Today Mike and I are writing together about a topic that our Friday writer Kelley asked about recently. Most people assume it is easier to be in a relationship with another widowed person when you are widowed. And it's true, a lot of things are simplified when you understand each other's loss. Kelley was curious to know what some of the specific challenges are when you have two widowed people in a relationship, so we thought we'd write a few posts on the topic...
The first thing I thought of in relation to this question is that your widow card is basically canceled out. There is no way to leverage that card to your advantage during a fight when your partner has been through exactly as horrible of a loss too. I do know from others who have dated or married someone non-widowed, that it’s extremely tempting to use that widow card to trump their arguments and opinions. When I was with Drew, there were times that I used my “dead parents card” to trump him in fights or conjure up some extra pity and attention for myself. They aren’t proud moments, but I think it’s a very normal temptation to want to use victim tactics when you’ve been through a lot.
That doesn’t work in a relationship with two widowed people. Even at times when we do try to lay down the widow card to trump each other, it doesn't really fly. We both have experienced losses in very different ways that are unfathomable to the other person… so there’s no hiding behind trump cards to manipulate a situation in our favor.
Well, I made it through the long three days of Mike being out of town for work the other week. He made sure to text or call at every turn so that I knew he was safe - which helped so much to keep the panic at bay a bit. So no, he didn't die. Much to my relief. Although I will say, the whole ordeal of having to cope with my new person on a work trip after my previous person died on one, has stirred up a lot. In fact, Mike is currently fixing my car and as I watch him underneath 3000+ lbs of metal, the thoughts just come again. Before I know it I’m imagining the entire thing crashing down on him and me, standing there, not knowing what to do. Or what if it crashes down on him and kills him instantly, and there I am, standing there, my whole world flipped upside down again. Only this time I have a kid and no job. How will I take care of her? How will I get a job to pay for everything? There goes my mind... off on it's own horrific adventure. Although this is all highly unlikely, you all know, that doesn’t stop the stories in my head, or the physical reaction.
I wish I could do something about this. I wish I could go back to not knowing what that would be like for my partner to die suddenly and instantly have my entire future taken away. Most of all, I wish my body didn’t remember the trauma. Seven years later, the thoughts, feelings, and sensations are quieter though. Or at least, I have gotten much better at calming myself and just allowing it to mildly be there.Read more
So, Sarah wrote last week about my leaving for a work trip. It was the first time I have done so since we’ve met. Sure, I’ve left for a day or two here and there to go backpacking, but being required by my job to board a jet to Chicago for three days is, quite obviously, a bit more of a trigger for her. Especially when it’s a trigger she hasn’t experienced in the seven years since Drew’s death on a work trip.
I get it. I know it sucked for her for me to be gone (for the record, I’m home safe and sound), but I can never feel what she feels. She’s in New York, visiting her sister for the past few days. While I miss her, and want to make sure she’s safe, it’s not and never has been a “please don’t die” issue for me.
Here’s the thing. I didn’t have a sudden loss. What I had was long expected. Megan’s death took years. If I was going to have a trigger or anxiety, it would likely be more when Sarah is sick or, god forbid, hospitalized for any reason. Just a little 6 hour drive to New York? That’s simply not a trigger for me.Read more
Today is Sarah’s birthday. Not Megan’s, not Drew’s. It’s not Mother or Father’s day, or an anniversary. It’s a day where the focus is squarely on her, and not shared with those who are no longer here. Or, at least it’s not supposed to be.
The rub of it is that I’m a widower. Sarah’s a widow. Damn near every experience we have brings thoughts of Megan and/ or Drew in some way. It could be a significant, life-changing experience like becoming engaged, or some minor thing that I do on a random Tuesday that reminds Sarah of something similar that Drew did. Sarah even mentioning wanting to change the color of a wall for the 400th time always reminds me of Megan doing the same thing.
So, in a roundabout way, I tend to think of Megan quite a bit on Sarah’s birthday, and I’m sure she thinks of Drew on mine. They are both just as much a part of us as they were in life, albeit not actively participating and interacting, for obvious reasons.
