Archive of ‘Relationship Help’ category

10 Dating Tips for Widows Nearing (and Over) 50

By Sabra Robinson

To the widow who feels aged, out-of-date or useless in the dating game:

You’re not alone and here are a few tips that I’ve developed specifically for you…

You’ve grieved long enough and cried enough tears to age yourself twenty years. You may be in your tenth year of widowhood or second year, yet you feel you’re ready to date. You miss him dearly but you desire a husband, a mate, your Chapter 2.

It’s been too long without a date and you’re getting older.  You want the hand-holding, movie outing, and bear-hugging-type dates.You’re an empty-nester and the house is just too big (or too small) for just one person.

You’re feeling lonely.

You’ve tried blind dates, online dating, speed dating and even church. And nothing.

You’re feeling sexy.

You’ve tried yoga, Planet Fitness, Home Owners Association meetings and you’ve even stooped so far as to rejoining bereavement groups, just for the possibility of bumping into a potential mate – and nothing.

You’re now angry.

As a widow of five years, and a widow who has had my share of dating since his death, I feel I can share a thing or two about dating so I’ve developed these ten tips for the older widow to help you along the journey of dating.

Tip 1: Be honest about your age.

Please don’t feel that you have to pretend to be someone you’re not. Yes, you may look a certain age, but you’re not. Yes, lying about your age may give you a better chance at getting a date. Don’t do it. Yes, you may feel youthful, sexy and carefree but, you’re lying. What if the relationship thrives and you both fall in love? He will respect you more if you come clean. Remember, honesty in a relationship can make or break it.

Tip 2: Try dating a widower.

Widowers may ‘get it’ long before a non-widower does. He’s already familiar with the unwanted journey so if you cry for your husband, he can relate. If you leave up his pictures, more than likely, he does too. If it doesn’t work, don’t give up on dating. Keep in mind that widowers are human too and although he may not be THAT guy, at least you gave it a chance. If it doesn’t work, don’t be dismayed; it just wasn’t a match. I dated one, and it was a very good experience. He understood my cries, he understood my pain and he got me through very hard days. Would a non-widower have understood my grief? Maybe, maybe not, but I felt very comfortable around him. We were the ‘cute couple’ to some, but I enjoyed my independence too much. Would I give him another chance? I sure would …when I can come out of my selfish desires of enjoying company by myself, when I can finally admit to myself that I’m ready for a long-term relationship and more importantly, when I can stop giving excuses of running away because of the overall feelings of guilt of selecting someone other than my husband. But that’s not what my husband would have wanted. He would have wanted me to be happy. Before he died, he wanted me to remarry; he didn’t want me to live life alone without a partner. I’ve dated many non-widowers but to be honest, I’ve never had so much fun with the only widower that was interested in me. I could be myself, tears and all – and he understood every bit of it.

Would I date only widowers? No, but they would be my first preference. If it doesn’t work, would I be upset? Maybe, maybe not. But heck, I was upset when I was dating non-widowers, like the one who used me like a rubber band to the point where he introduced me to his married client who I befriended, only to find out he was having an affair with her (and the list goes on). Besides, I have a future podcast with a widow who married a widower so I’m excited to hear her love story.

Actually, I’ve been through it all and to be honest, the only one who made me truly smile, was-a-widower :-).

Tip 3: Don’t be afraid to step outside of the box.

Do something different than the norm. You’re grown and you’re not getting any younger…find a dog sitter, tell your ‘still-living-at-home’ adult children to find another place to mooch off of for the evening.

Tip 4: Don’t settle if you don’t have to.

Instead of allowing yourself to settle, allow yourself to grow in learning new things. Don’t settle for a man who doesn’t do anything for your mind or spirit. Being able to identify with someone through an intelligent, funny, and adult conversation is the sexiest thing close to sex itself.

Tip 5: Date a younger guy. 

