4/18/19

spiritual comfort; part 1: questions

Parts 1 and 2 of Spiritual Comfort are excerpted from our book, Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? Revised and Expanded Edition (copyright 2008 from McCormick Press).

For some, bereavement is a time when religion provides great comfort and support.

For others, it can be a painful time in which you question your most cherished beliefs.

The impact of losing a spouse can cause some people to experience a crisis of faith. In the face of death, each of us struggles in his/her own way to find answers to profoundly difficult questions

You may question the fairness of the loss:

“We played by the rules. My partner was such a good, loving person – why did this have to happen to us?”

You may feel that death cheated you of many things: your spouse as your life partner, the dreams and plans you had for the future, the sharing of family experiences, etc.

It’s not uncommon to feel anger toward God for allowing the loss to happen.

While some people feel guilt about expressing it, others find relief by allowing themselves to vent this anger directly at God. Some may even shake their fists at the heavens, while others may turn away from their religion altogether.


In Part 2, we discuss ways to come to terms with these painful questions.

4/15/19

i'm not the typical partner: part 2

(Excerpted from Lost My Partner - What'll I Do? Revised and Expanded Edition)


In our last post, we discussed ways in which the loss of a non-traditional partner can differ from that of a traditional spouse.


Here are some suggestions for how to cope:

1)      Are any of your partner’s family more accepting of you? It can be a comfort to share your pain with those who were close to your partner. Reach out to approachable family members or friends.

2)      If you’ve been barred from attending the funeral, you might consider creating your own memorial gathering.

3)      Let those close to you know what you’re going through. Check for community support groups or online resources.

4)      Consult an attorney or contact your local bar association and the Social Security Administration about your legal rights and survivor benefits. While each state has different laws, some do make provisions for non-traditional partners. Even once divorced, if your marriage lasted 10 years or more, you may be entitled to your ex-spouse’s social security benefits. Don’t assume you have no rights – investigate!

Remember: it’s not important how others judge your relationship or your grief. What matters most is what your attachment meant to you and your partner. Recall what was special and cherish the bonds that brought you together. Respect your own needs and treat yourself kindly.

4/11/19

i'm not the typical partner: part 1



(This post is excerpted from Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do?, Revised and Expanded Edition)



Grief for the death of a long-term partner in a same-sex or opposite sex relationship is as deep and meaningful as the grief felt in the loss of a spouse. Even the death of an en-spouse can be a painful loss.

While you, the survivor, may experience the same grief reactions as traditional partners, there are different issues that affect your mourning process and may not be publicly acknowledged or supported, such as:

·    Whether your relationship was accepted or rejected by family members.

·     Access to your partner during the final illness or circumstances of the death and/or inclusion in funeral/memorial arrangements.

·    Legal and financial complications involving property ownership, child custody or survivor benefits.

·    Emotional unfinished business, especially any conflict as an aftermath of divorce or lack of access to your partner around the time of death.

·     Lack of traditional community support systems.

Any, or all of the above can prolong or complicate a normal mourning process.

In our next post, we offer some suggestions for coping.




4/8/19

staying connected with adult step-children; part 2


In our last post, we looked at some of the causes of tension between you and your adult step-children.

Here are some strategies for defusing that tension and improving communication.

1) Give everyone a psychological “time-out” from making any decisions. Postpone any discussions about who gets what for a few months and tell the family, “I’m just not ready to focus on such important questions yet.”

2) Look to other family members and friends for your emotional support. Your spouse/partner’s children may or may be there to lean on right away.

3) Don’t put your stepchildren in the middle of any unfinished business you have with your late spouse/partner or his or her ex. Vent your anger at the appropriate target, even if it means talking to a photo of your spouse/partner.

4) After a few months (trust your instincts about the timing), suggest a get-together. Assure your stepchildren that they remain important to you and you’d like to work out ways to maintain your connection.

5) Remember that when it comes it financial issues, conflicts can easily arise. Protect yourself by consulting with your own experts.

Keep in mind that if your prior relationship with a step-child was close, he or she will be anxious not to lose it. A strong foundation can help any relationship weather some temporary storms.

4/4/19

staying connected with adult step-children; part 1: understanding the issues


You’ve just lost your spouse/partner.

Now you may face more losses.

If your spouse/partner had adult children, how can you be certain those relationships won’t either slip away or be destroyed by conflict?

To better understand what is happening, keep in mind the following:

-Your step-children are grieving too. Their reactions will reflect their own relationships with their deceased parent. If there was conflict, there may be hidden guilt or remorse behind how they act.

-Your connection with your step-children depends on how you have been in their lives and what kind of relationship you shared. If there was any initial tension around the circumstances of your marriage, this can surface.

-Is your spouse’s ex alive? Your step-children may distance themselves from you. Keep in mind that what appears to be a shift in loyalties may just be a temporary reaction to the loss.

-Consider your connection prior to the death. Were you close to your step-children? What stresses did the circumstances prior to the death (prolonged illness, a sudden accident), put on the relationship?


