was in a fog, I was bewildered. And as I was climbing into bed I got a phone call from Life Choice, an organization that handles the procurement of organ and tissue donations. My husband was a registered organ donor. He and I both felt strongly about donation since I had fairly recently donated my own kidney to him. He was a transplant patient and I am a living donor. So when they called and asked me the many questions they had, I told them to take it all, take everything they can. I didn’t know about funeral plans or anything like that (I was only 29 and I never thought this would happen!) so I told her to take everything and we can figure out those plans afterwards. But there was a part of me that held out hope that it wasn’t really Matt. That they were wrong.

I cried myself to sleep that night. I talked to Matt and told him how much I love him and need him and want him to come home. I laid in the bed like I did when he would lay next to me and imagined him there holding me while I cried myself to sleep. I found myself doing that quite a lot over the first year. I liked to imagine him holding me, it just made everything feel easier, even if it wasn’t real.

Over time, though, memory fades. I have forgotten what it felt like when he held me. I have forgotten many of the little things. I can’t imagine him the same way I used to. The image is more vague, his words are harder to string together in my head, I find it harder and harder to know what he would have done or said in a given situation. I don’t live in the same house anymore so I can’t look around and see the memories in my space, because he never lived in this space. That’s the hardest part of all of this – losing the memories. It’s as if that last pieces I have of him are slowly being chipped away. I feel like I keep losing him, bit by bit.

But time has continued. Our daughter gets older and life has to keep moving. Time won’t pause for me, it won’t stop and wait until I’m ready to move with it. Time will just keep moving all the same, whether I go with it or just watch it pass me by. Sometimes I have felt like time can be an enemy, but I have realized that time is neither friend nor foe. Time just is. It doesn’t care about me. It is not kind or cruel, it is indifferent. It does not care.

Two years have passed by since the love of my life died. He was 38, kind, sweet, smart, sarcastic and witty, and so loving. He wasn’t always the easiest person to be married to because he was sick with kidney disease. I wasn’t always the easiest person to be married to because I often failed to see things in perspective. But between his dialysis and hospital visits and transplant and my hard headed, forgetful, insecure ways – we were happy. He was my other half. At the end of the day, no matter what, I had him. As long as we always made the effort we would always be good. I knew that. And I think he knew that, too. Because beyond anything else, we loved each other. We loved each other enough to always work to fix the things that weren’t working. We loved each other enough to always work to make each other happy.

It has been two years since the love of my life came home, and I can tell you this: The only thing we have is time. The only thing that matters is what we do with our time. And the only thing that remains of us after we die are the impressions we have made in the hearts of the living.

Use your time wisely. Hug your kids when you get home. Pick your wife a flower. Put a note in your husband’s jacket just to remind him how much he means to you. But more important than that, remember that time is fleeting. Go make a memory every chance you get. When you fight, fight honestly and fairly. Apologize when you’re wrong, go to bed angry when you’re too angry to keep talking… but never forget to say “I love you” and never forget how much you mean it. I would do anything to have another argument with my husband, or to ruin another home cooked dinner, or to worry about his health again. I would give anything if I could get those moments back… the ones I missed, the ones I’m never going to have.

One day you may wake up and find that you will have no more moments with the person you love, so use the moments you have wisely. You will gain more from giving in those moments than you ever will from expecting. And what happens if you wake up and find that time is up?

Healing Through Creativity

Over the last year I have spent the majority of my “spare” time and energy on personal growth. Being widowed is hard. But I am not just a widow. I am a stay-at-home widowed mommy of a toddler. This pretty much goes without saying, but sanity is relative for me. The house is always messy, even when its clean! And there is not a single corner of a single room that does not scream toddler. The biggest problem, of course, is that this new life of widowed motherhood makes it nearly impossible for me to find time for myself. But I recently made a change to this and I now have “creativity Tuesdays”.

Since shortly after my husband died, Tuesdays have been my “day off”, when my daughter goes to Grandma’s house. I used to have a simple rule for Tuesdays: NO GUILT. I spent so much time overwhelmed and broken that occasionally I could do something for myself on Tuesdays, or use it organize my life. But many days I was so tired and just wanted to sleep, or stare at the wall, or sit on the floor and cry. So Guilt Free Tuesdays was what I needed to survive.

