Dating While Widowed: Hand Me Down No-No’s


English: Screenshot from the original 1958 the...

From the original 1958 theatrical trailer for the film Vertigo Frame taken from (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Normally, I ignore Dear Prudence when it comes to her advice to widowed who are in new relationships. Although she married a widower years and years ago, she’s often of the mindset that her husband’s widower experience, and her having navigated dating and marrying him, is a shared one, and that she “gets it”.

You can’t be or understand widowed vicariously. It doesn’t matter how up close the view.

Today, however, I noted a letter from a newly dating widower, who wondered if it was okay to give his late wife’s vibrator to his new girlfriend. It was an expensive, top of the line model that they’d barely had time to enjoy prior to the wife’s death.

Prudie said “no” and added an “ick” sentiment to her reasoning and I agree totally.

Which brings me to my point for the day, you can certainly bestow the material goods of your late spouse on friends, relatives and children – as long as said goods aren’t sex toys or other intimate in nature possessions – but when it comes to new significant others, just don’t.

While I know of cases where new girlfriends have been offered, and accepted, jewelry, clothing and even footwear, most new loves will be puzzled, hurt or even slightly repulsed by the idea of such “re-gifting”.

It’s difficult enough to deal with objects that are simply too vital or expensive to be replaced. For example, beds and other furniture or cookware and dishes. No one expects a widowed person to replace shared everyday items before they begin dating again or cohabitation with a new love. That’s not only impractical but it’s going way overboard with the idea of starting over.

But being sensible has its limits. I would never have offered my late husband’s clothing to Rob. And not just because their styles were quite different or that they are different sizes and body types.

It would have been “creepy” as my ten-year old daughter would say.

Hitchcock’s Vertigo centered on the attempts of a man to recreate his dead love’s appearance and mannerism via his new, look-alike love interest. The movie culminates in an incredibly disturbing intimacy scene that makes it clear this new woman is merely a stand in for the dead one.

Dressing up your new friend in clothing worn by your late spouse or making your Friday night dinner date at the restaurant you and late spouse loved – is kind of like that. An attempt to recapture someone and something that’s over and gone.

You should be careful with anything that is essentially a “rerun” for you. Vacation spots. Gifts that are things you would have given your late spouse. Pet names. If it is something you shared with them, be careful when sharing it again. A new love is expecting, and deserves, a space of his/her own in your heart and in the laying of a new relationship foundation.

I’ve read about women whose widowers think honeymooning or romantic get-aways at places shared with the late wife are great ideas and who become petulant when their new loves feel second best when they find out about the locations previous encounters. While a woman can be understanding about the mattress on your once shared bed, she isn’t going to be as thrilled about sharing a romantic locale. Beds are a practical matter. Romance is a matter of being creative, thoughtful and taking your new love’s feelings into account.

Not long after we married, we had a garage sale to try to clear out some of the clutter that the joining of two, very grown, adults can make. There was a box of Rob’s late wife’s clothing that needed to be sorted. He wasn’t keen but was willing to let me do it. And it was easier for me because I had no context to place the clothes in.

But before I started, Rob made an off-hand comment about my taking anything I fancied for myself.

Even if she and I had been the same size, and she wasn’t his dead wife, I still would have declined, but I also felt the need to point out that my wearing her clothing was a creepy factor beyond which I was comfortable and wouldn’t it bother him to see me in her clothes?

He conceded the point and didn’t offer me anything of hers again. Though I will admit that while I have kept and used many household items, and have no issue with them, I have always simply chucked others – even if they were perfectly usable – when I felt inclined. If my step-daughters didn’t want them and I preferred not to use them … out they went. It’s been enough for me to live in her house and integrate myself into her community. I didn’t need to keep everything simply because it might seem silly to replace them. I needed to establish myself as the lady of the house. Things that were mine alone were important to that process.

And it is a matter of comfort, so being willing to ask and have discussions with those you date or establish serious relationships with is a must. What might bother one person could be perfectly acceptable to someone else. Just remember to allow the other person their own feelings and don’t expect these feelings to mirror your own or that with a little pressure, you can persuade them to see things your way.That’s just selfish. While you might think you’d be fine living in a house that  your love shared with someone else, your new love doesn’t have to feel the same way and you should respect their feelings.

But getting back to sex toys- sex anything really – just don’t go there. Well sanitized or not, there are privacy issues where the late spouse is concerned and sharing items and details from intimate moments is, my opinion, not only disrespectful to the new love but to your late spouse as well.

A new relationship, if it is to work, should have as much “just us” to it as possible. Even if that means giving up your favorite vacation retreat or buying a new bedroom set. It certainly means springing for a new vibrator in any case.

Obama, Romney or Brain Munching Zombies


Soccer Mom Zombie

Soccer Mom Zombie (Photo credit: juco)

Apparently three scenarios exist for the Tuesday POTUS election in the States.

Obama wins comfortably while Red Staters gnash teeth, rend clothing before donning sackcloth and rubbing themselves in ash to sit shiva for the next four years.

Or Romney rejoices in the bounty of a landslide courtesy of his God who believes in clean living and underwear while Blue Staters learn the sad truth – that Canada really doesn’t want them.