Hopefully these questions can shed some light on what lies beneath any tensions or confusion you may have experienced with your stepchildren.

In our next post, we’ll offer some strategies for strengthening these important relationships during this difficult time.

4/1/19

widowhood way back when: widows on rooftops




An interesting architectural feature began in the days of sailing ships.

According to Wikipedia, a widow's walk (or roofwalk) is a railed rooftop platform often with a small enclosed cupola that was often found on 19th century North American houses.

A popular romantic myth holds that the platform was used to observe vessels at sea. The name comes from the wives of mariners who would watch for their spouses' return, often in vain as the ocean took the lives of the mariners, leaving the women as widows.

However, there is little or no evidence that widow's walks were intended or regularly used for this purpose.

Widow's walks are in fact a standard decorative feature of Italianate architecture, which was very popular during the height of the Age of Sail in many North American coastal communities. The widow's walk is a variation of the Italinate cupola . The Italianate cupola, also known as a "belvedere", was an important ornate finish to this style, although it was often high maintenance and prone to leaks.

Beyond their use as viewing platforms, they are frequently built around the chimney of the residence, thus creating an easy access route to the structure. This allows the residents of the home to pour sand down burning chimneys in the event of a chimney fire in the hope of preventing the house from burning down.

We wonder if those 19th century wives had deck chairs and sun block while they were up there.

3/28/19

reflections by deb edwards: what i know for sure about being a widow - one year later


Although it's been a few years, this early post from contributor Deb Edwards is still inspiring :

Tomorrow will be one year since Dale died. It seems impossible to me. I had a tree planted and a memorial plaque in his memory that finally were installed yesterday at a local plaza in the town where I live.

In preparation for this important anniversary, I "circled the wagons" I am having a small private dedication with my closest friends, followed by dinner. My granddaughters are coming for a sleepover so I won't have to be alone. With all my planning, I will still be glad when it is over.

Now that the day has arrived, Deb shares her reflections:


What I Know For Sure About Being a Widow.....One Year Later

Today is one year since my husband died. This has been quite a journey, with some very unexpected twists and turns.

My writing and the positive feedback I have received as a result has helped me so much with my own healing:

don't waste your energy trying to understand the reasons "why?"-they will never make sense

children and animals can offer a tremendous source of comfort, wisdom and insight in its purest and simplest form

everything and anything seems 10x worse at 2:00am

"alone" does not have to be synonymous with "lonely"

the cereal aisle still makes me cry.........but not as often

just when you think it never will, it does get easier-some days

look for ways in your life to "give back". paying it forward can be unbelievably rewarding-helping someone else can redirect your focus and lessen the pain

the moments that you feel "better" will turn into hours, then days, then weeks and then... there you are crying again

your "alone" time can be a real opportunity to reinvent yourself if you can embrace the possibilities

indulge yourself in extreme "self-care"-whatever works for you-a massage, a walk, a hot bath, brownies (i am a firm believer in the healing power of chocolate!)-anything that makes you feel good

getting through all the "firsts" seems impossible, but you somehow get through it-I hope the "seconds" won't be so tough. planning ahead helps.

don't be afraid to ask for what you need or want-you may be pleasantly surpised at what you get

when you feel like you can't go on, just put one foot in front of the other and eventually you will get to where you want to be

it can be very scary to step outside your comfort zone and try new things-but if you don't try you could miss out on something wonderful

forgive, forgive, forgive....the one you lost, God, the doctors, but most of all yourself

grief is a complicated process so if you think you're over it-you're not and if you haven't experienced it-trust me-you will

endings can also be wonderful beginnings-keep your mind and heart open and don't quit 5 minutes before the miracle

and as always..... remember to breathe


deb edwards

3/25/19

reflections by e. raymond rock: now that she's gone


Excerpted from thegriefblog.com, here’s a man’s perspective on losing his wife.

Now That She's Gone

You’ve been with her for many years. You have shared the ups and downs, the tragedies and the triumphs. You became used to each other and shared your dreams, the dreams you both had, with bright eyes and wondrous anticipation when you were young. . . . And then one day, she was gone.

Just that fast, she was gone. You didn’t have a chance to say goodbye, or tell her what she meant to you, or ask her what you will do without her. She was just . . . gone.

You walk through the house and find her here and there, the lamp you both argued about, but she let you win; her favorite, cracked cup that she glued back together so carefully; little things, a million memories, and you wonder how you will go on.

It’s too quiet now. No one there to say, “Hi Babe; how was your day?” Just the mocking silence. Why is the pain so unbearable? What is it with life anyway? Does it all come down to this; this crushing loneliness? Will there ever be another? No, there couldn’t be, not like that one. You could never let yourself fall so deeply in love again, it’s too painful.

The days go by, and the memories fade, and you find that you are changing. You will never be what you once were. The youthful exuberance and the never ending optimism has been replaced by a deep sadness, a melancholy wisdom, and you find yourself slowing down a little; nowhere important to go now, now that the one you lived for is gone. You find yourself going through the motions.