If a younger guy hits on you, so what! If he’s old enough to purchase wine, he’s an adult. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the company of a youthful man. He could teach you a thing or two about the latest urban slang, the coolest emoji, and the newest Social Media app. And you may even be encouraged enough to change your wardrobe to something a bit more younger, not slutty, but try adding new accessories or even wearing dresses instead of jeans, yoga pants or slacks when meeting for a date. Try changing up your appearance and your makeup and try looking at life from a Millennial or Generation Xer’s point of view (not necessarily changing yours but be an ear to theirs). *Tip 5.1: Pull out your high school or college pictures to remind you of your youthfulness.

Tip 6: Don’t talk about your late husband on the first date – unless he asks.

Don’t be surprised if he suddenly falls ill after you’ve relayed a very lengthy conversation about how you have enjoyed your blissful marriage.  Gather your emotions and write down a list of ‘whatnots’ prior to the date. If he’s a widower, remember his feelings. Your rekindled memories may spark certain feelings for his late wife – he may not want that. Certain impressions may also make or break the date.

Tip 7: Don’t be afraid to date someone shorter. 

Your blessing can come in all shapes and sizes. It took me a year to accept the advances from a guy who was shorter than I. He was very mature for his age and a great singer, too! Some of the most famous celebrities are married to shorter men.

Tip 8: If he’s younger, don’t show him your Senior Discount card (or let him know you have one)  🙂

Let’s face it, you may have a Medical, Prescription, or even a rental discount card in your wallet. If he asks you if you own one (which would be a bit awkward), that’s another story, just go with the flow. But please, do not let him know that you’re a member of any senior discount card clubs – not yet anyway. I know several women who appreciate their discounts and benefits but the words, retirement, dentures, arthritis, etc. may trickle in his mind, when in fact, it shouldn’t so don’t give him a reason to think beyond what you can bring to the table…today.

Tip 9: Get some exercise or get busy! 

When he calls and asks what you are doing and you’re always sitting on the sofa watching television, he may think he’s dating an old lady. Get active for heaven’s sake! However, if he does the same thing, then more power to you both! You both have something common.

Tip 10: Pray.

If you’re a woman of faith and are seeking to remarry, be specific in your prayers. Don’t ever feel that you have to settle.

*Tip 10.1: If you’re a spiritual person, ask him this question: “If I were on my deathbed, would you still  be able to pray for me?” If he says yes, that’s wonderful, but watch his actions.

Tell me, which tip or tips would you use?

Sex, and Buffets, and Widows, Oh My!

By Michelle Miller

The other night I happened to be in a jacuzzi with three men and a bottle of whiskey. You know, just a typical Sunday night for Yours Truly. As whiskey-laced conversations often go, ours became deeper with each pour. A discussion of friends these men had lost to suicide arose and I asked them all how their friend’s widows were coping. This lead to a discussion on grief-sex.

“I could never have sex with someone who had just lost their husband,” said Number One. “I’d feel too much like I was taking advantage or something.”

“I would! If a widow needed sex I’d do it,” said Number Two with a tone full of sincerity and devoid of humor.

Number Three just lit his cigarette.

Right there in front of me was the polarized opinions of the masses when it comes to grief-sex. Some see sex after loss as harmful or disrespectful, some see it as helpful and natural, some people ignore the very notion of it…….and then you have people like me, who see grief-sex as one big food analogy.

The way I see sex after death, particularly the death of a spouse, is like food. Some people simply can’t eat while in mourning, and some people put on their stretchy pants and hit the all-you-can-eat buffet.

I hit the buffet.

The unending choices that online dating provided me with, and my ability to put whoever I wanted on my plate was how I regained my sense of power back after the free fall that was my husband’s suicide.

I regret none of it. Not even the guy with erectile dysfunction. The man buffet was a necessary part of my early grief.

Yes please I’ll take another scoop of that twenty-two year old gym rat with extra surfer-guy gravy on the side. No wait, put him on top, thanks.

Why yes, I’ll have a third slice of that sweet bartender and his cold-hearted ice cream friend next to him. Extra whipped cream.

No thank you to the emotionally healthy salad bar men with a savings account and kind eyes, I’ll stay over in the deep-fried-fucked-up biker guy section with the men whose engines are always running hot and their feelings for me cold.

There were very few times during my sex buffet years, when I felt taken advantage of. For the most part, grief-sex was an outlet for my rage and a way to regain my sense of power during those early years while in a perpetual state of free-fall.

