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A place to learn, mingle, and share

This room is for those who have lost a spouse and need support or who can provide support to those who have.

Saint Paula is the patron saint of widows and Saint Stephen is the patron saint of deacons
Learn More: Saint Stephen and Saint Paula

Jun 8th 2014 new
Hello Bob,
A friend pointed me to your response here asking me to read it - and so I am sending you this message hoping that my own experience can provide some solace for the wounds you are suffering at this time in your life.
On our 11th aniversary in late December many years ago, I stood beside my wife in the hospital's oncology wing and looked into the face I'd loved for over 13 years. My 2year old and 6year old sons, and my 8year old daughter were with me at my side, confused and aprehensive, wondering if mom was coming home for Christmas so they could share their gifts with her....It was heart wrenching - I was in shock - even after 4 years of chemotherapy I couldn't believe it had come to this. Already in liver failure - her color was dark and yellowish, her breathing was approaching agonal stage, and she was a mear shadow of her former self.
Needless to say, life changed for me immediately and dramatically when she passed, as I had no conventional support system other than the Catholic school teachers with whom she taught and their resolve to 'soften' the impact by sending kids over to help with various things - baby sitting, grass mowing, bring food over...etc. All of which evaporated with the end of the school year
I went through much the same grieving cycle complete with emotional swings you mention and experienced the total loneliness - probably the most difficult part. My kids were normal in every way except - no mom now, and an 8 year old daughter is not quite able to even help with babysitting. Conversation was totally non-adult with my chidren - something I yearned for but could not find during those lonely evenings. My wife had been my confidant and filled me in on everything that happened with the kids during the day as she was with them so much more than I was. My role was to play with them and get them to activities (not much sports yet at this age) after school and when I was home from work and not working on a project.
Ive thought about this and how men are perhaps at a disadvantage to handle this kind of loneliness and emotional quagmire. most bread-winner dads really love our children but typically rely on our beloved spouse to handle 80-90% of the hands-on interaction with the kids while we go off to make the bacon. This was true in my case because my wife worked 6 hours a day in class and had summers off. She would often bring the kids to work if she had after-hour meetings or grading to complete, and would bring them to her classroom sometimes even while teaching. When I got home, I was ready to play - to her relief - but even then there were projects and family time was limited. So now that you have no spouse - you are the mom, the dad, the cook, the home educator, home athletic coordination etc etc etc. But you've been the 10-20% contributor and it is not an easy transition to becoming the 100% contributor. This all adds stress to the already big burden your heart is carrying around. I would say this extra duty alone was the limiting factor in my ability to socialize outside the walls of my home.

Here are some useful summary widowhood statistics from: www.widowshope.org
Death of a spouse is ranked as the #1 Stressor: Holmes and Rahe stress scale. and Widowhood increases survivors risk of dying. According to the American Public Health Journal
60% of those who lose a spouse or significant other will experience a serious illness in the 12 months following that loss
On average 75% of the survivors support base is lost following the loss of a spouse

So what happened next with the deck stacked against me? Well the passage of time mitigated this trial somewhat. Over the next 5 years my children matured and learned to help - I became closer to them (both silver linings-hooray there are some!) - I learned to do things more efficiently for example I would let the kids eat while I went for a run - and rely on others to help for example friends taking the kids while I went on a fishing trip. Essentially I became more of a mom in a practical sense - and learned to nurture a bit better as well.
Regarding the socialization side - specifically meeting a woman and dating - this was not easy and I found could not be planned or forced to work - much as my lizard engineering brain wanted it to be so. It was when I finally let the Holy Spirit guide me that I found my next soul-mate and new wife. I had no expectations then and it just happened and was right and she was accepting of me and my children as a 'package' deal. Keep in mind that women love kids so much that they will watch someone elses kids for a job (nanny).
A key aspect to all of this, Bob, is that God is at work and your wife is now by His side helping this action. You should let your boys know (and yourself too of course) that mom is indeed nearby and always able to listen to them and help them - just not physically. It doesn't mean they can't talk to her, in fact they can talk to her more often in their hearts.

"Where there is suffering there is grace". God will bless you abundantly for the suffering both she and you have undergone. Doors will open for you that you never dreamed possible. You will experience joys and of course sadness - that will move you do to things you would not have done in your past life. Believe me - this new life will not be dull - rather it will be rich with the blessings only those who pass through this kind of trial can obtain. For your part all you have to do is be ready to go through that door without hesitation. One thing you will not lack, if your experience is like mine - is the courage to change your life if you see a need to or a worthwhile opportunity. After all - when you've lost the love of your life - any other challenge pales by comparison. When you embrace these new opportunites your new life becomes an adventure and you will find yourself a better and stronger and more complete man - to the benefit of your family, your faith, your community.
God bless you Bob and may the Holy Spirit guide you to the peace your heart needs.*(novena to the Holy Spirit)
In Christ,
Jay
* "John-Paul & Annie - PrayMoreNovenas.com" <johnpaul@praymorenovenas.com>
Jun 12th 2014 new
Thank you all for sharing your stories and wisdom. Today would have been my 38th wedding anniversary. I feel fortunate to have gotten to celebrate 35
with my wonderful husband. Some of you did not have that many years.
I try to keep all the memories of good times in my mind. I had just retired from 34 years of teaching and did not really know how life was going to be.
I have just tried to accept that this is my life and to not complain. I am lonesome often but can find something to do. Discovering the forums is helping to use of some of the alone evening time. I enjoy reading through the replies.