And one day you think about her less often, but when you do, you still wonder if you could have made her happier, if you could have sacrificed a little more or paid more attention to her little dreams, instead of just what you wanted. But then you remember -she never asked for that much, just to be with you.

You’re moving on now; you can’t live in the past. The world does not stop spinning. You know that she is okay, wherever she is; she always had a way of making the best of things. But you’re not okay, not really — maybe someday, but not today.

And you sit with the loneliness, and the pain; and you don’t escape from it this time. You don’t escape into a therapy of some kind, or a self-help book. No, you sit with it, and it takes every bit or courage that you have, and you feel defeated.

There is no more hatred toward others, no more criticism. There is no energy for that. They will feel this same pain someday, and therefore how could you not feel connected to them? There is no longer any self-righteousness, because you no longer know anything about life for certain, all of your certainties died with her. Now you are experiencing life, raw life, just as it is, without hiding from it, or theorizing about it, and somewhere deep inside, mixed in with all the pain and the hurt, there is a murmur, just a whisper of something else.

And you sit at night, alone in your meditation; your breath going in and going out, your memories and the pain going in and going out. The moonlight drifts through your window, your only friend now, and after awhile, it’s okay. It’s quiet now. If you listen carefully you can almost hear her breathing next to you, and you continue sitting in your meditation. And you hold your broken heart in your hands . . . and you ask why.

No answers come, just the in breath, and the out breath, and the cycles of life where everything changes, and where we suffer so much.

And that is enough for now. And you sit with it. And you wait . . .

E. Raymond Rock

3/21/19

reflections by deb edwards: filling the "hole"

Back in '09, Contributor Deb Edwards shared her reflections in this insightful post.

Filling the “Hole”

Anyone who has lost their partner knows what I am referring to in some way. It is how you feel when you are the only one in the room that is not half of a couple, It is the way you feel at the end of the day when you are alone. It is the way you feel the first time you fill out a form and circle the “W” instead of the “M”. It is the way you feel when you realize they are never coming back.

Since my husband died a little over a year ago, I have felt a physical and emotional “hole” where he used to be. It is bigger on some days and smaller on others, but it never goes away completely.

I have known people that have used the “hole” to engage in self-destructive behaviors. Eating too much, drinking too much, self-medicating, spending too much, but at the end of the day, the “hole” is still there. I tried to fill the “hole” with cookies, but trust me - it didn’t help. The “hole” was still there - and I had a stomach ache!

So what do you do? You do the best you can to fill the “hole”. Meet new people, find new interests, and develop a good support system. Re-invent yourself - take risks-step outside your comfort zone. I am fortunate to have a job that I love, I spend time with my grandkids, I rescued a cat and I have been doing volunteer work. Don’t hesitate to get professional help if you feel like you have fallen in the “hole” and get can’t pull yourself out.

The “hole” is a normal part of the grieving process and nothing can ever replace the one you lost. It is ever-present, but what I have learned during the past year is that it is how you fill the “hole” that is important. You have a choice every hour of every day on how you want to live your life. So choose well, but don’t beat yourself up. We are human, and some days we do better than others.

And as always - breathe!
Deb Edwards

3/18/19

reflections by woodrow irvin: some comments for the clueless to consider

Contributor Woodrow (Woody) sent the following eloquent comments about Condolences from the Clueless. We want to devote a  "reflections" post to his response.

Woody wrote:  

I would like to give you some of the "remarks" that were said to me before and after I lost  Joey, my partner of 11 years in January of this year due to complications from diabetes. Some days I still remember the comments and start to get bitter and angry

Comments made while Joey was in the hospital:

1) His aunt said to me: "If he doesn't make it, are you going to go back home?" [Georgia , where I was born]. I was so shocked and dumbfounded that ANYONE would say that at a time of intense stress that I was speechless.

2) His uncle said to me: "Couldn't you have gotten him down here sooner?" That upset me big time because when someone has an infection, sometimes you don't see the symptoms until much later. Don't add to my pain and stress by saying something insensitive like that!

Comments made after Joey passed away:

1) "He's in a better place and not suffering." This is the most common response I got and I know people probably mean well but the fact is it hurts to hear this because I of all people know that he is in a better place and not suffering, etc. I was with him 24/7, and I saw things no one else saw. I saw the suffering, etc. Hearing this doesn't help me because I DON'T HAVE HIM WITH ME ANY MORE.

2). "I understand how you feel!" - No you don't understand how I feel. You can sympathize but you have no idea what I'm going through, the loss and the hurt and the bitterness. Unless you have lost a partner/husband/wife, you can't understand the feelings that are so intense and painful and debilitating.

3) The evening of his passing this same aunt and uncle started to ask 20 questions like when is the service, are you going to take his ashes and sprinkle them at Disneyland, etc. that finally I said “I can't talk any more”, and hung up. I was crying and grieving. Don't ask so may questions so soon after a loss !!! Keep it brief, offer your sympathy and then say good-bye. Later, at a more appropriate time, the questions can hopefully be answered.

Joey was the type to tell me not to let people and their remarks get to me. He always said you are better than that and to let it go. Don't let it get you down and destroy you. I will always love him for saying that and THAT is what keeps me going.