The loss of power that comes with the loss of a spouse, particularly in cases of suicide, is something no one can prepare you for. Having my husband kill himself was to have the earth removed from my feet. It was to fall into a void that was darker than pitch black, only to land in a deeper void that was filled with infinite voids. It was to scream at the top of my lungs with no sound coming out and no one around to notice me. It was not having power taken from me, it was the realization that I never had any to begin with.

In so many ways, his death was also my own.

Sex, is the opposite of this. And while we are at it, so are all-you-can-eat-buffets! The consumer gets to chose the who, how, when, and how much. We cannot chose this of our spouse’s death, which is why a lot of widows and widowers have a lot of sex soon after their spouse’s funeral.

And sometimes AT their spouses funeral.

(FYI: Had I not had my children surgically attached to me at my husband’s funeral, I probably would have had sex with a groundskeeper or something!)

The loss of power is an interesting and universal part of the human experience, especially in the context of widowhood. Lack of power and the trek to regain a sense of it, manifests in so many different ways. Some find power in prayer, some find power in food, some find power in creating a charity, some find power in exercise, some find power in traveling, some find power through art, and some find it through sex.

The only differences in these quests to regain our sense power is how outsiders react to them. There is this undertone of expectations every culture has for how their widows are to behave; here in America you are a good little widow if you participate in church and charity, and you are a bad little widow if you participate in beer pong and car sex.

I am a bad widow, and it heals me the same way that church and charity heal my “good” widow sisters. We are all the same underneath our coping mechanisms and metaphorical black veils. At the end of the day, as we crawl into our big, empty beds we are all just widows. Not good, or bad, just hurting, and oh so very beautiful.

Sit Down. And Shut Up.

By John Polo

I think that anybody who has followed me from the start or takes the time to read my work will agree that my writings are an expression of true love, raw grief and an undying hope for a better tomorrow.

This post is a little different.

This post is being written on February 14th, 2017.  Valentine’s Day.  After I just read another post from a widow friend who is being made to feel like an awful human because she chose to try to live again.

Here is my rant:

Sit down. 

And shut up.

Serious question:  Is your spouse six feet under?  Oh wait, are they a pile of ashes?


They aren’t?




Then, sit down.

And shut up.

My wife’s name was Michelle.  She’s gone.

Once a widow.  Always a widow.

Once a widower.  Always a widower.

Not, this isn’t a plea for sympathy.

No, this isn’t even an angry post.

This is an honest post.

This is a passionate post.

This is a real post.

Sit down.

And shut up.

Unless you watched your spouse die.  Unless you buried your spouse. Unless you burned your spouse.

Sit down.

And shut up.

Do not tell a widow or widower how they should be living.

Do not tell a widow or widower how they should be acting.

And please, for the love of all that is right in this world, PLEASE – do NOT tell a widow or widower when they should try to love again.

I am  sick of seeing widows and widowers vilified for trying to pick up the pieces of their lives.

I am sick of seeing widows and widowers vilified for trying to find companionship again.  For trying to find love again.

Hell, for trying to find ANYTHING again!

We are lost souls. On a journey to find our self again.

And YOU want to judge?


Do you know the courage it takes to go back out there after your spouse has died?

After you watched them die of cancer.  Or a massive heart attack.  Or suicide. 

After you watched them fall to sixty pounds.  Having bowel movements on themselves.  Having horrific hallucinations so bad that seeing them like that strangled your soul.

After you watched them fall to their knees.  And clutch there chest. And take their last breath.

After you walked in on their body.  Dead.  Because they took their own life.

You have no idea.

Do you have any idea how badly the loss of a spouse messes with your mind?  With your heart?  With your soul?

No.  You don’t.

So sit down.

And shut up.

You are not allowed to judge.

You are not allowed to pass judgment as you drive home to your spouse.

You are not allowed to pass judgment as you eat dinner with your spouse

You are not allowed to pass judgment as you cuddle up on the couch with your spouse.

You are not allowed to pass judgment as you have sexy time with your spouse.

You.  Are.  Not.  Allowed.  To. Pass.  Judgment.