Or finally, the race runs to the wire. Recounting and lawyering-up follow with the nation bracing for Armageddon, which can only be realistically followed up with a zombie apocalypse.

Seriously not a great time to be an American regardless but the mood ranges from weeping toddlers who wonder who this Bronco Bama is and why he and Mitt don’t just get along to Liberals and Conservatives, ironically, accusing each other of being incapable to carry on a discourse about the political direction of the country without resorting to harsh meme’ing and snarky tweets and FB status updates.

Can’t we all just get along, indeed.

I’ve run the gamut on this election from Obama to … well. not Romney ever … but to vaguely considering the Libertarians and the Green Party and ultimately concluding that for a change, I am going to worry about my own interests and simply sit this one out and concentrate on becoming a Canadian (because I actually have that option, living here, being a legal resident and married to one.)

So why worry about it?

For the obvious reason. The United States is due south. Running the entire length of our border. And a bat shit crazy with sore loserness America is a bad neighbor at best and a potentially encroaching threat to Canadian stability and freedom at worst if the folks down there can’t get their shit together and behave like the adults so many of them pose as on FB.

If one is inclined to go with that fact based, statistical analysis of Nate Silver, it’s time to take a Xanax or five (most people I know on FB carry a veritable pharmacy in their handbags of all places) and trust that the process works.

The process. You know the process, right? Both sides present their slightly to completely altered and deliberately misleading interpretations of events, the future and themselves to the public for two years until John and Jane Q are moved to finally give up their land lines and only watch Netflix to avoid them. And then they vote.

Endlessly they vote. For weeks and weeks.

Does the idea of an election day have no meaning anymore? According to the media, they’ve been lining up to vote down there since early last week despite the fact that, officially, the election is held on the first Tuesday of November.

If you aren’t a Nate Silver fan, however, let me point you to Michael Barone, who thinks that Romney wins it by a good margin. Which doesn’t mean anything really though it gave Andrew Sullivan a moment or two of pause because Barone, “knows every inch of every district in a way few others do; he’s deeply knowledgeable about the electoral process”, which muddies waters already quite brown with a giddy Media crowing, “it’s a tie! omg, it’s an effing tie!? how did we get so lucky? 2009 was historical and now a fricking tie!! praise be!”

Okay, they might not have said all of that, but they aren’t the tiniest bit sorry to promote the idea that their guy, Barack, who they have propped and protected since they fell in deep like with him during the Democratic Primaries back in 2008, could possibly lose. Not that they are fine with this, but it’s just better tv. You understand.

And we do, don’t we?

A comfy win is dull but a tie that might end in brains being eaten is entertainment, and at the end of the day, isn’t that what an election cycle every two years that lasts for a solid two years is about?

On Tuesday someone will win the POTUS and someone will lose, and basically nothing about the events impatiently waiting to play out between the acceptance speech proclaiming vindication of one or the other great vision for America and the new year will be affected in any tangible way. The world at large will shrug along with Atlas and continue to wonder how exactly the US got to be a great superpower and how much longer will they have to be suffered.

And there probably won’t be zombies, which is too bad because that would make it more interesting than it’s likely to be.

Dating While Widowed: On Giving Advice


Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Prudence over at The Slate received an email from a widower recently asking for insight into an issue he has with this girlfriend. Seems the girlfriend, in the opinion of the widower, is “touchy” about anything to do with his late wife and the fact that he is close to his in-laws.

Nothing surprising about that. If you haven’t been widowed yourself, it’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that widowed folk really don’t go through the same separation process that one does when a relationship ends in a mutual or acrimonious break-up or when a marriage ends in divorce. Different end games result in different emotional processes.

Prudence aka Emily Yoffe is the second wife of a man who was widowed young. She’s written a rather touching essay on the subject and occasionally outs herself and him in her advice giving. That said, her experience hasn’t made her particularly sensitive to the plight of the widowed. You can’t really be a vicarious widowed person even if your contact with a widowed is rather intimate, so her advice veers off into the cliché, the assumption and the insensitive more often than not when anything widowed comes up.

A person could get speculative here. Perhaps her marriage has experienced more than a few unsettling moments due to her husband’s widowhood and advice seekers on the topic get to bear the brunt that her husband doesn’t. But assuming gets a person into trouble as does reading between lines. Let’s not go there.

Instead, the focus should be on the term “insecure”. Prudie/Emily replied that she felt the girlfriend in this widower dating scenario was simply being insecure and that he need only reassure her before laying down the facts that 1) he had a past and that past includes a deceased wife for whom he will always have feelings though these feelings didn’t preclude him from loving her just as much and 2) his in-laws were his family – get over it.

The insecure wife/girlfriend trope is not exclusive to widowed dating scenarios. It’s a rather effective way to disarm women who have issues within a relationship that their partners simply don’t want to admit are issues that need to be discussed and dealt with in a mutually agreeable manner.

Labeling a woman “insecure” is the first step in making her feelings irrelevant by labeling them irrational. It’s a great way to win any disagreement provided you are totally okay with stomping your opponent into the mud by using such a disingenuous douchebag method.

So why am I talking about advice giving?

It’s easy to give advice. Advice is like opinions, which as we all know everyone has – just like they have assholes.