Hopefully someone may read about my experiences and learn from them. I agree, most people mean well but some don't realize what they say can make the pain worse and that's the last thing we need.

Woody

3/14/19

reflections: irish words of wisdom


* May you have the hindsight to know where you've been, the foresight to know where you're going and the insight to know when you're going too far.


* May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all the way to your door.


* A friend's eye is a good mirror.


*Even a small thorn causes festering.


* When a twig grows hard it is difficult to twist it. Every beginning is weak.


* As you slide down the banisters of life may the splinters never point the wrong way.


* May your troubles be as few and as far apart as my Grandmothers teeth.

3/11/19

reflections from lost my partner: even more words of wisdom

Here are more sayings from our book, Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do?

1) For now, it’s okay to ask for help from others. Nobody’s strong all the time. Even Superman can be weakened by Krytonite.

2) Confusion and memory loss are normal and temporary symptoms.

3) The first year is full of first everythings.

4) Any new situation will start out being uncomfortable the first time. The next time is always easier.

5) Bereavement is a learning experience about you. You’ll discover new capabilities and strengths you didn’t realize you had.

reflections from lost my partner: 5 words of wisdom



Here are some collected "words of wisdom" excerpted from our book, Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? Revised and Expanded Edition (learn more).

These gentle reassurances can be printed out and carried with you for those moments when you need a little boost of support.

- It does get better. The pain will soften with time.

- Every tear helps. The best way to get through mourning is to do the grieving.

- You will mourn in your own way and in your own time.- For now, not normal is normal.

- Most of your whole world has been turned upside down. Be gentle with yourself.

3/7/19

reflections by deb edwards: what i know for sure about being a widow




While in the process of setting up this blog, we were contacted by Deb Edwards, a visitor to our lostmypartner.com website. We recently heard from Deb and were inspired to again share some of her original posts.

In 2009 she emailed: "I lost my husband last year, and have done some writing about it. I would like to share my experiences with other people who have had similar losses, in hopes that I could reach out to them and touch them in some way that would help them through their journey." Thanks, Deb, for sharing the following :


What I Know for Sure About Being a Widow

I hate the sound of the word "widow" so much I can barely say it out loud

When I think I can't cry anymore...I do

Grief is something you can't get around...you have to go through it

That "hole" will never be completely filled

You find consolation in very unexpected ways

The car and the shower are good crying places

No one gets to tell you how to feel...whatever you feel is OK

You never know what could trigger the grief...it could be something as obvious as the holidays or as random as the cereal aisle

You get to feel the way you feel until you don't feel that way anymore

Anyone who says "I know how you feel"...doesn't

You do find laughter amidst the tears

People say it gets easier - don't know - I'm not there yet

Having "no regrets" will help you find peace in your heart

They are always with us...but never in the same way

Life does go on...but never the same way.

Take care of yourself...and remember to breathe.


Deb Edwards

3/4/19

am i ready for dating? part 3: easing into dating

In Part 2 of our excerpts from Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? we looked at the changes in dating customs that may have occurred since you were last single.


Okay, now you’re ready to start easing your way into the social life of a single person. How exactly should you go about it?

Your attitude in approaching this step is important.

Try to think in terms of a shopping experience.

You’ll want to “try on” the different ways and places to meet someone until you find a good “fit”. In the process, you’ll get a chance to learn what doesn’t fit or appeal to you.

With that concept in mind:

- If you’re comfortable with it, let friends and family know you’re ready to meet new people.

- Find a friend who’s currently single. Ask this friend for advice about the latest rules and customs. But remember: no matter how well-intentioned advice can be, you always need to adapt it to what feels right for you.

- Check out social activities geared for singles at your place of worship.

- Check local papers or online for schedules of special-interest activities for singles. Many feel more relaxed when there’s an activity such as hiking, films, gourmet cooking, concerts, etc., to focus on rather than just “meeting someone”. If you’re over fifty-five, consider joining Elderhostel, an organization that combines travel with learning in a way that’s comfortable for people on their own.

- Bring a friend along the first time you try anything new. It’s a good idea to discuss before you go what each of you will do in the event one of you becomes uneasy, wants to leave early, or meets someone.

Taking the Plunge

Trust yourself to know when it’s time to start dating.

That doesn’t mean you won’t be anxious or uncertain. Some anxiety on any date is natural and, in your situation, expected. Don’t try to bluff it out. What often helps is to let the other person know that you’re new at this.

One of the most important things to remember in starting any new relationship is that a new person is a new learning experience. You probably had years to get to know your spouse/partner and adjust to the ways you reacted to each other. A new person can’t be expected to react in the same ways as your spouse/partner did. It takes time to know each other.

A WORD OF WARNING: Sometimes people jump into dating to erase the pain they’re feeling. They hope the excitement of a new relationship will make the pain go away. Dating for that reason can backfire. You aren’t being fair to a new relationship when you haven’t taken enough time to emotionally finish with the old one. Please take the necessary time to go through the mourning process before you start dating.