I have recently changed the rule. I decided that it is time for me to have Creativity Tuesdays. My two creative outlets are writing and photography. The last birthday gift my husband ever got me was a very nice Nikon DSLR camera, but after he died I stopped using it. I just couldn’t see beauty worth capturing, so it ended up hiding out in the back of my closet just sitting there. Well, I dug it out and I’ve been playing with it and learning how to use it. I have started teaching myself a little here and a little there. I love it! So now between writing and photography, I finally have hobbies. I finally have something that I have started doing just for me. Both are solitary activities for me, something that I am a little surprised about. I have always thought of myself as a social butterfly, and I’m not sure that I would have enjoyed spending this type of quality time by myself so regularly. But I find it peaceful and personally rewarding, even if most of what I write is read by only myself and my photos are only seen on my walls. And as I am raising a toddler by myself, with no one coming home to me at the end of the day, without a workplace to escape to during the day, without someone to share any of these responsibilities with… it is nice to feel like I can finally breathe. It is nice to have an identity that is more than just mommy.

Somehow, in losing my husband, that transition from wife to widow changed everything and I lost me. I am starting to feel as though I am getting me back. Not the same me, that person is gone and won’t be coming back… and I am fine with that. I like the new me. I am not the person that I once was. I have changed in ways that I couldn’t explain if I tried, in part because I don’t exactly know who I am yet. I’m working on it… thanks to my husband.

When Will Good Enough Ever Be Good Enough?

 

I am a widow, and the mom of a toddler. It isn’t easy to be both of those things. Hell, it isn’t easy to be either one of those things, but here we are. When I lost my husband everything changed. My life changed, everything was different and I didn’t know what to do. But I knew that if I was going to give my daughter any chance at the life she deserves, I had to change.

Self-compassion is something I learned only after Matt died. Everyone would tell me to go easy on myself, but to me these were words that had no meaning. As much as I wanted to understand what this meant, I had no idea how to do it! I had my ah-ha moment after doing a lot of work with my therapist and doing a lot of soul searching. And then one night, as I was hanging pictures on my wall, I dropped a picture frame. It wasn’t a special or important picture frame, or one that I even particularly liked. It didn’t break, I simply fumbled and dropped it. But when I did, the words that came out of my mouth were terrible, and they were cruel. You’re so stupid! What is wrong with you? I hate you. This may seem like an over the top reaction to dropping a picture frame that didn’t break and that I don’t even like. It is. This is an over the top reaction to absolutely anything. And these are things that I would NEVER say to anyone… except me. But on this night something was different because I stopped myself, and I said out loud, “Stop it! Shut the hell up. Go to bed.” And I did.

I made a habit of doing that until I learned how to give myself a break, how to speak to myself the way I would speak to anyone else. Now I try to follow one simple rule; to speak to myself the way I would speak to a friend. I practice this and it isn’t always easy, but it is important to me. It is important that those terrible words don’t enter my house or my head. They are not welcome here anymore.

I did all that soul searching and healing of old wounds because I knew in my heart that I could not heal from Matt’s death if I didn’t heal other things about myself first. I couldn’t be the person he would want me to be, or the mother that my daughter deserves, if I didn’t heal myself. So I put my grief on hold for a while and I dealt with me. It’s all just so much work! It’s hard to be a widow. It’s hard to be a mom. I need to be the person standing in my own corner, picking myself back up. I need to show myself the same kindness and compassion that I can no longer look to my husband for.

I want only the best for my daughter. I want to teach her that she can do anything. I want her to be confident enough in herself to be authentically her. To figure out what she really wants in this life and then to be courageous enough to go for it. I want her to dream big, knowing that big dreams take hard work and a lot of failure. I can’t teach her any of this if I am not living it. I can’t teach her to believe in herself if I don’t believe in myself. So I’m figuring it out.

I told this to a friend of mine recently and now I am reminding myself:

Sometimes surviving is a full time job. Sometimes it feels like you can’t handle as much as you think you should, because you forget to include all the things you are doing that you can’t put on a list or on your schedule. You are picking up the pieces and going a thousand miles an hour… and trying to be normal. But he died. This isn’t normal. Nothing about this is normal. You can’t be superwoman because this isn’t a comic book. Don’t try to be superwoman, she’s not real. Be you, you are real and you are wonderful. Don’t risk getting lost trying to be more than human. I prefer you when you are human.