Sit down.

And shut up.

Stop judging.

Stop thinking that you know what the hell you are talking about.

Because you do not.

Your life wasn’t ripped from you.

Your future wasn’t destroyed.

Sit down.

And shut up.

This was not our choice.

This was not a breakup.  Stop comparing.

This was not a divorce.  Stop comparing.

This was not the loss of a grandpa. Stop comparing.

This was not the loss of Uncle Thomas.  Stop comparing.

And for Heaven’s sake, this was NOT the loss of your damn CAT. Stop comparing!

This was the loss of a  soul mate.

Our love.

Our other half.

Our life.

Our future.

Sit down.

And shut up.

The next time you see a widow or widower try to pick themselves off, dust themselves off and ‘get back out there’. 

You have 2 choices.

You can either sit down and shut up.


You can give them a standing ovation.

For their heart.  For their courage. For their bravery.

Those are your two options.

And your ONLY two options.

Because. You. Do. Not. Know.

 – Rant.  Over. –

Mic Drop.

© Copyright 2017 John Polo

*You can follow John Polo on Facebook by searching Better Not Bitter Widower, and you can find his blog at*





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How to Drop the Widow Bomb on Your Date in 3 Easy to Follow Steps

By Michelle Miller

***The Widow Bomb: The precise moment someone realizes you are widowed; the beginning of said person’s rude, insensitive and/or awkward treatment of you; the end of your relationship with said person.

***image from DivantArt

Step 1: The Build

First and foremost on dates, act like you are normal. I know this can be difficult while existing in the Widow Hood, but with a little bit of alcohol and a quick chant at the foot of your Beyonce altar, anything is possible.

The detonation of the widow bomb is all about the timing. One must build up to the explosion as slowly as possibly in order to achieve the greatest level of personal satisfaction upon detonation…..and we’d all be lying if we didn’t admit that there is indeed a level of satisfaction upon seeing the horrified look on people’s faces when we tell them we are widowed.

During small talk with your unsuspecting date, at all costs, avoid your marital status. Change the subject. People love to talk about themselves so redirect any and all personal questions back to your date.

Example (this may or may not be a true story of something that actually happened to me):

Them: So how long have you been divorced?

You: I’m not divorced. This wine is really good! How’s your beer?

Them: Good. So you never married your kids’ father?

You: Yes, we were married for eight years

Them: Oh, so you guys are like, separated?

You: I suppose you could say that *thinks about the six feet of dirt that ‘separate’ my husband and I when I go to the cemetery* What is your favorite sexual position, so I know for later?

Side Note 1: The sex position question has a 95% success rate for complete and total distraction until you start taking each other’s clothing off. At this point your date will press you for more details on the whereabouts of your ‘separated’ spouse to ensure that he or she will not be coming through the door in a jealous rage to attack them.

Side Note 2: Naked time is by far the most fun time to drop The Widow Bomb, so please use this strategy every chance you get.

Side Note 3: The only time the sexual position question won’t work is if you unknowingly find yourself on a date with a pastor (trust me on this one).

Step 2: The Climax

Now for the fun! Make sure you are face-to-face when the big moment presents itself, as the look on the face of your date is half the fun! If it is a man and he is already naked, all the better, as you will get to see more than just their face turn into a frown (trust me on this one too).

There are several different phrases you can use. I keep a list of these phrases on a poster in my room and check them off after each date to make sure I use all of them equally. I’m a huge advocate for equality in all forms.

The cute approach: “I’m widowed, but it’s fine because I get to wear a really cute black veil anytime I want, and I have a standing prescription for Valium if you ever want me to share, I totally will.”

The practical approach: “He’s dead, but this works out for you because you don’t ever have to worry about me going back to him.”

The (slightly) psychotic approach: “He offed himself after cheating on me for seven years and I’m really angry which means the sex we are about to have will be oh so hot.”

The “Victim” approach: If at any point you change your mind about wanting to have sexy time with your date, just simply say, “I’m widowed” and then cry until they start giving you food and/or money to make you stop weeping, while they call you a Taxi.

