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.


Michelle Miller is a grief blogger, has essays featured on and, and is the author of, Boys, Booze, and Bathroom Floors: Forty-Six Tales about the Collision of Suicide Grief and Dating. Her memoir chronicles the aftermath of her husband’s infidelities and suicide in 2014 at the age of thirty-one, and how she used dating to run from, and simultaneously into her grief.
Prior to her husband’s death, Michelle worked full time with special needs students in a small town while balancing life with two young children and a volatile marriage. Her approach to grief is one of extreme empathy, humor, blunt honesty, and….okay, a few cocktails along the way.
Michelle is currently living with her best friend, and their five children in San Diego, California. She is working on her second book, Ghetto Grief which is a collection of short stories about the unconventional ways in which she grieved and continues to grieve her husband; set to be released in 2017.For links to follow her on social media, view her blog, purchase her book, or read her published essays, visit:

11 Comments on Sex, and Buffets, and Widows, Oh My!

  1. Linda
    April 20, 2017 at 9:36 am (4 months ago)

    It’s something that I saw this today as this week I had sex for the first time since my husband passed 5 months ago. It was great and I have no regrets. I wish I could shout out to the world that it happened but I do not wish to be judged. I don’t love my late husband any less…just have to do what is right for myself this time.

    • Michelle Miller
      April 24, 2017 at 9:38 pm (4 months ago)

      Well I’m very proud of you! This is a milestone in widowhood. Thanks for sharing

  2. Dawn
    April 12, 2017 at 10:06 pm (4 months ago)

    I had to stop reading 3 times because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t see! I filled up at the buffet sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. I had a little army of younger men and I don’t regret one moment. We had a great time. Thanks for the laughter & evoking my memories, I am correcting a mistake I’ve been involved in and restarting my life, I deserve happiness and I’m going for it!

    • Michelle Miller
      April 24, 2017 at 9:38 pm (4 months ago)

      Yes YES!!!! Girl we are the same!!! “Army of younger men”< haha

    • Suzie
      August 7, 2017 at 12:28 pm (2 weeks ago)

      Thank you your blog has made me feel less slutty. I lost my husband in April he was my soulmate. However due to his illness we didn’t have sex for the last 5 years of our 13 year relationship. This weekend I had my first smorgasbord be it after a few beverages. I was feeling guilty but now know the urge for sexual intimacy with no need for strings is normal. Thank you 😊

  3. Darla
    April 12, 2017 at 9:45 pm (4 months ago)

    Yea I’m not alone .I really thought I was going crazy. And the whole sense I need power is true.

    • Michelle Miller
      April 24, 2017 at 9:39 pm (4 months ago)

      You are NOT alone! So many of us experience this

  4. Karen Abrahamian
    April 12, 2017 at 4:06 pm (4 months ago)

    I loss my husband in 2010 after 25years. Everyone wanted me to get out, date and have fun. I tried but couldn’t do it every man I looked at I compared them to my Bill. My vice is smoking. I went from a less then a pack a day to over 2 packs a day. Thank you for sharing your stories it helps a lot

    • Michelle Miller
      April 24, 2017 at 9:40 pm (4 months ago)

      Thank you for reading. Dating after loss is not for everyone. I hope you find your own path to healing….PS I heart smoking

  5. Elizabeth Ann Dykes
    April 11, 2017 at 12:53 pm (4 months ago)

    I was married to my late husband for 42 years. You can imagine at 58 how hard it was for me to even look at a man An try to figure out how to “date” again.. it’s been almost 3 years an I’m still “stuck”. An trying to move forward. But thank I for your funny an insightful story of your sadness an grief.

    • Michelle Miller
      April 24, 2017 at 9:41 pm (4 months ago)

      I really can’t imagine! 42 years is a whole lifetime….


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