And it’s also quite easy to fall into the trap of believing that because you’ve experienced something, you are automatically an expert and therefore qualified.

I am not an expert. Nor do I play one on the Internet.

I’ve been widowed. I’ve dated in the aftermath. I’ve remarried.

If one were looking for a bit of wisdom on the topic of successful dating, relationships, remarriage and marriage to a widower, I would be a safer bet than someone who hasn’t managed any of those things or who isn’t married to a man who was widowed himself. However, I have only my individual experiences to draw from and I am not you. Therefore anything I might say needs to be weighed heavily against your own reality.

Prudie is my example of this. She’s married to a man who was widowed, and yet she mostly gives sketchy to bad advice on the subject of widowhood and relationships in the aftermath. Her experience hasn’t translated into much of anything worth seeking out or following.

Of late, I’ve had emails from widowed and comments from those dating and I have tried to reply as best I could. I really do reply to all emails and comments because I know what it is like to have questions and no one to ask. Or to ask and have no one reply or reply in less than helpful ways.

But I am firm believer in weighing everything. There are blogs, books, message boards, Facebook groups and even conventions. All well-meaning but of varying degrees of useful. Certainly there are no experts. Just people with experiences to share and who are no more qualified than you are to solve the issues in your life.

I have written quite a bit on dating, grief and moving on. All based on my experience. Just the opinions of one “asshole”. If there is something that you can take from these writings and put to good use, wonderful. I am glad to have helped.

But there is no one size fits all.

When I was teaching middle school, I would run across this or that student who really didn’t mesh with my teaching style. The best solution was always to find a teacher who did. My seventh grade English teaching partner and I probably traded two or three kids a school year based on our philosophy that for every student there is a teacher – somewhere.

It’s good to shop around. I am flattered and humbled by the blog traffic I generate on widow dating. My husband thinks I should write a book – or at least blog more often -, but I am not a fan of the self-help genre, and I don’t write it for the same reason I don’t write about my first husband’s illness and death. It feels wrong to make money off it. That’s a personal thing rather than a judgement. I admire people who can write and do real good rather than simply exploit an issue for personal gain or fame. Those people do exist. I just question the idea of being one of them myself. It’s too easy to get full of yourself and I am as human as anyone.

So when surfing about, shopping at Amazon or joining this or that group, be careful. Be a critical thinker. And remember that you really do know yourself best. Take and apply only that which fits you and your situation.

I don’t know what ultimately happened to the man who wrote Prudie. Hopefully he did not approach his girlfriend from the stance of “I know you are insecure, dearest, but here is why you are wrong …”.  Don’t be that guy. And don’t worry so much. Whatever issues has brought you here in search of answers are likely as not fixable with a little bit of thought, open honest discussion and taking a few good deep breaths. The yoga teacher in me feels we should just all breathe more because all things pass. You are going to be okay.

On Not Voting for Obama This Time


Vote Oregon!

Vote Oregon! (Photo credit: jugbo)

I should actually say that I am not voting period in the 2012 POTUS race. I did in 2008 though I declined to vote at the state level and didn’t vote at all in the 2010 midterm.

Part of the reason is that I am committed to the immigrant thing here in Canada. My ancestors left their homes in Ireland and Sweden and became United States citizens first and last and that is the right way to do it. It’s the Christian bible, I think, that says one can’t serve two masters and that is about right too.

Though the U.S. doesn’t have an official yea or nay on the dual citizenship thing, it is clear about having first dibs and could care less if a person has chosen to be or was previously a citizen of another country.

This policy has vague and ugly undertones that imply indentured servitude at best and ownership in pre-Civil War Mississippi plantation sort of way that grates against my entitlement attitudes regarding personal liberty.

And so, for this reason, first and foremost, I am abstaining from casting a ballot. I’ve just come to the realization that I am a Canadian though not quite in fact yet, it’s inevitable.

The other reason is that like many others who voted for Obama in 2008, I don’t think much of his effort, the direction of his policies on civil liberty, financial regulation or foreign policy. I don’t think he has any idea of what to do about the economy that isn’t tired and already a proven failure. And the whole secret warring thing and the way he whole-heartedly endorsed all the loathsome police state policies of the Bush II era makes my skin crawl.

Although, I have to admit, the guy gives a good speech.

We were in Iowa when he was bus stopping through the center and northeast. In fact, we got re-routed in Waterloo when his motorcade came through and the local police blocked off our exit strategy while we were stopped for dinner.

There were no more tickets available for his appearance in Dubuque the next day, but we watched him on the local television station.

Dee sat on Rob’s lap and occasionally asked him, “Is that true, Dad?”

And he would explain, “Sorta”. Then give her the actual facts.

At one point my 11-year-old nephew walked into the living room, saw Obama and announced, “I will NOT listen to that man!” and stomped off in the kind of huff only a preteen can manage with any semblance of dignity.

His mother, DNOS, explained later that N2 listens to Rush Limbaugh in the afternoons when he gets home from school. Like his father, he is quite the conservative.

In addition to addressing the misinformation issues for my daughter, I had to correct some of the misleading details of the “scare the old people about their entitlements” with Mom and my Auntie.

