Someone’s google search term landed them here a couple of days ago as he (or more likely “she”) scoured the virtual world for a “support forum for remarried widows”. For her sake, I wish I could post a few links to help out, but the sad truth is that nothing much exists. There are widow boards here, there and near everywhere. Widow blogs ad nauseum. But if you were widowed and have moved on to a new relationship or even marriage, it’s s.o.l. for you.
Most of the boards I have seen really are loathe to set up special forums for the those who’ve moved on. Partly it’s because they want to discourage the popular notion that one can’t really say they’ve moved on until they’ve hooked up again, but the bigger reason is that many of those widowed, who either haven’t found a new mate or have no interest in doing so, are vicious to the point of bat shit crazy about remarried widows. Despite lip service to the contrary, even widowed believe that falling in love again and remarrying is some sort of magical healing that erases the painful memories and renders a remarried widow immune to the occasional sad thought or longing. In some ways, widowed can be just as clueless as those who have never been.
Some remarried widowed folk hide or downplay their new marital status so they can remain part of the online widowed communities. More often they simply walk away and deal quietly and alone with issues as they come up. And mostly it’s women. We make up the majority of those widowed anyway but, regardless, I think it is harder for women to not have the outlet because we are socialized from an early age to seek out and share with those who are like us. Single. Married. Widowed. Mothers. Etcetera. Etcetera. We do this for company but also to try to determine if we are “normal” or what we are feeling or experiencing falls within the boundaries of most other people’s experiences.
I argued myself blue with this and that board admin on the very real needs that widowed who have remarried have but to no avail. It’s a small subset and in the interest of not stirring up the majorities who populate these online communities, the admins chose the path of least effort and headache*.
Still, I see a lot of searches for this type of support and wish I had more to offer in terms of information or advice.
Oh, surely, it can’t be that bad?
Recently, my search log lit up with hits for Ye Olde Widda Board, and after a couple of days of this I was curious enough to click over and check out the latest flaming shit storm. I have to chuckle a bit when these wars erupt because older widowed members will drag out the same tired excuses and nearly all will lie through their keyboards with some variation on “Oh, these things come and go. No hurt/no foul.” Which is total bullshit. The YWBB is one of the foulest of the widow boards. The nasty threads actually pale in comparison to the hateful private messages some members heap upon remarrieds, early daters and anyone who disagrees with the prevailing notions about grief being a catch-all get out of jail free card. How anyone can defend the shit-slinging that goes on there still amazes me, but the chief reason it occurs is that the board itself has no moderator and the board admins lack the moral fiber to delete hateful threads or members.
Until this latest flare-up, I can’t recall anyone ever being chastised, much less banned, but two members were blocked after last week’s dust-up. Only one of them really deserved it. A long time member who is a rabid dog about moving on and should have been punted years ago. I have no doubt she will end up on another site. She needs them in order to hang onto the turmoil and ache of early grief. She’s a vampire really, using newly widowed’s to stoke her own hurt and rage. I pity the community she lands in next.
But the YWBB’s expense lesson is just one of the examples of why widowed who remarry can’t really avail themselves of existing forums. They just don’t quite fit in.
As you move on, it’s not grief in any way the books mention. It’s nuanced and muted and separate from life as it’s being lived.
People who marry widowed like to believe that it’s still grief but just not as often and that it will eventually cease to be completely. A nice fantasy, but ridiculous. Widowed who’ve remarried even like to feed that delusion with nonsense that as you move on, you put your late spouse in a non-romantic love context that stems from mutual off-spring or just the general sadness we all feel from time to time about lost loved ones.
The reality is harder to explain. My late husband holds a part of me that is lost forever – to me or to anyone else. I seldom think of him only in terms of his sperm donation. When he pops up, it’s always in a context that is his alone, and while I can’t say that what I feel is missing or longing, I can say that he will always be a part of me in a way that transcends the child we had together. He doesn’t vanish. He hasn’t given up his place as my husband**, and he will always be significant in a way that is his alone.
If you are a widowed who has remarried and finds yourself reading this, know that you are not alone. Others have walked with dual life path and we’ve struggled with those who don’t get it or want to marginalize the effort that goes into blending families and dealing with the unexpected issues that come up. Know that you’ll be okay. It’s normal to move on. It’s normal to want to love again. It’s not abnormal to love again as fully and as deeply. It’s not a betrayal to love two people. It’s okay to insist that extended family, old friends and even children man up and accept your right to move on. You don’t owe anyone but yourself.
*It’s ironic because many of these sites are run by remarried widowed, who certainly realize how fraught the widowsphere is with anti-remarried’s prejudice.
** Divorced people are very touchy about the terms “husband” and “wife” because they tend to lean toward the very artificial and legal contract side of what marriage is (they remind me a bit of the “marriage is one man/woman” crowd in their self-interested pov). As if marriage is nothing more than a piece of paper. Marriage is far more than the words and the paper. It transcends. But the remarried widowed find themselves tilting at angry windmills when the whole “death ends a marriage just like divorce” arguments begin and that’s just one of many issues that we share as a group that those who haven’t remarried don’t get either.