I can’t remember when I heard the phrase “Chapter 2” for the first time. I believe it was on a Facebook page dedicated to supporting the widowed community. A widow lamented that she’d never find another man to love her the way she’d been loved by her hubby. Her “Chapter 2” hadn’t yet arrived.

I’ve been guilty myself of referring to new love as “Chapter 2”. But who says “Chapter 2” has to be a mate? What if you’re perfectly content with never dating again? Don’t you get another chapter?

I believe that you are your own “Chapter 2”. Heck, you may even be on “Chapter 4 or 5”. As a wise widow pointed out, she had a life before she met her spouse and therefore her book was well underway by the time they met.

Our life is a series of pages and chapters. The chapters occur whether or not we have a partner. Our “Chapter 2” is what we make of it.

If you’ve been wanting a career change but were too busy caring for your ailing husband to consider going back to school, why not make enrolling in college your “Chapter 2”? You traveled with your spouse but stopped once he passed away…book that flight, pack your bags and fill the pages of your “Chapter 2” with passport stamps.

Too often we believe that we can’t be happy again because we haven’t met our “Chapter 2”. That’s simply not true. Though a new love can help your heart heal, for the most part, you have to put in the work required to get to a place of healing on your own – before dating.

Part of that healing is getting to know yourself, figuring out your interests; learning what brings you joy. Typically, we go from caring for our spouse and kids to just caring for the kids. We neglect ourselves and even more so when we lose a spouse. We throw ourselves into raising our children in an attempt to overcompensate for their having lost a parent.

While our children absolutely need extra-special attention to navigate the difficult road ahead, I dare you to pour some of this attentiveness into self-care. Stop putting yourself last. Discover the person you’ve become post-loss. I guarantee she isn’t the person you were when you met your husband. Get to know her…her likes, her dreams, her desires, her goals and her plans for future.

I’ve found many widows are now no-nonsense, fiercely independent women. A few have even said they don’t think their late spouses would have even dated them as they are now, let alone married them. That’s why it’s so important for you to get to know who you are post-loss.

Happiness comes from within. A new love story isn’t synonymous with happiness. If you haven’t taken the time to write on your own pages then why expect a partner to do it for you? You have to live and embrace life. Do things that bring you happiness. Adopt a child. Quit your job. Buy your dream car.

Whatever it is, make it count! You are your own “Chapter 2”. You don’t have to wait for anyone or anything to begin writing the rest of your story. And, if your current chapter isn’t going the way you’d like, you have the power to change it. You’ve already been through so much. You deserve all the happiness your heart desires. Be your “Chapter 2”!


Kerry Phillips’ world was forever changed in March 2012 when just one week after her first wedding anniversary she got the call that no one wants to hear: your husband has died. Determined to not allow grief to drag her under, Kerry chose to become an advocate for the widowed community, sharing her own journey and those of other young widows. She also realized there weren't support groups for widows and widowers wanting to venture back into the world of dating and started Young, Widowed & Dating. It provides a forum for those seeking a new love story to share their dating adventures and insights into life after loss. Her weekly blog covers topics ranging from relationships with in-laws to dating while raising children and everything in between.

She is the author of “The One Thing: 100 Widows Share Lessons on Love, Loss, and Life, a resource for new widows told from the vantage point of those who have lived it, and ”Writing & Widowing: Journaling the Journey", a series of journal prompts for the widowed community. Kerry is also a contributor to the book, "Widowed But Not Wounded: The Hustle & Flow of 13 Resilient Black Widowed Women".

When she’s not blogging, Kerry is busy raising a feisty kindergartener and power-walking her way through local 5K races.