“Nothing will affect you guys,” I said. “All the reform is directed at people under 55 whether it’s the Democrats or the Republicans.”

“Well, I don’t know who to vote for,” Mom said.

“Dad would have voted for Ron Paul,” I pointed out. “You can always just write him in and not vote for either Obama or Romney.”

“I can do that?” she was genuinely amazed and seemed a bit relieved.

She didn’t vote the last time. Dad had just died and the election came and went pretty much unnoticed by her.

I used to rail at my Dad for “throwing his vote away”. I don’t think he voted for anyone but 3rd party candidates since Reagan. He was hardcore Republican prior to Bush I. He hated the senior Bush. Thought he was shifty and power-hungry.

“Can’t trust a man who headed up the CIA,” was his opinion.

And a fairly sound voting rule, in my opinion.

Now though, I think Dad had it right. Defensive voting is a losing game. You are forever setting yourself up to be disappointed and not substantially better off in the long run.

Vote for Obama because Romney is the harbinger of the Zombie Apocalypse. Or something like that.

Nothing, however, is going to change really regardless of who wins. There are too many snowballs rolling down the mountainside and no one can stop them or mitigate the damage they are going to do once they roll into the populated areas in the foothills. Perhaps when the powder settles and the people have started digging out, they will get serious about putting into power positions candidates who care more about achieving something than simply the power game itself. I won’t hold my breath but stranger things have happened.

Finally, I am not voting because my best interests aren’t served by involving myself again. I compromised my integrity by letting myself be somewhat peer pressured into accepting Obama as the Democratic candidate in 2008 despite my thoughts that he played dirty with Clinton during the primary and my estimation that he really didn’t have the experience at that point. His rather ham-handed performance in his first term proved the latter and the distraction issue campaign he’s run against Romney has confirmed the former – that he is a politician first and foremost. He is not change at all.

On Facebook, I have been nothing if not contradictory, putting up articles that make it seem that I am a liberal while simultaneously posting conservative views. The fact is that I am neither. I am too much of a realist. There is good and bad on both sides in terms of policy and opinion. To mire myself too far inland on either side would leave me unaware and uninformed on too many important issues.

While it would be nice to be someone who is okay with following for the sake of acceptance and warm fuzzies that has never been me.

So I am not going to vote although that won’t keep me from commentary. George Carlin once said that it’s only those who don’t vote who have the right to complain. People who participate in the system are the ones who should shut the fuck up because by voting, you are agreeing to be okay with the outcome.

The outcome is going to suck. I feel sorry for whoever has to clean up the mess in 2016.

Because What The Homeless Want Is a Swag Bag of Toiletries


English: Homeless woman in Toronto.

Homeless woman in Toronto. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rob came home from work one evening last week and asked me to add toothpaste to the Costco list. Periodically I venture into the warehouse for staples and as I hadn’t made a run in months (and am concerned about rumblings concerning inflation on the eating front), I was steeling myself up for the experience. This involves days of list making and trying to decide which day of the week is least likely to be totally ruined by spending a chunk of it in transit, navigating an overly large shopping cart among the shopping warrior class and realizing as I perused the goods that I’d forgotten to list about half of what I really needed and that as a result the cart was getting too heavy for me to push.

“You’re out of toothpaste?”

He prefers the organic brands and Costco is not into organic toiletries of any kind.

“No,” he said. “It’s for work. It’s charity month and we are putting together baskets for the homeless.”

By “we”, he meant the female engineers because anything even remotely unrelated to the process of pure engineering he now has enough seniority to ignore almost completely, and despite being a women friendly workplace, my husband’s employer is as traditional as any other when it comes to these things. Social committees, charity drives and off-site celebratory gatherings still are majority off-loaded on the females because we have the proper DNA for these types of tasks.

“Toothpaste?” I asked, thinking that if I were one of the legion of homeless that roam the metro of Edmonton, toothpaste would not make my wish list.

“Yes,” he confirmed.

“Because what the homeless really need is a basket of personal hygiene as opposed to something more useful?”

He frowned, “I guess so. I don’t know. I was told to contribute toothpaste.”

“Not mittens? Or a gift card to Timmy’s?” which to me seemed the more logical. “Cuz if I was homeless, a basket of assorted soaps and toothpaste would be taken as a judgement of my cleanliness.”

Because it totally is.

Handing out swag bags of this nature might make Whyte Ave smell better from the point of view of the local residents but it will hardly relieve them of the burden of negotiating the gauntlet of panhandlers or reduce the number of bike thefts.

“A really good basket for the homeless would have warm socks and a bag of loose change,” I said.

“That’s cold,” he said.

“That’s real,” I replied. “Where are they going to brush their teeth anyway? The transit station?”

They do, by the way, use the washrooms at the transit stations. At the transit station closest to the Fort, usually only one of the two washrooms are open on any given day and the line up of homeless washing up every morning pretty much discourages all but the most desperate commuters from bothering to queue up. Although I will say that most of the homeless men are pretty nice about letting you line cut because they aren’t in any hurry.

Fast food places and groceries are also well-known venues for hygiene for the homeless. The washroom at the local Safeway is a place best avoided in the few hours after it opens until someone from the store has a moment to get in there and clean.