I’m not the same person that I used to be. I am not yet where I want to be but I am working on it, and that is good enough for me because I am healing.

I Gave My Husband A Kidney Before He Died And It Changed My Life

Tomorrow marks an anniversary of sorts, one that I am heartbroken to celebrate alone, but proud to celebrate at all. Four years ago I donated a kidney to my husband. This is a milestone that I never anticipated celebrating without him, but this year, and every year after, I will be. Because my husband died 19 months ago.

Not many people are lucky enough to call themselves a living donor. Most organ donors will die before making their donation. My husband did. So I am among the few who have been so fortunate in this life. My husband was not fortunate when it came to his health. He was 31 when he was diagnosed with kidney failure. I met him when he was 32. The person that I always knew him to be was someone whose body didn’t work quite right. His body couldn’t function the way it was supposed to and it was very hard on him, both physically and psychologically. But after the transplant he was a new man. He was the same person, but it was as if he was just a little bit more cheerful, a little bit brighter, and a little bit happier. He felt good for the first time since I had known him. His body worked and he finally felt normal again. Just like everyone else.

I loved seeing my husband healthy. And I loved that I was able to be the one to give that to him. I gave him his health back. People talk about this transplant as though I saved his life. I didn’t. Dialysis saved his life. His doctors and the transplant team saved his life. I gave him health. I gave him two and a half years of health. Just long enough for him to give me a daughter, a daughter that I now raise alone. A daughter we would never have had if not for that transplant. She is the greatest gift he ever gave me. 

He died in a car accident on a Friday. I had asked him to pick up dinner that night. I had such a rough week at home with a cranky infant while he was away on a business trip. He was home and I wanted a break, so I asked him to pick up pizza. I didn’t know that this would be the last thing I would ever ask of him. His co-workers told me later that when he left work that night, he told them that he just wanted to get home and spend the weekend with his wife and daughter. We never got that weekend together. Had I known what was about to happen I never would have asked him to go. I will always wish that I never asked him to go. I will always wish that I had done anything else, anything that would have kept him home with me. Anything that would have kept him alive. I have battled with the guilt of this decision, and then I remember the transplant.

I have forgiven myself for this decision, the one that cost him his life. It wasn’t easy to do, but I know that had I known what was coming I would have done anything to change it. I would have done anything to keep him here with me. And I know that because I did do anything. I gave him a part of me that I can never get back. The transplant was successful and I gave him health. I am now more grateful than ever that I was able to do this for him. Even though I lost him after only two and a half years, the peace of mind that the transplant has given me in the wake of his death can never be overstated. There will never come a time when I will wish I hadn’t given him my kidney. If my remaining kidney were to fail tomorrow I would still be grateful.

When he was sick, I felt helpless to fix it. Then it came time for the transplant, and now I can say that I fixed it. The only thing that I could have done to make his life better was exactly what I did. So when I go into those moments of guilt about the night I lost him, I remember that if I could have fixed it, I would have… because I did.

It will be of no surprise that I believe strongly in the importance of organ donation. Organ donation gave my husband a second chance at life. It changed my life. It is the reason my daughter exists. My husband was a registered organ and tissue donor. Because of his health he was unable to donate his organs, but he could still change lives. Because of him, an 84 year old in Massachusetts and a 28 year old from overseas have both received the gift of sight. His skin has helped three burn victims in Maryland and Virginia. And his bones have been used to help over 4o others. Because of him, nearly 50 people have a better life.

None of this brings my husband back. But nothing will ever bring him back. So in the wake of his death, it is comforting to know that nearly 50 people who never knew my husband have been touched by him after his death. It helps to know that someone out there may be seeing their children for the first time, or hiking a mountain that they never could have hiked, or is simply reading a book… because of him. I lost my husband and he isn’t coming back. It helps to know that even though his life was cut short, there are people who are living better and fuller lives because of him. I am grateful for that. I am grateful to know that, even though those people may never know his name, his last act in this world was to make their lives better.

