It was a quiet Friday morning in September.
I got up early to get my 6-year-old daughter ready for school. My husband had lost his job a few months before, so I opted to make coffee at home instead of making my usual stop at our nearby McDonald's. I thought to myself, I'm just going to do my part. Frustrated by the previous months my husband and I had been experiencing, it was clear to me that some changes needed to be made as soon as possible. After grabbing a convenient to-go cup from the pantry, my daughter and I hurried out of our third floor apartment that morning. As we closed the door behind us, neither of us bothered to announce our departure.
We returned home later that evening around 5:30PM. I reached for my keys to unlock our apartment door. As the door opened I immediately saw my husband lying on the kitchen floor with his feet sticking out into the hallway. I was instantly overcome with panic. Is this the part when I call 911? Is this a set up? Go hide baby. I don't want you to see this!
A long 20 seconds passed as I scrambled for my phone to call 911. He's not breathing. I need help. Please come quickly... What do you mean do CPR?
I hysterically attempted CPR on the man I loved so dearly and despised just as often. I tasted strawberries on his breath. I watched as my air filled his lungs. I watched his blue face slightly change from white then back to blue. Is this working? The paramedics arrived, and I hung up the phone. I watched both of our lives fade away that evening.
Within weeks of grieving my husband, I soon discovered he was leading a very different life than what I had known.
His life was consumed by drugs, women, lies, and many secrets that were just too much to bear. Shortly after, I found myself with this new sense of freedom and urge to start over and start dating again.
I quickly learned that not much had changed in the dating scene, but it was much different dating as a widow than seven years ago. After months of having roller coaster emotions surrounding my husband's death and going on many failed dates, I'd like to shed some light into the world of widowhood by sharing what one can expect from dating a widow, and how to cope with earth-shattering grief while dating.
We Are Not Over It
I went to work that morning as a married woman and came home only to find that I had been widowed six hours prior. I loved this man. We had a daughter together who embodies all of the good things he was. Grief does not manifest itself when we tell it to. Grief does not turn off when we want it to either, but this also does not mean that we can't fall in love again. It does not mean that we will never marry again. It does not mean we can't return to normalcy, laugh till our stomachs hurt, or even take risks. It simply means we have experienced a loss that we will cope with forever. We are not over it, and you don't have the right to tell us that we should be one year from now, or ten years from now.
The Difference Between Dad & Husband
Although I pride myself on being honest with my daughter about the details surrounding my husband's death, her memories of him are not quite the same as mine, but I have vowed to preserve her truth by acknowledging the good things she has to say about him. We are mothers who have children that mourn and adore their fathers. Sometimes our schedules are no longer as flexible and our money isn't as available as it once was. We would be lying to say we don't crave your attention and want to be with you every single day, but adjusting to being a single mother is a whole new monster we have taken on. We lost a set of hands, eyes, income, and so much more. Don't be flaky. Everyone's time is valuable. Be mindful of the adjustments we have to make with our children.
We Aren't Interested In Pity
I remember having the "why are you single" conversation with someone. His eyes got wide as he slightly tilted his head, Oh your husband died? Oh man, I'm so sorry. We experience so many triggers day in and day out. There is never the right moment to tell someone that you are a widow. It is very awkward trying to comfort the person on the other end of the table who has just heard the news for the first time. We don't want your pity. If anything we simply want your understanding, and we appreciate seeing how you will handle this new information. Will you run for the hills? We hope not.
Sex Is Desired
This is probably the hardest thing to address as a widow. Isn't it too soon? I thought you "weren't over it". How can you feel connected to anyone this quickly? In many areas of our lives, we are allowed to have more than one. We can have more than one child, buy more than one house, and even have more than one job. When it comes to partners and especially after an untimely death, we are often shamed for entertaining the idea of dating, but especially sex. The truth is we want to have sex again. Fun, passionate, fulfilling sex.
Discovering the truth about my marriage changed the way I viewed companionship and motherhood. Losing my husband forced me to reevaluate all of my relationships but most importantly the relationship I had with myself. I am now ready to take on a new journey of love by educating those brave people who take on the challenge of dating a widow and empowering widows to pick up the pieces, start over, and love again.
- As Told To LadyLauraCo