Step 3: The Recovery

Once the victim, I mean your date, has been completely turned-off and repulsed by you because they are emotionally ill-equipped to deal with your life, make sure you comfort them.

With a punch in the face.

If someone cannot see that your Widow Badge is something that means you have strength, empathy, and a unique view on life, they deserve to be punched. Your Widow Badge is not something many people will appreciate, and how sad for them, because they are missing an opportunity to love someone whose well of compassion is as deep as their craziness is vast.

The dates that reject you, are missing out on getting to know someone who spontaneously dances in the grocery store, and flips off strangers, all in the name of expressing their inability to care what others think of them. They are giving up the opportunity of 2:00am chats with someone who can teach them things about life that no one else knows until they have joined the Widow Hood. Yes, how sad for them indeed.

And lastly, in the recovery process, comfort yourself after these train wreck dates with a slice of chocolate pie, and a group of widow friends who just get it. I am one of them. Message me anytime and I will commiserate with you.

© Copyright 2017 Michelle Miller

Inner Wisdom

By Cathy Nelson

imageDuring my life, I have often sought permission from others to go ahead and do what my heart was telling me. This habit hasn’t always served me well.

Consequently, today I want to suggest the following to my widow sisters. Give yourself permission to:

~ forget the stages of grief and grieve in the manner that suits you the best;
~ love yourself;
~ pay attention to yourself;
~ put yourself and your needs first;
~ run away;
~ ignore those who do not understand;
~ let go of old friends who judge you;
~ find new friends who do understand you;
~ laugh and laugh and then laugh some more;
~ cry whenever and wherever you want;
~ never forget;
~ sell your house and move;
~ redecorate your house;
~ begin dating at the time which is comfortable for you;
~ go back to school;
~ quit your job and find a new one;
~ lose weight;
~ begin to exercise;
~ welcome your new life;
~ let go of the guilt including berating yourself with “would of, could of, and should of”;
~ ignore what others are telling you to do and listen to your own intuition

It’s okay; it’s okay; it’s all okay!!!

Whatever it is YOU desire. – go for it. Please know that you don’t need my permission or anyone else’s permission to follow your heart! My widow sisters, your life is yours to live as you see fit and don’t let anyone tell you differently!!!!

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Now I Do My Own Talking……..And I’m Okay

By Cathy Nelson

I am celebrating a small, yet significant, victory this week: I stood up for myself without having to think it through first. When it was time to let another person know what I found acceptable or not, my response naturally flowed out of me.

My good friend and I attended a concert a few days ago. In order to sit as close as possible to listen to one of our favorite groups, we purchased the most expensive tickets available. We arrived early and found our seats. Before the concert started, I decided to walk around to stretch my legs. When I returned to our seats, I discovered that the person sitting directly behind me had hung his big leather jacket on my chair. I also noticed that his coat had a big collar, which I knew was going to poke my back. Needless to say, it would have been very uncomfortable for me to sit in this position for two hours. Now, I had to decide what to do about this situation.

Not so long ago, I would have handled this issue very differently, Actually, better said, I would have let someone else (either my husband or, in this case, my friend) handle it for me. However, this time I didn’t even think about what to do or say. The words just came out calmly, yet firmly: “This is my seat.” His response to me was, “Oh, are you not comfortable with my coat hanging on your chair?” I responded back, “No, I am not OK with it.” And with that, he simply removed his coat from my seat.

I gave it no more thought … until after the concert.

Years ago, I would have ignored my feelings of discomfort because, after all, my feelings were always secondary to the feelings of anyone else. Today, I realize my feelings are neither less nor more important than anyone else’s. They are equally important. I know that my feelings matter,

Since becoming a widow, I have learned it is up to me to speak for myself. In a way, I’m realizing that rather than bemoaning that I have to do everything for and by myself, this is actually very enlightening and liberating! Although it seems like a nice idea to have someone who will speak up for me, at the same time, knowing that I can speak up for myself feels pretty good. Moreover, it reduces my dependence or need for a man or another person to do things for me. This allows me, the man in my life, my friends and my family to foster our relationships out of desire and choice vs. need or obligation.

