grief journey

I met a man. I like him a lot. He’s intelligent, funny, kind, interesting, and philosophical – all traits I desire in a partner. He says he likes me a lot, too – and he shows it in many ways. He’s kind, attentive, and treats me like a queen. He holds my hand when we walk and when we sit together in restaurants. He takes me out to dinners and taverns and showers me with attention – and time seems to stand still when we’re together. He told me he’s smitten with me. I love that word, “smitten.” It’s my new favorite word… and the feeling is mutual.

Then why do I keep feeling such sadness? When I return home from a date with stars in my eyes, why do I seem to feel a sense of loss? In the midst of experiencing happiness, why do I randomly start to cry for no apparent reason? Why does it feel like my heart is breaking when it’s actually suddenly and unexpectedly so full?

I guess I know the answer to that question.

It’s an elusive feeling this time. The grief. The heartbreak. This makes it all final. Rick is gone and he’s never coming back. Another man is holding my hand, telling me he’s crazy about me, kissing me, “smitten” with me. And it’s one of the most bittersweet things I’ve encountered on this long, complicated grief journey.

I guess it’s time to revisit the Hope for Widows blogs that I skipped before, the ones that were written by widows who found their “chapter twos.” I had no reason to read them. In fact, looking back, I think it actually made me uncomfortable to ponder the idea that I would ever find a man who would hold my interest. I finally embraced the idea of dating, but didn’t ever truly envision more than that. It’s time to read the accounts of other widows who’ve gone this way before. To see that I’m not alone in what I’m feeling.

So, here I am, I’m happy/sad, thrilled/despairing, excited/depressed. I have a burgeoning connection with a man. I look forward to getting to know him better and better. Yet, I despair that I am “replacing” Rick.

There are similarities (and differences) between this man and Rick. He’s extremely strong, yet gentle (but not as big). He’s intelligent and clever (but he’s not a writer). He’s funny and makes me laugh (but it’s a different sense of humor). I get lost in our conversation, and when he kisses me, Rick is the farthest thing from my mind. Then suddenly, he’ll make a movement or say something that will remind me of first dates from long ago. Or I’ll feel that little lurch in my heart, and it’s a familiar twinge – after feeling nothing for so long. Yes, “bittersweet” is the perfect word for the feelings I’m experiencing.

I’ve been alone a long time now: in August, it will be four years. For two of them, I grieved and never entertained the idea of another relationship. Then I began dating, and I dated lots of men. When the pandemic hit and the logistics of dating became more difficult, I still messaged and talked to men. And it seemed awkward to me sometimes – being out with men after years of being committed to one man. But none of them felt like “the one,” the one I connected with, was attracted to, felt comfortable with. The one I could picture having something real with. The one who checked all the boxes – and who wanted to be with me as much as I do him.

So with this man, it’s all new. It’s mutual and it’s exciting and I look forward to the next time I see him. But opening this door means the door behind me is irretrievably closed. And it signals a final ending to the story of Rick and Gerry. The wooing, the marriage, the joys, the adventures, the love, the passion, the despairs, and the final awful moments when I held his hand at the end of our time together…. when “til death do us part” became a reality.

Beginning this new story can’t help but remind me that the last story has ended. I knew it, of course, logically. My life has changed drastically in the years since Rick’s death, and although I know the grieving never truly ends, it does bare its teeth a little more now and then. This is one of those times.

So I sit here feeling hope, joy, and excitement at the possibilities of a happiness that I never envisioned. But with these emotions comes pain at the remembrance of a love that once was and that will never be again – and it’s all part of the heartbreak of a new beginning.

Have you heard about Hope for Widows Foundation’s annual virtual Widows of Hope 5K on May 15 and 16? Registration is now open! For details, FAQ’s and to register/support go to: Anyone can join! Whether you are a widow, widower, or a friend/family member showing support, or walking in the loss of another family member, everyone is welcomed to participate. The deadline to register is May 15, 2021. The proceeds will directly support widows directly through their annual financial Restoring Hope and Peace Grants, Sunshine Boxes program, and our Bring Hope Holiday Assistance Program.


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