“Maybe they can trade the toothpaste with a homeless family for something more useful?” I added.

“So you are saying that giving toothpaste to the homeless is not the best choice?”

“Well, it’s a veiled judgement and unless one can it eat or sell it on some oral hygiene driven black market, I can’t see the point.”

“The homeless deserve good teeth too,” he reminded me.

“On Maslow’s hierarchy I think good teeth fall low on the priority scale when weighed against long underwear and a shopping cart from Wal-Mart with a decent set of wheels on it.”

“We should be giving them shopping carts?

“Or bikes with baskets,” I said. “But I still think just a big jar of loose change would make the day of a homeless guy most of all.”

He shook his head, “I’ll pass your thoughts along to the committee.”

Trouble with these charity committees is that they are headed by people for whom being homeless is only a theory that they deal with once a year.

“What would I want if I were homeless?”

Toothpaste, of course. Something with tartar control and a whitener.

Huh?

As we are already into fall up here, I would want cold weather accessories. Thermal socks? Or toothpaste? Not even really a tough call.

And change. Toonies or Loonies preferably but smaller stuff buys things too.

But they would just spend that on booze or drugs.

Sure, but they eat too. Just like we do, and you can’t barter with toothpaste at Tim Horton’s or McDonald’s.

All week Rob has been bumming coinage and paper off me because like the Queen, he never bothers with hard currency unless forced. We’ve contributed a fair bit to this year’s charity efforts at his company. The toothpaste is the only thing that rankled, however, as it feels like money that might as well have been put to the flame. I just have visions of perfectly good tubes of it being summarily dumped in one of the many trash receptacles that line the River Valley path system.

But, no one asked me, so I scouted out a couple of multi-packs of Colgate, and Rob dutifully turned them in.

It doesn’t feel like an accomplishment.

The Tropics of Canada


Heat Wave (comics)

Heat Wave (comics) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One doesn’t normally associate the Great White North with wilting scorched-earth heatwaves, but it happens. Even the more northern edges of Canadian civilization experience sun blistering summer weather.

When I first moved to Alberta five years ago, my husband, Rob, assured me that summers were milder than the soggy aired Iowa sauna summers I was accustomed to hibernating out in my mostly climate controlled existence in Iowa.

Due to sinus issues and a hyper-active immune system, I hopped from one hermetically sealed zone to another from early April until sometime in October. My house, vehicle, the school I taught at, the grocery, the mall, Target – basically anywhere I frequented was chilled and dehumidified to a tolerable level.

But in this neck of Canada, things are different. Public spaces are likely to have a/c, but private homes aren’t. Our house, which was built over sixty years ago, is one such climate controlled free zone. After having a/c since 1997, I was unprepared for the transition back to the days of yore.

As a child, we had one window unit in our kitchen, which Dad only purchased the summer my younger sister DNOS suffered from some heat related malady that scared he and Mom enough to cave in on the a/c question a little bit. My family didn’t go the full central air route until I’d left home for university. So while my siblings began to lose their ability to tolerate heat, I was steadily building my heat tolerance muscles in the sweltering dorms of Iowa City. Though the apartments I would live in after had this or that wall unit, it was only enough to take the sweat off and not really enough to cool unless one was willing to remaining completely motionless.

It wasn’t until I bought my first home in 1997 that I had central air and I never looked back.

Perhaps because Rob promised me a cooler summer, the weather in 2007 was warmer and more humid than normal. In fact, July and August rolled one heat wave into another, pounding my sinuses and kicking up my faux asthma enough that my poor husband was apologizing to me almost daily for relocating me in the Canadian version of hell.

It was two summers later though that finally prompted him to invest in an air conditioner for the bedrooms, and a prolonged heat wave the summer after saw the purchase of two more window units and the trade up from unrefrigerated tent trailer to a/c equipped holiday trailer.

Still, no central air.

Our current ungodly hot wave of sun-baked oppression sent us packing to the holiday trailer to sleep and has spurred talk of “putting in central air when we replace the furnace next year”.

I have a love/hate thing with heat. My inner Iowa girl is offended by cool summers. If it’s July or August, it should be hot. There has to be something to differentiate summer from winter, spring and most of the fall up here. And I truly miss spring, which we don’t have despite what the calendar might say about it.

But, even though I don’t wilt like the native-born (and Dee, who has lost all tolerance for heat over the last five years), I react more vigorously to humidity than I used to. Something to do with the fact that for the most part, it is super dry here and I just am losing the little ability I had to cope in the first place. So, though I like warm and even very warm, the sinus swelling and pain that goes along with it, I can no longer deal with.

Which brings me back to conditioned air.

Rob spent all the last weekend plus foolishly risking heat stroke up on our roof. His sense of  reno timing is, as always, impeccably flawed. I don’t know how he does it, but he nearly always manages to pick the worst weather or time period for starting really big projects. It has to be a gift.

So there he was, roofing in 32C full on sunshine, which unbelievably was an improvement over the pouring rain of the weekend before which left our dining room and back porch drenched and dripping. Roofing meant no time to install the air conditioners and a retreat to the trailer each night because the upstairs was too hot to even draw a breath in let alone find a good night’s sleep.