As you are all very aware, it’s very difficult having to deal with the challenge of losing a spouse. And I know that for me who had a 35 year relationship, I got used to the idea of someone speaking up for, and even defending, me at times. However, in its own strange way, being a widow has liberated me to realize that I am powerful enough to speak up for myself. I have a voice and a mind that God gave me to use. Using them has supported me in knowing that, no matter how challenging the prospect of losing a spouse can be, I am still alive and strong enough to deal with whatever else life may have in store for me!

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Loving Me

By Cathy Nelson

I have been accused of not helping my friends and adult children through their grief. The truth is my accusers just might be correct. In retrospect, I was totally absorbed in my own grief and, after 6 years of caring for my husband, I felt I had no more left to give.

I had spent a lifetime of working at my own job to support my family, while my husband was starting his own business. Additionally, I worked alongside my husband in the family business, raised children, weathered disappointments and heartaches as I felt my husband’s pain along with my own, dealt with financial concerns, and rode the roller coaster of emotions as I traveled the ups and downs of being told by my husband’s doctors that he was doing well and there was hope that he would recover, only to have him relapse many, many times. After watching him die, my well was finally dry. In order to survive his death, I knew I had to take care of me, myself and I.

For the first time in my life, I got to fall in love with me!!!!!!

I had not abandoned my family. I had abandoned me….I was lost; I was that one sheep I got to go after. Only by loving me could I fully love others, including my children. Oh, how I love them all with my whole heart and being. In fact, I love them enough to learn to love me!!!!!!

My hope is that some day my friends and family will see me in a new light and we can come together in our healing. I have learned that there is no script. Neither is there a manual or a workbook that tells you how to handle loss step by step. However, I do know that if we do the best we know how at the time, that is all we can do. And, as we acknowledge that about ourselves and others, we can look past our own judgement about how we or others handled a painful and challenging situation. And by doing so we open the door for forgiveness, healing and building more connected, deeper and more fulfilling relationships with those we love!

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City of Widows

By Cathy Nelson

Even before I became a widow, I was fascinated with Vrindavan, India, which is also known as the City of Widows .  This is a city to which the shunned widows of India are sent by their family members. Here, these widows are reduced to poverty and roam the streets begging for their food. These once cherished mothers, daughters and sisters are forced to wear white, shave their heads, cannot wear jewelry, shunned by their own children and family members, and even their shadows are considered bad luck. In other words, simply by the act of becoming a widow, these women also lose all of their social rights.

About two months after my husband died, I became filled with an intense desire to travel to the City of Widows. I felt the pull of sisterhood, and I just wanted to walk with them for a little while to, perhaps, feel their pain alongside of them. I never got to go – at least, not yet.

Sometimes, we widows also feel shunned by our families and friends. We feel left out, and, often, it seems as if our whole identity evaporates with the loss of our husbands. Like our widow sisters in India, I have even felt that my shadow is considered bad luck by some.

So, what is left for us? Something really great – lots of hopes, dreams, and even miracles. Despite what losses we’ve experienced, we always retain the power to change our own lives and, thus, create our futures. We are free to live without self-imposed restrictions. If we choose to, we can go back to school; travel; lose weight; date; re-marry; create loving extended family relationships; forgive; practice kindness; and a million more things.

Our pain can become our fuel to create our life. I know it’s not the life we planned, but it IS the life we get to have. So we might as well embrace it with the most enthusiasm and joy that you can muster!I

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The Cycle of Life and Death

By Ellen Gerst

I believe that if you understand the grief process, as well as relationship dynamics, AND how these two are related, you have a leg up on others about understanding life. Please allow me to take you through my thought process to see how I arrived at this conclusion.

First, let’s look at grief. Grief, in some form, is with you from the moment you’re born as you take the first steps toward your ultimate destination. In truth, life is actually a constant and natural progression of loss and subsequent rebirth. This is clearly reflected in nature by the endless change of seasons.

Loss takes many forms. You can experience giant losses all the way down to numerous little deaths, which are the ones experienced each day when, for example, you encounter negativity or momentary disappointment.

One common way loss is felt each year is at school graduation time. You may not have thought of this milestone as a loss and rebirth, but consider the following for a change in perspective.

