For a couple years after my husband died, grief completely overtook my life. I was in a pain-filled fog. I thought about him around the clock. There were memories of his loss everywhere – in my home, my life, my routines, my habits, my comings and goings. Every store we shopped in, every street we drove down together, every restaurant and diner where we ate,  every park where we went to write together was an emotional challenge. Rick’s memory – and the pain of his loss – was all-consuming.

There was an unfilled void that followed me to every family event, wedding, movie, party, trivia game. When a couple shares so much of life together, the absence of half the duo is glaring, awful, even scary. How was I to navigate a world and a future without my other half?

Eventually, I did just that. And, as always, I must stress how important grief counseling was in helping me to heal from the impenetrable sadness that resulted from losing the love of my life.

And now, as surprising as it is to me, I like my life. I even enjoy living alone, which is in stark contrast to the woman I used to be – sitting in the car in my garage for more than an hour upon returning home from some event. I couldn’t bear the idea of entering that too-quiet house. It was gut-wrenching to face the emptiness that awaited me, so there I sat, in my dark car, trying to gain the strength to enter my own home.

The house is still quiet and empty, but I’ve filled it with as many comforts as I can. I redecorated it to my personal taste (not the one we compromised on years ago). I have my teal rose-patterned pillows, giant red flower art print, small chair-side table where I sit and write while keeping cozy by the electric fireplace, cat lounging on the stool by my side. It’s a different environment from when he was here, and it did take awhile to get up the gumption to not keep it preserved as a shrine to our life together, to change things, move things, even discard some things – all of which were impossible to do in the first few years after he died.

I’m filling my time with writing courses, genealogy, playing with my grandchildren, canasta nights, dinners and movies with friends and family, and dating now and then. Six years have come and gone, and I am content, even feeling joy, again. I never would have believed that there was life beyond the pain, but here it is. And I’m thankful, very, very thankful, that I have been able to find happiness again.

Here’s a poem I wrote in my latest poetry course. The assignment was to write about something that you want or like and define it through opposition, saying what it is not. I knew immediately that this new-found joy in life is a stark parallel to “what it is not,” and what it will never be again.


This life alone
Is not
Filled with the pleasant sounds
of a man’s sweet baritone voice
singing a tune while he
performs his chores

This life alone
Is not
Made up of perfect evenings
enjoying chicken cooked on the grill
while chatting about our day

This life alone
Is not
Cuddling in bed on a rainy afternoon
or being engulfed in his brawny arms
on a wintry night

This life alone
Is nothing
like the one we once shared

But time has
muted the glaring quiet
softened the sharp edges
warmed my shivering soul

Now this life alone
Quiet and enjoyable
Fulfilling and adventurous
Novel and unpredictable
Secure and independent

This life alone
Fits me now
like a comfortable robe
new and never worn
discovered in the back of my closet

Katherine Billings Palmer


Do you know someone ready to make a meaningful impact this holiday season? Join us in embracing the true spirit of giving by getting involved in the Hope for Widows Foundation’s ‘Bring Hope Holiday Assistance Program’ virtual initiative, now in its third year. This program directly supports widows who may be struggling to provide gifts and essentials for their children during the holiday season.

For many widows facing financial challenges, the choice between keeping the lights on, putting food on the table, and buying presents can be heart-wrenching. When you add the responsibilities of solo parenting, the weight of grief, and the toll it takes emotionally and physically, the burden becomes even greater.

To become a sponsor and access more information, and details visit the following link:

For our widows/hope sisters in the community, please stay tuned as we’ll be sending out widow applications for sponsorship this holiday season very soon.

Let’s come together and make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.



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