Please share your thoughts about these posts with us.

3/3/19

WE'RE CELEBRATING THE LOST MY PARTNER BLOG'S 
10th BIRTHDAY!

Join us as we mark a decade (!) of offering support and sharing the struggles and personal triumphs of those of you surviving the death of a partner.

All month, we'll post our own favorite "Words of Wisdom" as well as the personal insights that visitors have shared with us.

We continue to be touched by and appreciative of your ongoing interest in and support for this blog and our book, Lost My Partner.

So thank you, friends. And please stay in touch!

Our warmest best wishes to you all,

Ruth and Laurie

2/28/19

am i ready for dating? part 2: what's different now




In Part 1 of these 3 excerpts from Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? we discussed your emotional readiness to begin dating.

How old were you when you last dated?

What were the dating rules and customs at that time?

Many people report that when they first re-enter the singles’ world, they feel like Rip Van Winkle – on the inside it’s as though they were still the age they were when last single. On the outside, though, the world has changed.

Some of the biggest changes you’ll probably discover include:

a) Women making the first move. It’s not uncommon now for a woman to initiate a phone call or email to invite a man to a movie or a sports/cultural event.

b) Sexual conduct. Even in this time of increased caution, many people engage in sex sooner than they once did.

A WORD OF WARNING: Don’t believe that just because you’re a certain age, you’re safe from sexually transmitted diseases. For example, according to Centers for Disease Control, over 50% of newly reported case of AIDS in 2005 were in people (heterosexual as well as homosexual), over age 40. It’s wise to play it safe. Check with your doctor about safe sex practices.

c) Women paying for themselves. In some cases, a woman may view paying her own way as freeing her from any obligation to the man. Or it might just be a case of economics. If both people live on fixed incomes, it’s more thrifty to share the expense of a night out.

Regardless of what others are doing, you are the best judge of what is right for you. Keep in mind, however, that if you were a teenager when you last dated, you probably followed your parents’ guidelines about what was permissible. Now that you’re an adult, you’re able to make choices about what’s right for you.

In Part 3, we’ll move into strategies for easing into dating.

2/25/19

am i ready for dating? part1: ready or not?

The following 3 posts are excerpted from our book, Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? Revised and Expanded Edition.


You may not want to even consider the idea of new relationships.

You may be ready to think about the possibility of new relationships.

You may be at a point where you are ready to try new relationships.

One of the final stages of the mourning process is where you begin to seriously consider the possibility of new attachments. This may mean creating friendships with members of the same sex or opposite sex. Or it might indicate a wish to explore a romantic and/or sexual relationship.

This doesn’t mean you want to forget your spouse/partner, but rather it reflects a growing readiness for the companionship and intimacy you once shared with someone.

Friends and family will often drop hints or make suggestions about “fixing you up” or going to singles’ activities. It’s important not to let others pressure you. Trust your own feelings and sense of when the time is right.

Even if you don’t feel ready to test the waters of the singles’ scene, don’t be surprised if at first you find yourself experiencing some of the following:

a) GUILT. It’s not uncommon to feel survivor guilt as you reach this stage. Because you want to begin enjoying life once again, it may feel as though you’re being disloyal and/or leaving behind your deceased spouse/partner. If feelings of guilt persist, they could be a sign that you have more grieving to do.

b) ANGER. You may find yourself angry at your spouse/partner: “If you hadn’t died, I wouldn’t have to go through this.”

c) ANXIETY. Of course you’re anxious! After all, when was the last time you were single?

In Part 2, we’ll look at how dating rules and customs have probably changed since you were last single.

2/21/19

widowhood way back when: presidents who were widowers; part 2



In Part 1, we listed the U.S. Presidents who were widowers.

The following widowed presidents went on to remarry while in office:


John Tyler (1841 – 1845)
After his wife Letitia became the first First Lady to die in the White House, Tyler met and married Juliana Gardiner in 1844.

According to excerpted information about the presidents and first ladies from http://www.whitehouse.gov/, late in 1842 the Gardiner [family] went to Washington for the winter social season, and Julia became the undisputed darling of the capital. Her beauty and her practiced charm attracted the most eminent men in the city, among them President Tyler, a widower since September.

Tragedy brought his courtship poignant success the next winter. Julia, her sister Margaret, and her father joined a Presidential excursion on the new steam frigate Princeton; and David Gardiner lost his life in the explosion of a huge naval gun. Tyler comforted Julia in her grief and won her consent to a secret engagement.

The first President to marry in office took his vows in New York on June 26, 1844. The news was then broken to the American people, who greeted it with keen interest, much publicity, and some criticism about the couple's difference in age: 30 years.

As young Mrs. Tyler said herself, she "reigned" as First Lady for the last eight months of her husband's term.

The Tylers' happiness was unshaken when they retired to their home at Sherwood Forest in Virginia. There Julia bore five of her seven children; and she acted as mistress of the plantation until the Civil War. As such, she defended both states' rights and the institution of slavery. She championed the political views of her husband, who remained for her "the President" until the end of his life.
His death in 1862 came as a severe blow to her. In a poem composed for his sixty-second birthday she had assured him that "what e'er changes time may bring, I'll love thee as thou art!"