Each year, school age children move from one grade to another. They leave well-loved teachers behind; friends might move away; and a transition to a new school may be encountered from elementary to middle school to high school and onto college. In these instances, each “goodbye” is a loss. However, on the other side, there is a rebirth, too. It comes in the form of a hello to a gain or a move into a new time and place in one’s life.

One factor that can determine how successful you will be in life is how well you’re able to handle the multitude of transitions experienced over the span of a lifetime. Responding thoughtfully to these changes, rather than reacting without forethought, can allow you to greet and pass through them with less tension and drama.

Next, let’s take a look at relationships. When I muse about the meaning of life, for me, it always comes down to my relationships, of which I have both personal and professional ones.

I ask you: in the end, will it really matter what size house I had, what kind of car I drove, or if I got to travel around the world? I think not.

Stephen Levine said it perfectly: “If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?”


The old cliché, “home is where the heart is,” rings true for me. Just as my heart is at the center of my soul, I am at the center of my life. This is not an egocentric thought, for it’s a healthy ego that propels you to accomplish your goals. So, the relationship I have with myself is of utmost importance. It determines my perspective – how I see my personal world, as well as the world-at-large and those who inhabit it.

All my other relationships radiate out in concentric circles around this main orb. Each of us spends a lifetime working on them.

As each of you travel on the road of your life, people are constantly moving in and out of it. Loss is experienced, but also joy is found in the creation of new relationships or the success of already established ones.

Now, I’ve brought you in a full circle as I linked relationships and grief, or the cycle of life and death (or loss). This cycle is experienced through the relationships each person has with other persons and things and the understanding that each of them have a designated season to live.

There is a natural duality to the world that is reflected in paired opposites such as life and death, and in order to truly understand and appreciate either one, it’s necessary to experience both. It is the stark contrast between the “light” and “dark” times of your life that allows you to be grateful and appreciative of your relationships and all the other gifts that have been bestowed upon you.

The preceding is an excerpt from my book, Mastering the Art of Intimate Relationships: 60 Thoughtful Essays on Dating, Relationships, Life and Love, available here.


Readjusting the Picture of Your Late Spouse

By Ellen Gerst


“The past is never where you think you left it.”

-Katherine Anne Porter-

When a partner passes, it’s human nature to remember only the good things about that person because thinking about anything negative seems as if you would be dishonoring him. However, the truth is that everyone of us is human and, therefore, have human failings.

No one is perfect; no one is a saint. Consequently, one of the steps of widowhood is to readjust the picture of your late spouse. This doesn’t mean forgetting or negating all that was wonderful about him. It’s just drawing a more accurate picture.

Here are just two reasons why it is important to do so.

1. There might have been a certain way the two of you took care of finances, your home, child rearing, etc. Now there is only one of you, and you have to do what feels right for you in your new life. If you continue to put your late spouse on a pedestal and think that “his way” or your old way of doing things were the only and right ways to complete tasks, it makes it virtually impossible for you to feel good about different decisions you are making now. You have to learn to trust yourself without second guessing about the decisions you and your late spouse would have made in the past. Now, you only have the present and the future.

2. If at some point in the future you want to look for love with a new partner, any new person is going to be hard-pressed to compete against a saint or someone who never said or did anything that annoyed you or with whom you always agreed. Although you will always carry the love you feel for your late spouse in your heart, it is not a good relationship technique to always be comparing your late and current partner … with the current partner never quite filling the shoes of your late spouse. In reality, you are a different person now who has been changed by loss. As hard as it might be to admit it to yourself, your late spouse might not be the “perfect” fit for the new you.

Some of you may be having a hard time hearing and digesting the preceding thoughts. Please keep in mind that they are not usually ones incorporated or easily understood at the inception of grief. The process of grief is a slow dawning and acceptance of the infinite changes that have occurred in your life.

Butterfly ©Ellen Gerst


Right now you might compare yourself to a moth who lives in darkness who is spinning her cocoon. However, soon you will be set free to live life as a beautiful butterfly. The harder you work on moving through your grief and addressing the issues in your life, the smoother the transition to butterfly will go.



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