You may also like to know that I am still perfectly healthy. A healthy body functions just fine with one kidney. Today in the US, there are more people waiting for transplants than there are organs to be donated. An average of 22 people PER DAY will die waiting for an organ donor. There is a shortage of organ donors in the US, but there doesn’t have to be. There are many reasons why so many people have not chosen to register as an organ donor, but I will be honest in saying that I don’t understand. I am not a doctor, I don’t work for any foundation. I am just a wife who loves her husband, who knows what organ failure looks like, and who knows the value of a life saving transplant. I am just a widow who knows what it feels like to lose the love of my life. My heart breaks knowing that tomorrow there will be 22 more heartbroken families than there were today. My husband and my daughter are my everything. They are my life. And in my husband’s honor, today I ask you to become an organ donor and save a life. Someone like my husband will need your help after you die. Everyone dies, no one lives forever. When I die, I hope that they can take everything. That is what I asked them to do with my husband. I told them to take it all, I needed his death to give someone else life. I will do the same with my body and my daughter will learn the importance of doing the same. 

Donating my kidney is one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. That one act gave life to both my husband and my daughter. I will always be grateful for that.

 

Your Words to the Grieving Fell Flat – This is Why

I have been so touched by so many people who are grieving since I started sharing my writing. And in the last few weeks I have been touched by many people who have not shared this same type of deep grief but who know someone who has, or was simply touched by the reminder to be grateful. I am grateful for the stories, I am grateful to have touched the lives of people who need that connection.

There are no words that can encompass what it feels like to lose someone who plays a defining role in your life. My husband and I had plans. We were building our lives, we were growing our family. It didn’t make sense that he could die when we had so much left undone. The empty future it left me with, the blank pages of the story we were writing, I never knew exactly where life would take us, but I knew who I would be writing my story with. And then one day, the blank pages of that story we were writing burned, and I was left holding the ashes.

I always believed that life is what you make of it. We all make decisions, some good, some bad. They direct the path we walk on and they create our future. For good or bad, the life we live is the life we have chosen. But I didn’t choose this. How can my life have shattered in the middle of my story when I did nothing to create this mess?

I can give words to the emotions that I have felt through my struggles, but there are no words that will ever help a person to understand what it feels like when the thing that should never happen… happens. When your heart shatters and all you can do is watch the life you almost had burn to the ground. There are no words that can describe the pain that fills your heart and your body when all you have left is the memories. We treasure our memories, but we don’t live for our memories. So how do you live when what you were living for only lives in the past? There are no words that can describe this, because the pain doesn’t live in the body or the mind, and it doesn’t live in a time or place. The pain lives in every breath, in every memory, in every corner of every room, and in the this idea of the future itself.

I spent a lot of time feeling lost and alone. Alone because I lost my husband, and alone because it seemed no one understood. Everywhere I turned, it seemed that someone wanted me to patch up my wounds and put on a smile and tell them I’m doing alright, that it’s hard but I’m moving on. It seemed as though they wanted me to be this pillar of strength that I didn’t feel I could be. The truth is, I did often use lines that I knew people wanted to hear. I’d tell them I’m ok. I’d tell them about the parts of my day or my life that suited the picture they wanted me to paint and I’d get on with my day.

I don’t know why, but we live in a world where we don’t talk about pain or suffering. We don’t talk about our deep personal truths, the difficult ones. I think we have collectively forgotten how. We have forgotten to look outside of ourselves to acknowledge someone else’s pain. We want to get on with our day, get back to our lives, so we do our due diligence and ask, but we aren’t prepared to listen, and we aren’t prepared to feel their pain with them. Instead, we pass along tips, and talk about staying strong and moving forward.

Move forward. Move on. Don’t live in the past. Think about the future. Take in those words. Read them carefully, and then read them once more. Now throw them in the trash. Put them away forever. When a person is grieving the death of someone they love, it is the future that hurts so much. Moving forward is what paralyzes us. Holding onto the past is survival… for a while. It won’t always be like this. No one will stay paralyzed forever. These words, however, can make it feel more lonely. You have the best of intentions, but to one who is surviving a loss so deep, it can feel like you are telling that person to leave their loved one behind.

We grieve because we love. We experience pain that we can’t escape from. The pain doesn’t stop when we are strong, we just learn to endure it. It takes time. My grief is my love for my husband. I wouldn’t choose for this to hurt less if I could. I would choose this pain. He is worth this pain. His life has ended. My daughter, our daughter, and the lives we lead are his legacy. So I let it hurt. I make the choice to feel this pain completely, to let it cut me until I bleed.