Woodrow Wilson (1913 – 1921)
Following the death of his first wife, Ellen, in 1914, Wilson met Edith Bolling Galt.

This excerpt from http://www.whitehouse.gov/ follows: By a quirk of fate and a chain of friendships, Mrs. Galt met the bereaved President, still mourning profoundly for his first wife. A man who depended on feminine companionship, the lonely Wilson took an instant liking to Mrs. Galt, charming and intelligent and unusually pretty. Admiration changed swiftly to love. In proposing to her, he made the poignant statement that "in this place time is not measured by weeks, or months, or years, but by deep human experiences..."

They were married privately on December 18, 1915, at her home; and after they returned from a brief honeymoon in Virginia, their happiness made a vivid impression on their friends and White House staff.

Though the new First Lady had sound qualifications for the role of hostess, the social aspect of the administration was overshadowed by the war in Europe and abandoned after the United States entered the conflict in 1917. Edith Wilson submerged her own life in her husband's, trying to keep him fit under tremendous strain.

His health failed in September 1919; a stroke left him partly paralyzed. His constant attendant, Mrs. Wilson took over many routine duties and details of government. But she did not initiate programs or make major decisions, and she did not try to control the executive branch. She selected matters for her husband's attention and let everything else go to the heads of departments or remain in abeyance. Her "stewardship," she called this. And in My Memoir, published in 1939, she stated emphatically that her husband's doctors had urged this course upon her.

In 1921, the Wilsons retired to a comfortable home in Washington, where he died three years later. A highly respected figure in the society of the capital, Mrs. Wilson lived on to ride in President Kennedy's inaugural parade. She died later in 1961: on December 28, the anniversary of her famous husband's birth.


Read complete article.

2/18/19

widowhood way back when: presidents who were widowers; part 1


In honor of President's Day, we’re doing a 2 part series about United States presidents who were widowers, either before or after entering the White House.


Presidents who were widowed prior to their election include:Thomas Jefferson (1801 – 1809)
- Jefferson’s wife Martha died following childbirth in 1781.

Andrew Jackson (1829 – 1837)
- Jackson’s wife Rachel died in 1829, just prior to Jackson’s inauguration.

Martin Van Buren (1837 – 1841)
- Van Buren’s wife Hannah died of tuberculosis in 1819.

Chester A. Arthur (1881 – 1885)
- Arthur’s wife Ellen died of pneumonia in 1880.


Presidents whose early days in office were shadowed by the loss of their spouses include:

John Tyler (1841 – 1845)
- A reclusive invalid, Letitia Tyler became, in 1842, the first presidential wife to die in the White House.

Woodrow Wilson (1913 – 1921)
- His wife Ellen died in 1914 of Bright’s disease.

Learn about which presidents remarried in part 2 .

2/14/19

valentine’s day quotes to send to family and friends

This Valentine's Day, embrace all the people in your life for whom you feel affection.  Send a card (like when you were a kid), and/or get together (even if it's just for coffee) to give a new meaning to the day.

Here are some sample quotes to add to emails or cards:

"I get by with a little help from my friends."
- John Lennon

"Do not protect yourself by a fence, but rather by your friends."
- Czech Proverb

"My friends are my estate."
- Emily Dickinson

"It's the friends you can call up at 4am that matter."
- Marlene Dietrich

"A friend is a gift you give yourself."
- Robert Louis Stevenson

“In time of test, family is best.”
- Burmese Proverb

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.”
- Anthony Brandt

Have any quotes of your own to share? Let us know.

2/11/19

how to beat the valentine's blues if you're widowed

It’s all around you: painful reminders that you don’t have that “someone special” with whom to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Although your spouse/partner isn’t here to share the day, consider expanding your definition of what the word “love” really means.

This year, remind yourself that “love” isn’t just limited by the type of relationship you shared with your spouse/partner. By widening your scope a bit, you can embrace all the other relationships in your life where you give and receive affection. This can mean including relationships such as family members and good friends.

Use the Valentine’s holiday to show your appreciation of these other important personal relationships in some of the following ways:


  1. Schedule an outing or meal such as lunch or dinner to get together with a good friend or family member.
  2. Remember when you were a kid and gave valentines to friends and classmates? Revive this childhood custom with relatives and friends.
  3. Show yourself some appreciation. Think back and list on a valentine card at least two things you’ve achieved since your spouse’s death that you used to think weren’t possible. It’s important to give yourself credit for the progress you’ve made.
  4. Treat yourself to some pampering (a manicure or massage), or buy yourself a gift (hobby items or clothes or yes, a box of chocolates).
Remember that your marriage was just one of several caring relationships in your life. This year, begin a new tradition by celebrating all of them.


2/7/19

explore the new world of single friends: part 2


In Part 1, we looked at one of the unfortunate consequences of losing your spouse/partner: losing some couple friends.

The best way to counteract the pain of these losses is to reach out and create new friendships with others who are single.