Tuesday evening brought a bit of relief to the main floor when Rob designed a new window rig for the downstairs unit but even by Wednesday afternoon, it was still 24C on the main floor and stifling upstairs. Cooler temps are on next week’s horizon but the projection is for more heat and higher than normal temps as the summer wears on.

I don’t know that I am entirely sold on the reasons why the climates across the globe are shifting. A good explanation is likely still beyond our scientific capacity to explain and there is too much nonsense from either extreme end of the debate for anyone to be able to seriously assess the situation. Regardless, climate is changing and where it will finally settle is a question that is probably not knowable or even preventable at this point. The arguments are silly and pointless. It doesn’t matter why because we have no way to stop it anymore even if we understood the mechanisms causing it. Blame and denial aren’t helpful and anything that isn’t geared to preparing to adapt is a waste of time, money and effort.

Rob thinks that if we stay put we will eventually live in quite a moderate climate. And if by “moderate”, he means “like Iowa” then we might have to consider Nunavut someday.

Dating While Widowed: Gotta Love Feedback


Engraving showing a recently widowed Hindu wom...

Image via Wikipedia

Everyone’s a critic. Usually  harsh and certainly agenda minded. And mostly in the moment with just the barest idea of the big picture because critics generally seize on one post (that they didn’t read very well because apparently it’s hard to see though the colour red).

On a follow-up post to one I wrote about widowed who play the widow card while dating, I received a scathing take that was part personal venting and part assumption that perhaps I was some non-widowed person spouting off on things about which I knew nothing.

A very grouchy rebuttal that got quite a viewing on Facebook where someone had linked it for the private flaming fun of others no doubt, but given the confusion it provoked and because I am not one to just sit at the keyboard and be spanked by someone who is labouring under more than a few misconceptions, it bears a reposting all its own.

Annie,

I can appreciate your point of view but I compleltely disagree with you. I do like Dan’s comment very much and I think he/she (A little confused by gender as the name is Dan but mentions late husband) hit the nail on the head.

Okay, I had to chuckle. Sorry. I appreciate your pov but you are an idiot? And Dan is a gay man – just to clarify – who wrote a beautiful blog on grieving and moving on. You should check it out.

I read your bio and I see no qualifications for conseling or psychology or any credentials whatsover. So this is just opinion. The sampling, as you mention is not appropriate. Think about this. Who would even read this and comment? Those you view this the same way. The happy couples who made this work wouldn’t even bother to google it. You know why? Because there is no playbook for this. We are all unique.

In the widowosphere, there are only those who have “been there” possibly “done that” and I am fairly certain that I referred to the post you objected to as “advice”. My “sampling” as you call it includes widowed of both genders and those who date and/or are married to widowed and that includes widowed remarried to widowed, which includes me and my husband. I also have bothered to read the latest research by George Bonanno and not just steep myself in anecdote or the rather shoddy pseudo-science of Kubler-Ross on which much of widow/grief culture is based. But, you are correct in that I have no formal trainingg – no more than just about everyone else who claims to be “helping” widowed or those who date them.

One thing more, however, I don’t claim to be helping. I am just writing what I have observed over the last six years. Take it. Leave it. But don’t whine at me about it. I make the assumption (optimistically to be sure) that anyone who reads my blog is brighter than a tree stump and can think for his/herself and filter the little bit of information I share through their own experiences and common sense (the latter of which my husband keeps trying to tell me isn’t all that common).

You need to take responsibility for your posts and the harm it may do. There is already ALOT of misinformation on this subject written by well meaning individuals, even widowers. But they do what everyone does with this issue. They bring their own playbook and act like it is THE playbook. Sorry, but neither you nor Abel Keogh know nothing of me or my journey.

I am pretty sure that no one was harmed in the writing of this blog, but I will say that there are a lot of women, and a few men out there, who have been harmed by the widowed they date because the widowsphere –  in the form of message boards and blogs and invites to retreats/camps/conventions –  spouts off like it has a playbook. Widowed without real-time resources, and who are very vulnerable in the first little while, pick up more than a few erroneous messages and act upon them as though they were gospel, but I am sure you’ve made the rounds and chastised the others too, right? I mean, I am sure you didn’t single me out because I have a different opinion than you do about personal responsibility and the fact that as grown ups we should be setting examples for our children by teaching them that bad things happen but that doesn’t give us leave to treat others with contempt or expect them to  feel as though their feelings are less significant than our own. Or maybe you did.

You assume that widowers are manipulative who have no feelings of their own. Why should we be respectful of the new love’s feelings, when obviously they want us to “bury” ours? How is that a successful partnership? How is that building trust to be who we are?

No, I don’t make that assumption. Sorry, but you are off base. Widowed are not manipulative because they are widowed. People resort to behavior that is manipulative because that’s what they have always done in terms of relationships and being widowed just gives them another tool to use. I have been fairly consistent with my opinion on this point as anyone who reads much of my blog can tell you. Widowhood doesn’t make assholes out of people who weren’t, but if you had a tendency towards using emotional “cards” to gain the upper hand before, widow culture sadly encourages you to continue doing that. Grief is no excuse for using people or ignoring other people’s feelings in favor of your own. You are ready to date when you are ready to let go of the idea that your grief trumps ALL. If you can’t put your new partner’s wants, needs and feelings as paramount – you aren’t ready.

