widow journeyAs I sit here, reflecting on the year that has passed, I realized how alone I feel. Sure, I have lots of loved ones in my life – and many, many people I can count on to be there for me, so I’m not lonely at all. But I’ve never felt this alone. I think it’s all the holiday cheer and the family gatherings. It’s more noticeable being alone after leaving a rowdy group and returning to this quiet existence.

I’m not saying it’s a bad feeling. It’s just a fact. For so many years, there was someone always at my side. Always a part of my life. Almost a part of ME. And now, for more than six years, I’ve lived this solo existence. Of course, the way I feel about that has evolved from that first frightening sense of loss and anguish to how I feel today: complacent about it – even enjoying myself in my quiet pursuits with my dozens of hobbies and interests.

And at this point, I’m even alone by choice. I’ve dated a few men who were possible love matches, but my life alone seems better than what it would be with any of them. Many widowers, including the one I went to lunch with yesterday, just can’t handle living alone. They seem to want a new substitute wife and haven’t made lives for themselves. I have, and I’m waiting for someone who will add to what I’ve worked hard to create.

In other words, I’ve survived.

I remember something my friend and fellow widow said about how nothing feels insurmountable or that upsetting anymore, because we’re survivors. And she’s right. I mean, even the obituaries and death notices refer to the widow as that. “So and so was survived by his wife.” We literally ARE survivors. And I think knowing that in a way helps me work through – and even accept – whatever comes my way now.

So, for those of you who are new to widowhood, remember this when you’re at your lowest, when the grief is at its worst. You survived! You woke up the day after he died, and you were still breathing and your heart was still beating. And you made it through that day. And the next. And the next. And if you could survive that, you can survive anything! And one day, the new life you’ve created alone may even feel normal, possibly even enjoyable. But it takes time. It definitely takes time.

I’m guessing some of today’s ruminations are the result of a poem I wrote in a recent writing class. The assignment was to listen and hear what my body was trying to tell me. And I realized my heart was telling me that – just like the Celine Dion song – it will go on. Because widows are survivors.

Your heart
Is not permanently damaged
It was not destroyed
With his death

It still beats –
But cautiously now
Having been severed from another,
it bears a painful scar

Your heart beats on,
Just not with the vibrant tempo
That throbbed
When he was alive

When two hearts beat in tandem –
That spark between you
A strong, lively, lovely rhythm
Each time he entered the room

Your heart beats on
But at a more tentative pace
A quiet, gentle throbbing
As it seeks –
Someone new

It won’t join casually with
Any other heart
Nor rhythmically beat with someone
who hasn’t earned the right
To take up the same strong tempo

Your heart is still beating
It only aches in remembrance
And is cautious of feeling more pain

But hearts are resilient
And, listen,
your heart beats on


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.