Although you may be initially uneasy with the idea, try the following:

a) Contact single friends you already know and get together for coffee, a movie or other activity.

b) Consider joining a group that reflects your interests or hobbies. Check with your place of worship, local Chamber of Commerce or neighborhood hobby supply stores for groups or clubs in your area. In addition to offering opportunities for potential friendships, groups can help you feel less isolated.

c) Unlike couples, who are constrained by the needs and schedule of a partner, single friends are often available and eager to join you in activities.

d) Depending on your age, you’ll probably find you have more in common with others who have been widowed.

Give yourself time but keep in mind that finding new friends with similar interests can create lasting and supportive friendships.

2/4/19

explore the new world of single friends: part 1


While you and your late spouse/partner may have enjoyed friendships with other couples, the situation usually changes once you are widowed.

Making the shift from being part of a couple to being single can be difficult. While you may choose to continue with the comfort of couple friends, you’ll probably find some of these relationships fading away.

The loss of established friendships means yet more losses to deal with at a time when you’re already bereft. It’s normal to feel hurt, abandoned, rejected, angry or all of the above.

In Part 2, we’ll offer tips on how to cope with this situation.

1/28/19

condolences from the clueless




Unfortunately, it’s an all too familiar situation when your spouse/partner has died and a relative, friend or acquaintance appears, phones or emails you.

In their well-meaning way, this person offers what they consider to be heartfelt and comforting words of condolence.

Unfortunately, these remarks come across to you as being incredibly insensitive, presumptuous or just plain clueless.

Here are some classics from our collection:

“It’s all for the best.”

“Well, at least he/she lived a good/long life.”

“I know exactly how you feel.”

“He/she wouldn’t want you to be sad. You have to try and be strong for him/her/the children/your in-laws/the family dog.”

“ Aren’t you over it yet?”

“Don’t worry – you’ll find someone else.”

“I went through the same thing during my divorce.”

Any of these sound familiar? For more a more extensive list of clueless condolences, check out WidowNet.org. It's a site with other helpful information for widowed men and women.

Got more remarks that have left you seething? Just click onto “Comments” and let’s hear ‘em!

1/24/19

widowed is not the same as being divorced



Ever had a divorced person say to you, “I know just how you feel. When my marriage broke up, it felt just like a death had happened.”?

Although usually well-meaning, these sorts of remarks can really tick you off!

The assumption that surviving divorce and death present similar traumas is certainly understandable. The “death” of a marriage can bring about intense emotional pain and grief. Indeed, a mourning process usually occurs in many divorces in which each partner grieves for a multitude of losses, from emotional to financial.

However, what some people have trouble understanding is the fact that while divorce, however painful, is basically a choice, death is not.

In a divorce situation, you may wish your ex-spouse was no longer around, but he or she is, in reality, somewhere out there. Still alive.

Death, as we say, is final.

1/21/19

when will this be over? part 3: i can't imagine being on my own



In Part 2 of these excerpts from our book Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do?, we discussed ways to know when your period of mourning is over.

“Will I ever get used to being on my own?”

Try to remember the time before you had a partner.

Think about what you were like and how it felt to do things on your own.

Now ask yourself:

1) What dreams and ambitions were set aside because of marriage and its responsibilities?

2) Did you used to adapt to changes more easily?

Now that you have the wisdom and experience you lacked at an earlier age, can you see how your abilities have grown and developed with time?


Please share your thoughts with us.

1/17/19

when will this be over? part 2: when will my mourning end?



In Part 1 of these excerpts from our book Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do?, we looked what influences the length of your mourning period.

“When will this be over?”

We can’t stress enough the importance of listening to yourself. If you don’t try to rush the process or let others pressure you into “snapping out of it”, you’ll know when the period of acute mourning is over. Most people tell us they know they’ve reached the end of the mourning period when they are:

· No longer preoccupied with their loss. This doesn’t mean they no longer think about or miss their spouse/partner, only that they’ve found a place inside themselves for that loved one.

· Ready to begin making new attachments in their lives. This doesn’t necessarily mean dating or finding a new partner, but rather feeling like they can risk closeness to other people again.

· On the way to creating a new sense of who they are. You used to be the other half of a couple, and now you aren’t. When you marry, you blend yourself into who your spouse/partner is, in order to become a couple. The length of your marriage and the age at which you married will affect the extent to which your sense of identity is based on being part of that couple.

In Part 3, we look at some important questions to ask yourself .

1/14/19

when will this be over? part 1: how long will i be in mourning?





(Excerpted from our book, Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? Revised and Expanded Edition).

The mourning process is often described as feeling as though you’re stuck on a roller-coaster.

Nobody chooses this ride, but once it starts, you have to hold on tight and trust you’ll eventually be back on solid ground. The first few dips can be unsettling, and just when the track straightens out and you think you can finally relax, there may be a few more dips before you get to the finish.

The hopeful news is, if you don’t try to jump out before the ride ends, and if you have someone (or a group) beside you for support, the dips will come less frequently, and you’ll recover more quickly.