Oh, but what about MY needs? What about them? I have read many a story of women and men who have been patient and kind and understanding only to find out that their widowed boy/girlfriend expected that to be the norm forever. Making love under pictures of the late spouse? Their toothbrushes on the vanity? Living out of totes so the late spouse can have closet space? Come on. Really? And that’s what I am talking about here and I think you know that.

We have alot to offer and it shouldn’t come at the expense of who we are. Yes, we are alot to handle. I will give you that. We come with issues. But so do divorced people. So do abused women? Why are we so different?

Issues. We are a society that loves our issues, which is why many of us have such drama fraught relationships. Widowhood is not a couple’s activity. I don’t expect my husband to be my grief counselor. Our relationship is about us. Right now. Any baggage you drag into the mix from the past is going to clutter and ultimately obscure the new relationship. Again, you are ready to date when you ave dealt with your own past on your own and can come to a new person without needing space and breaks and time and patience.

It’s perfectly okay to tell a new person that you want to simply date. Just hang out. Have fun. You can even throw casual sex into the mix if you are ready for that. But don’t send mixed signals. Don’t lead your new partner on by saying one thing and doing another. If you are ready to explore serious, be damn serious about it and be goddamn sure. Otherwise, keep it light and make sure your words and actions match up; that way any misunderstanding is on his/her part and not yours.

And widowed are not a lot to handle. From where does this fallacy come? There is nothing special about being widowed. It’s a traumatic event to be sure but if it defines you, you are not ready to date. We should come to new relationships ready to be in the now and plan/work towards a new future. Going into the dating arena believing that you are an “issue ridden too much to handle head-case” is like a TLC reality show in the making and that’s nothing to brag about.

My adivce to anyone considering a relationship with a widow/widower is do NOT try to make us forget who we are, who we loved, and how we got here. If you truly love us, you would embrace our lost love as much as we do. Because that person, that loss, that event made us the person you supposedly love. Think about it.

I agree with you. I cringe a bit when I read about women/men who really think that a late spouse is like a photo album or yearbook that can be tucked in the back of a closet. It doesn’t work quite like that. However, a late spouse cannot be part of a new relationship. Even an emotional threesome is not going to work in the long run, and why would anyone want to make a new love feel like a second choice? Second should just be chronological, don’t you think?

My husband’s late wife, Shelley, had a role in the man he is today, but who he is today is my husband. While I can and have acknowledged her, I am not sharing him with her. Our marriage is our marriage. Our life is now. She has her place and I have mine. It’s a duality that is hard for non-widowed to understand and even some widowed don’t truly get it, but it’s a perspective that needs to be mastered if one is to be happily mated again. And the success or failure, rightly or wrongly, falls more on the shoulders of the widowed mate. Sucks to be us? I wouldn’t agree. It’s a great privilege to be allowed to love another person fully and with a whole heart. If I have learned anything about love at all from my late husband, it is this and I don’t intend that my husband now should ever feel that he is second or living in a shadow. If that were to be the case then I learned nothing.

The whole picture thing still baffles me. I have two young kids who need to remember their mom. If a woman cannot accept that, fine. She’s not the woman for me because in essence, she is rejecting me. And I am WAY too confident to be bullied into accepting a rejection of who I am.

Depending on the age of the children and the pictures, those memories are largely yours. I have a three daughters. Two are in their late twenties and have plenty of memories of their mother. Neither their Dad nor I need to keep a lit flame for them. They are old enough to do that themselves. The youngest daughter has no memories of her late dad because she was just three when he died. As far as she is concerned, her dad is my husband and my trying to foster a relationship between her and a dead man serves her no purpose. A memory can’t love her or teach her to ride a bike.  A memory doesn’t carry her in from the truck when she is tired or rub her back when she can’t fall asleep. That’s my feelings on the subject. You are welcome to do whatever you like with your own children, but I am not going to saddle my children with my grief in the guise of pretending to keep memories alive for them.

My wife IS apart of me an always will be. You seem to treat our loss like much of America treats thier marriages… as disposable. Ask yourselves this. Would you want your SO to put away pictures of their late father or mother? Why is this different? If you feel that you are a replacement, well..maybe it’s time to take a look in the mirror! More importantly, who is the one who is insecure? If you are offended by a piece of paper with an image on it, perhaps you need to look at your OWN insecurities. It’s just an image of a time in our life. Much like a high school photo.

You don’t know how I treat my loss because I choose not to wear my loss on my sleeve all that often. And I am a huge believer in marriage. Anyone who knows or even just follows me knows that.

Let’s not use the dead mother/father/child straw man argument. Apples and oranges might make a tasty glass of juice but there are different kinds of love and that’s just a fact. But people who date widowed folks are not offended by photos, however over time, they want to be loved more than the widowed person loves the photo or the urn or the bathrobe on the hook in the closet. Can you imagine how it would feel to think that the person you loved, and were intimate with, valued a photo more than they did you? To feel like you could never measure up to the urn on the mantel? To have her wedding photos staring at you every time you sat down to watch television? To be constantly excluded from family gatherings because her mother or the eldest daughter “just couldn’t handle it”? Let’s get a bit of perspective, shall we and really look at the reality of what many people who date widowed folk endure months or even years into a relationship.

