widow crisisThe world is a scary place right now, and I know there are a lot of people alone in their homes, waiting it out. There are many who have always been alone, who have never found a companion they wanted to share their lives with, and I feel for them now. But as a widow, I know that I’m in the same boat with many other women who used to have a man by their sides, someone to weather this storm with. Depending upon how long your husband has been gone, you may be used to managing on your own by now, but you may also be alone for the first time in years, and my heart goes out to all of you.

Rick has been gone 2 ½ years. I’ve adapted, and the worst is behind me. Since I started dating again six months ago, I’ve not only had to define what I’m looking for in a prospective date – the type of man, age, height, demeanor, likes, and dislikes, and things we have in common. But also, I’ve asked myself, what do I even want the relationship to lead to? Do I want to get married again? To have a long-term partner who lives with me? or do I prefer to remain alone in my house in a sort of extended dating period where the man never moves in? Am I even interested in long-term at all, or do I simply want a date for a movie or dinner now and then, that leads to nothing more than that?

After mulling over all my options, I surprised myself by coming to the decision that I am not anxious to remarry. I loved being married to Rick. I enjoyed just about everything about having him in my life – the companionship, the support, knowing that the person I wanted to be with more than anyone was here by my side day and night. So not wanting to remarry in no way reflects upon the love I had for Rick or how much I relished being married to him. But, for now, I am enjoying the independence I’ve never had. I’ve been a daughter, a mother, and a wife. Now I’m just me, and I (selfishly?) like being just me for the first time in my life. I do what I want when I want, whenever I want, and I don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. WOW! This is a novel and fun experience.

So, I’ve decided I want to remain single, and I don’t picture that changing in the foreseeable future. Not only am I enjoying my first-time independent lifestyle, it’s also been interesting dating several men in the past six months. I’ve enjoyed getting to know them, and – besides the two I’m currently involved with – I’ve parted amicably with the others I decided I no longer really wanted to hang out for one reason or another.

I’ve wondered if this disinterest in finding a new spouse, or long-term guy, could be because I’m not in love with anyone now, so I don’t feel that overwhelming urge to be with any man. But for whatever reason, in general, I like living alone in my own home…when things are fine. But in the past few weeks, as this coronavirus pandemic develops, I have discovered one thing about being married to Rick that is sadly absent now, and that I would gain with a long-term partner – I miss feeling safer because I had someone to share the decisions, fears, and anxieties with.

Of course, I have my son as a supportive element, and my many other loved ones and friends, as well. They will always have my back, and I’m fortunate indeed. But since Rick’s death, I have often missed having the presence of a partner and trusted companion in my home and in my life – and it becomes more evident when any problems or crises arise.

About a year ago, my home was invaded. A man broke into my house through the living room window and stole my backpack and money from my purse as I slept oblivious to the whole event in my bedroom 50 feet down the hall. I remember feeling violated and unsure about my safety the next night when I went to sleep in my bed. And I knew if Rick had been there, I would have felt less vulnerable, more comfortable, and less alone. It wasn’t that he could have protected me – no one can be guaranteed to do that if a home invader has a weapon or the element of surprise. I guess it was just the sense of feeling a little more secure because I had a partner to share the ordeal with.

And now, as I spend another night alone in my home, trying to keep safe from the pandemic, I am constantly reminded that I miss having someone to cuddle me in the night. Someone to soothe me as I mull over the scary questions, and try to stay safe from the impending viral invasion. I had mostly gotten past that in the last year or two, but now, as I’m stuck facing the prospect of being homebound for weeks, months, or however long it requires, I’m starting to feel the pain of his loss more acutely again. I miss having someone to hang out with in the evenings, my Boggle partner, the man I used to share life with. Rick would have helped me fend off the boredom and isolation, as we chatted and binge watched TV, laughing together over the latest episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm or some other goofy show. This crisis has only served to remind me how much I miss having him in the chair next to me on a long dark evening, and that – unfortunately – there will be more isolated evenings ahead.

So, I may enjoy my newly discovered independence in the good times, but in a crisis, I’m feeling the loss of having a partner here by my side. And, of course, if I get sick – as I have a couple times since Rick died – I’ll miss someone to take care of me, to stroke my head, and to joke with me until I feel better.

It’s times like these that you feel your widowhood more pointedly. In the good times, I often miss the enjoyment of sharing a joke with Rick or telling him some exciting news, but in the scary times, I miss my rock and my companion – and the perks of having him here with me. It’s just one more of the many things a widow has to adapt to as a woman alone. But I’ve learned lots of coping techniques in the past couple of years, so I’ll keep busy with projects, and I’ll write. I’ll read and watch movies, and I’ll Facetime with my loved ones. And I’ll also remember how fortunate I am that we created a cozy and secure home where I can hide out during the crisis. I’ll be fine here by myself, and I’ll remember to count my blessings, but these long nights alone will remind me once again of what I’ve lost, and how lucky I was to have had twenty years with a loving husband to ride out the storms of life once upon a time.


On August 13, 2017, I lost the love of my life. Rick Palmer and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary one month before he died at age 63 of complications from treatments for small cell lung cancer. He was my partner and soulmate, the love I had been looking for and finally found at age 40.

Rick was a talented writer and web designer and, in 2002, we began our own web and print design business. We worked together building the business and enjoyed traveling, writing, and playing together. Our dream was to spend our golden years together doing more of the same, but in the ten months from diagnosis to death, that dream shattered.

After Rick’s death, I quickly realized that the enormity of his loss was too much for me to handle on my own, so I began grief therapy. I also began writing through my grief in a journal of feelings, thoughts, memories, and poetry. As I navigate my new life alone, I share my journey and my efforts towards creating my “new normal” on my personal blog: The Writing Widow. I’m also on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

I recently published two books about my grief journey: my poetry book, I Wanted to Grow Old With You: A Widow's First Year of Grief in Poetry, and compilation of my blog posts A Widow's Words: Grief, Reflection, Prose, and Poetry - The First Year." Both books are available in print and Kindle versions on Amazon.com.