“How long will this ride take?”

In most cultures of the world, the period of mourning is traditionally one year, however, the answer is different for everyone.

How long yours lasts depends on:

1) Whether your spouse/partner’s death was sudden or expected and the circumstances of his/her death. An expected death generally gives you time to do some anticipatory grieving. A death caused by sudden and/or unusual circumstances will take longer to mourn, because there was no chance to prepare for the loss.

2) The emotional climate of your relationship with your spouse/partner. Troubled marriages tend to take longer to mourn.

3) How you’ve mourned previous losses in your life.

4) The ways you’ve observed family members mourn, which gave you (rightly or wrongly) a model of how to grieve. Was it important to appear “strong” and unemotional?

5) Whether you’ve lost anyone else recently. You may feel overwhelmed by “still another loss.

In part 2, we’ll offer ways to know when your mourning period is winding down.

1/10/19

is your pet also grieving?






If you have a pet(s), you may have noticed changes in their behavior since your spouse/partner has died.

We came across the following post by on the Animal Friends site and found it interesting.

According to When Pets Grieve, "We all find it hard to say goodbye. Our pets are just like us in many ways. Many of us can clearly understand their moods and emotions by the way they look at us or the way they wag their tail.

Our pets display emotions every day, but do they experience a complex emotion like grief? Grief is a reaction to the sudden absence of something or someone who brought comfort and satisfaction—and many pet owners will attest that their pets grieve when they lose a loved one."

It continues, "Research now confirms that our pets experience symptoms of grief when they lose a beloved human or animal companion. Grief has even been observed in wild species. Elephants have been seen caressing the body of a deceased companion. There are published reports of pets who constantly search for a deceased loved one and animals who no longer want to play or eat when a companion dies."

The author goes on, "Many grieving dogs often act as if they’re searching for something. They become restless or lethargic, lose their appetite, have accidents in the house, cry and don’t want to play. Dogs are certainly not alone; many cat and rabbit owners report similar experiences with their grieving pets."

The author suggests, "Just as you’d comfort a grieving friend, you can help your pet cope with grief. First and foremost, keep your pet’s routine as normal as possible. This may be difficult if a pet’s primary caregiver has passed away, but it is essential to maintain as normal a routine as possible. Second, don’t reinforce any behavioral changes. If your pet stops eating, don’t change the food, and don’t increase the amount of attention you give your pet. It may lead to new problems, like separation anxiety."

And goes on to advise, "If you find that nothing helps your pet, speak with your veterinarian. Your vet can help you decide whether prescription medicine will be effective to help calm and relax your pet."

The post later concludes, "Both humans and animals find it hard to say goodbye, but with love and understanding, we can work to help our animal friends cope with loss."


What are your thoughts?

1/7/19

a new year; what's ahead for you?



The holidays are finally over.




Congratulate yourself on having survived.



As you look ahead to the coming year, what do you feel? Dread, anticipation or a combination of both?

Depending upon how recently your loss occurred, you may experience dread if:

1) This will be a year of firsts, i.e., first birthday, wedding anniversary, and/or other special occasions since the loss.

2) You are wondering where to turn for support.

3) You ask yourself, “How can I put my life back together now that my partner is gone?”

If some time has passed since the loss, you may be facing the future with anticipation as you:

- Think about ways to enlarge your circle of friends, (you may have lost some, especially couple friends, now that you are widowed).

- Re-define how you see yourself. What strengths have you gained and in what ways are you more confident?

- Consider trying new activities, which are good ways to gain both of the above.

Recognize that while so much in your life has changed due to your loss, you can trust yourself to learn how to weather the changes and challenges in the year ahead.

In our next post, we’ll suggest 5 easy and practical resolutions you can make for the coming year.

1/3/19

5 simple resolutions for a new year

Give yourself a big pat on the back!

You’ve just survived the holidays, one of the toughest times for anyone grieving a loss. Now you’re probably looking ahead and wondering how you’ll ever make it through the next twelve months.

Here are five suggestions to help gently ease you along the bumpy road of bereavement:

1. Remember to keep any resolutions realistic. You’re not your usual self while you’re grieving, so be gentle with yourself.

2. Set at least one small, “bite-size” goal every day, such as tackling a couple of tasks. Be sure to reward yourself after each effort.

3. Think back to the person you were before you married. Can you remember any hobbies or interests that you might have set aside due to family responsibilities? Consider participating in those former activities once again. Local adult schools or community groups offer many opportunities to freshen up your skills.

4. Reach out to others more often. Make a new friend. While widowed groups offer the chance to meet others who can relate to what you’re going through, there are opportunities in your neighborhood such as clubs and organizations that can also be great sources for meeting people who may share other interests with you.

5. Consider all the self-imposed barriers you’ve put up over the years about what you can and can’t do. Now is the time to confront those old beliefs about yourself. Slowly begin to tackle a few of the things your spouse used to handle, such as minor household repairs or cooking.


If you can put even one of the above resolutions into action, you’ll be giving yourself the gift of greater self-confidence with which to face the new year.