Jun 12th 2014 new
Anne,
I am so sorry for your loss, sometimes it's so hard to figure what or why something so tragic happens in our lives. I've been battling cancer since '95 and was certain that I'd pass before my loving wife Roxie but that was not to be. She was diagnosed with sclc in June of 2012 and passed in February 2013. Talk about things falling apart, I still can't believe she's gone...everything happened so suddenly, maybe it was to spare her the grief of losing me...I don't know, but I do know that God has a plan for all of us and it's up to us to live life to the fullest and accept life as it comes at us. I just had my 4th. cancer surgery this march and it was really hard without the love and support of my wife, she was always there for me, but I'm learning as I'm sure that you will too, that we must put our lives back together and count all the blessings that our Lord has given us. I will keep you in my prayers,
Mike
Jun 22nd new
I'm so very sorry for your loss Bob and everyone else who is on the widow/er journey. It's a very heavy cross to bear......
Jun 22nd new
Thank you Mike. I'm sorry for your loss and your battle with cancer. I will pray for you as well.
Jun 30th new

Hi Anne

I have been a widow for some time now, and going on this site was a major decision for me. Part of me wants to share my life agian with someone, but there is still a part of me that feels a little guilty about this. I don't have any answers, but at least I am not alone it what I feel, I know that my late husband would want me to be happy, but do I hold back because I am afraid of the having to go through the possibility of dealing with the loss of a spouse again.

I know that it is possible to love another person, but it wouldn't be the same type of love that you had for your husband, not the same, just different and I guess that isn't a bad thing. So how do we address this feeling of am I doing the right thing, am I not honoring my late husband/?

Take care

Caroline

Jun 30th new
Caroline,
I will give you the gift my late husband gave me before he deployed. He insisted on having the what if talk as our last face to face talk. I wanted none of it. He had been in the AF 26 years and he was in what was supposed to be a safe job. I joked around about having Raul the Pool Boy--I don't have a pool and I do not know any Rauls. He took me in his arms and asked, "Linda, if you die first, would you want me to be happy again?" Well, yes, yes, I would. He then told me, "That is how much I love you." Four months later, he was gone. I am thankful for our 23 years, but I have a quiet confidence that a Chapter Two will one day come.
Jun 30th new
(quote) Bob-1062455 said: Hi Anne, I read your posts and was struck by how perfectly you summed up how I feel. My wife Candace died last summer after a brief but shocking illness. We had a wonderful marriage. I looked forward to being married to her for a long long time. But we didn't even reach our 13th anniversary! She died 2 days before my 40th birthday. I was a widower and a single father. We have 2 sons who were then 10 and 7! Since she died I have kept things together with lots of help from family and friends. But on the inside I am overwhelmed with loneliness, sadness, darkness, despair, anger, frustration, etc. I miss her terribly. And I hate the loneliness so much. I want to meet a nice girl but I know it's too soon. And meeting the right girl now that I am widowed and have 2 young sons is going to be difficult. And I doubt any girl will "get" me like my wife did. I miss her love for me and our boys. I feel trapped between my old life which I loved and miss and some new life that I can't even see right now. I don't even know how a girl would fit into my life and the boys'. And now we are heading into a series of awful anniversaries. The dates when tests revealed that things were worse and worse and worse than we feared. And finally...the unthinkable: 18 days in hospice before she died. How do I begin again?
Bob,

It does get better but it will take quite some time. Don't lose patience or hope about that.

I am now 5 years out from my wife's passing and my children and I are much closer having shared openly how we felt along the way. By being an example of openness for your children, they eventually find a voice to share their feelings and the family grows very close through this.

In the first year, we joined a support group for children where they are encouraged, among other kids their same age who lost a parent, to share their feelings while doing group activities. It helped my 11 year old son a lot to be a part of this. While the children met in one area, the parents were able to meet in a support group of their own. It was the only time I felt like talking to people because they knew what I was going through.

Time heals if you are in touch with your feelings and a support group takes away a great deal of loneliness and can show you the way back to happiness and identity.


Jul 1st new
Oh Dear Anne,

I am so sorry. But, know you are not alone. Change a few particulars around and I could have written that post. I am just over two years widowed and still trying to figure out what I am supposed to do next. . . I really don't like this place and would love to have some clear purpose for all of this. So, I have no advice but I can give big hugs.
Jul 1st new
Caroline,
I am sorry for your loss and understand totally the question you are asking yourself.
You will never "get over" the loss of your husband as you loved him very much. Part of meeting other people is figuring out how to "move on." That is figuring out a purpose and direction for life. A thought I have is that someone might enjoy my presence and what I have to give and enjoy spending time with me as I would enjoy spending time with him. No question that if my spouse was alive I would not be considering this...........the reality is he isn't. Jack would understand this as he was a widower and I was a widow when we met. He would want me to "move on."

Wishing you and all of us strength, peace and the presence of the holy spirit to guide us every day.
Bernie
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