Photos can rest in books or on screen savers, but frankly, my husband is more important to me than a photo of my late husband (who was the son of a young widow himself and often told me that he’d be greatly disappointed in me if I let his memory stand in the way of my living and loving again – fyi).

When you cling to a late spouse’s things or photos, you give off vibes of not being ready – usually because you aren’t. Or of perhaps simply using a new person to satisfy physical or superficial emotional needs. It’s hurtful whether you want to acknowledge it or no.

By all means, keep and display and do homage as much as you like, but don’t be surprised when that hurts someone. We are human beings with feelings. Being ready to date means being ready to handle the putting away of late love. I can’t change that reality just because it rankles you and neither can you.

I tell every woman I date this:

“I still love my late wife and I always will. She is apart of me and I will honor her if for no other sake than that of her childrens. That doesn’t mean I cannot love you just as much if not more. But If you cannot handle that, let’s just be friends.”

Okay, this is a man not understanding how women think/work thing. You say that and what a woman hears is this. “I was a great husband and someday I will be just as great a husband to you if you are just patient and understanding.”

Yes, that is exactly what she hears. Women NEVER take men at their word. Huge mistake. I preach against it often. But it is a fact.

They also don’t pay attention to actions. Leaving pictures up. Not changing the house much. Making sure that children don’t forget their mother to the point that no other woman will ever be accepted. Loud actions that clearly say that a man is not now and might not ever be ready to do more than just date for superficial reasons. Women? They see devotion and think that time, love and understanding will one day win over that devotion to themselves.

Beginning to understand why I write what I do?

The fact is that we can love just like anyone else, but with a different viewpoint. An older widower who is happily married used the analogy of loving your second child just as much as the first. You think you can’t, but you do. Your heart grows to hold more love and doesn’t displace the love you have.

For the record, I hate the second child analogy because the love a parent bears for a child is not the same kind of love we share with a spouse/lover. In fact, this analogy creeps me out a bit. I do agree that we are capable of loving again but love is love whether it’s the first or 12th time. If you don’t feel the same thrill and urgent need to be with someone new – do both of you a favor and step back.

I’m sorry, divorce is NOT the same as death. It just isn’t. Any comparison is futile and irresponsible. There was no decision. There wasn’t a choice. They did not leave us of their own free will nor did we leave them. Apples and oranges. Is their grief in divorce? I would assume so.But I am not arrogant enough to project my PLAYBOOK on theirs. Please have the courtesy to do the same.

I have NEVER said that divorce is the same thing as being widowed.

The guy who wrote that sounds like a spurned lover and this had nothing to dow with a widow/widower. Sour grapes. The fact that she was a widow has nothing to do with it. Yes, assholes can become widows/widowers too. But quit drawing a parallel between who they are and their loss. The woman sounds like a piece of work REGARDLESS of her marital status!

The man who wrote that was hurt. Very hurt. And though his observations rise from that hurt, I have read them over and over  in other venues to the point where much of it is almost cliché. Women take longer to be ready to date again and the widow culture falsely encourages them to look for men who are okay being second best, but widowhood doesn’t turn a genuinely nice person into a selfish drama queen and I am certain I made that point.

With all of that said I will concede some points I have learned in my journey. NOTE: These are not hard and fast rules people. I’m not as arrogant as some when it comes to this. I can only relate my own personal experience.

Um, you are just as arrogant as anyone who puts words to keys. Sorry. If we didn’t think we had something valuable to share, we wouldn’t bother. If that is arrogance then so be it.

1) Comparisons are bad, I agree. it is time to focus on where you are going with the person you are with, not where you have been. BUT, if those past experiences help your new SO understand why you feel a certain way, it should be just fine to talk about them.

Agree and sort of agree – no one wants to spend a date listening to you talk about the last person you loved regardless.

2) Wedding pics…yes, in a shared home I do not think they are appropriate. I BELIEVE the walls should be plastered with pics of you and your new love. But that doesn’t mean you cannot have pics of who you are and how you got there. Get a grip people! WOW! But I do know widows/widowers that have EVEN made those old wedding photo’s work in their new homes. How do you explain that?

Not being much for decorating my walls with anything, I don’t really get the need some have to plaster anything with photos. I have albums, physical and virtual, and no one argues against a few family shots but the wedding pics? Lovey photos? Really? Why would you do that to someone you love now? I don’t agree that we need the equivalent of a Facebook timeline on our living room wall in order for the world to know who we are – unless of course, we are so unsure of who we are that we need that visual evidence for ourselves.

For those looking to date a widow or widower. I urge you to make your own decisions and not listen to this. Advice is good, but hard and fast rules are not. We are all unique and there is no playbook for this. You will know when it’s right…and you will know when it’s wrong. Trust yourselves.

Anyone who takes advice from a blog as “hard and fast” without applying a bit of common sense is beyond anyone’s help. jmo. Bit condescending of you to think that is the case.

Peace.

Hope you find some as well.