It is hard to read those words. It is hard to be there for the grieving, to watch them do exactly that – bleed. But you can’t fix it. I know you would if you could. I know you would take their pain away if only there was a way. You can’t fix the un-fixable. There are some things you can never understand until you’ve walked the road yourself. It seems as though you could do more to help if you just understood, so you try. Stop trying. There is no need for that. So instead of telling them to be strong, let them bleed. There is no running away from the pain. Looking to the future is necessary and unavoidable, but it hurts so much and it’s scary. Let them know you are there through the fear. Sit with them. Be there for them. Strength comes in time, but not in your time. In theirs.

 

It will not always be like this, the bleeding will stop. So take out their trash, walk their dog, take the kids for a few hours here and there… and listen. Just listen. And if you are ever concerned that someone may be at risk, listen to that voice, not mine. I speak only from my personal experience. 

If you are concerned about the health or safety of yourself or someone else, please contact a medical or mental health professional.

 

 

 

 

 

Sex and Dating for Widows

As a widow I have learned many things, but none more important than the things I have learned about myself. I once lived as if I had all the time in the world to get it right. I was insecure in a thousand ways and I didn’t understand what it meant to be kind to myself, to go easy on myself, and to own who I am. I have a wonderful group of young widows, they are some of my dearest friends. Most of my ladies have children and are learning to do it all. We have recently started into the discussion of dating. Some of us are dating, some of us aren’t ready yet. But all of us have agreed that there is one thing no woman, widowed or not, should have to go without… Sex.

All of us have found ourselves in a precarious situation. We were all married (whether by formal title or otherwise) and we had all been quite happy to leave the dating world behind. None of us expected to find ourselves back here, but here we are. A group of widows talking about dating and sex. This is, by the way, a conversation that I would not have expected myself to talk about publicly. Despite my writings, I am a fairly private person. But this is important. So I am talking about it. We are all human, we were all married, and all of us love our husbands and wives more than I can express right here. But we also need to live, and to our collective dismay, this means dating.

I met my husband 8 years ago, which means it has been 8 years since I have dated a new person. I am not looking forward to starting this whole thing again. The last time I dated I was 23, single, and I was just looking for a good time. Now I’m 31 and raising a small child alone. Eventually, this will complicate the dating scene when I am looking for a serious connection with someone that I want to allow my child to meet. But right now, the complication is a pretty simple one – getting a night out!

A night out without my child is not as easy as it sounds. I need to find and secure a babysitter, then I need to pay the babysitter. Nights out are not cheap! And I have only one babysitter; and she has a job, other families she sits for, and a life of her own. This means when I go out, I make sure it is worth it! It is absolutely worth going out with my girls, we have a fabulous night each time. But now I’m thinking about dating again. Dating means taking the risk that the one rare night out this month may end up a complete dud, and the babysitter costs the same no matter how my night turns out. On top of that, I don’t actually know what I’m really looking for, or what the hell I’m doing! Do I want a relationship or just a good time? Am I ok with getting hurt if I put more on the line than I should have? Can I manage to keep my expectations reasonable? Am I looking for my husband in places that I won’t find him? And what about sex? I have been married since I last had sex with a new person. I donated a kidney and had a child. I have stretch marks and scars, and I am not as small and fit as I was the last time I was out dating. And, as if that weren’t enough, I have a small child and that alone narrows the market.

I don’t have any answers about this topic. (If you do please, for the love of all that is good in the world, please share them!) I am just starting to think about all of this. I imagine that dating is hard for any single parent, but for a young widow it seems like such a big and complicated part of life. And yet, that is what it is… part of life. It is part of learning to live again. Our loves want us to be happy, and yet it feels so lonely without the ones we 0nce married and loved and dedicated our lives to. Life is for the living, so I intend to live, and play, and have fun, and be happy. I won’t be happy without my husband. Instead, I will be happy with him in my life and in my heart. But he is not in my bed anymore, and I am just as human as anyone else. So after a year and a half, I think I am ready to go out and have some fun. If I am lucky, I will eventually find someone that I will introduce to my daughter. But in the meantime; I intend to be human, have fun, and start to live again.