It’s exactly the way it should be.Read more
Today is a beginning of sorts. For the past few years, Mike and I have written for Soaring Spirits on separate days and will be moving to sharing Sundays now. For anyone who doesn’t know our story, we are both widowed and now engaged to one another. We met in Tampa at Camp Widow in 2015 and have been dating since. The idea to share a day seemed like a good one… a way for us to share both the similarities and differences in our losses as well as what our experience has been like in finding love again - both the good and the hard stuff. Some weeks we will be writing together, and other weeks we will write individual posts. I think this has the potential to teach us more about each other, as well as sharing the things we’re learning along the way
With that said, this first shared post is from a suggestion of another widowed friend. She is newly dating and expressed to me that she wondered if being engaged was harder for Mike or for me. I thought this was a great question. I’ll share my feelings, and Mike’s will follow mine...Read more
Some of you who read here often might know that our Tuesday writer Mike and I are both widowed and in a relationship together. For the past few years, often times we are found to be writing about finding love again after being widowed and what it’s like to be in a new relationship as widowed people - both the good stuff and the hard stuff about it.
This past week, Mike wrote a goodbye post of sorts, and also a hello post. In this post, he shared that, starting this next week, he will be stepping down from being the Tuesday writer to let someone new step in.
Instead of leaving the blog though, Mike is joining me on Sundays now, where we will write together.Read more
Since the spring of 2015, I have written here every Tuesday (well, “most” every Tuesday). I’ve shared my story from just a few months after losing Megan, to now. Having four plus years of what can only amount to a public “journal” has been both surreal and incredibly healing.
Oftentimes, it’s hard to recall just how “raw” I felt in that first year or so, or how confused I was about life. Whether I was doing the right things, or raising Shelby correctly, or honoring Megan’s legacy. I certainly never imagined I’d be writing this post, years later.
I felt that sharing my story here was a phase. That after a year or so, I wouldn’t have anything to discuss any further, or that I would burn out and simply wish to go silent. There have also been numerous times that I wanted to share about my new partner and current fiance, but second-guessed the subject, not wanting to feel as if I was unrelatable to the thousands of widows and widowers that either have no desire to be with another person, or have dipped their toes into the dating world, only to find that nobody even remotely compares to “their person”.
I write today to state that this “phase” is coming to an end of sorts.Read more
Though Shelby started middle school last year, entering the 6th grade, the jump into 7th is more significant to me. In my own schooling, the seventh grade is when I was no longer an “elementary” student. I moved on to a new school, new friends, changing classrooms, more advanced subjects, and so on.
Shelby is doing the same this year. Not only that, she will be turning thirteen soon...officially a “teenager”. She’s already formed her own tastes in music, books, activities, foods, and hobbies. She’s gone through a change in “best friends” in the past year. She’s become more independent, responsible, opinionated, and dare I say, outgoing. Recently, she started her….well, you know.
All without Megan.Read more
Mike and I are both widowed. Which means that there are two days every year that are very specific to our relationship. Two days every year that most couples don’t have, nor have they probably ever considered. These two days are extremely special, but hard. And each year as they approach, in June and in August, we’re not exactly sure what to do with them or how each other will be feeling. After all, these two days are in celebration of a beautiful beginning with someone else, not our beginning with each other.
These two days are hard, and complex, and beautiful. Usually, we go out to dinner on those two days together. Sometimes it’s very joyful and full of love and laughter. Other years, it’s hard. And no matter how great our meal is or our love for each other, nothing removes the sting of why we are there. Or why we are together in the first place. And we never know from year to year which way it will be.
Just last week was Mike’s anniversary with Megan. We went out to dinner to one of her favorite steak houses. And it was lovely and it was hard all at once. The kind of hard I’ve come to know well since loving someone that is widowed. The kind of hard that often times lies under the surface of things. As I sit across from him in the dimly lit restaurant, I can feel it pumping through his veins - entirely unbeknownst to anyone else in the room.Read more
I’ve been in Texas on vacation for a few weeks, hence my absence here. I have however been waiting to share something very special that happened while we were down there. If you’re new here, I lost my fiance Drew 7 years ago in a crash. I am now engaged to a widower, Mike, and we have this new little blended family together with his daughter Shelby. When we go back to Texas for visits, we are usually visiting all of my friends and also, Drew’s family. We stay with them for usually half the trip. In fact, we sleep in Drew's bedroom, which weirdly enough isn't ever weird at all.
Since day one they have loved me as part of their own family. The week after Drew died, his mom and I were sitting together hugging and crying and she told me that when the day comes that I am with someone new, she would be honored to be the Mother of the Bride. Yeah, I cried a lot.
Since I lost my own mom when I was nine, these words have continued to be some of the most memorable of my life. They told me so much about the heart of this woman, who was enduring the worst shock and pain of losing her son - her firstborn - only a week before. It told me that she felt the same way I did, that she and I were each other’s connection to him and we were never letting that go. Over time, it has grown into so much more.
It is no surprise then, that when Mike proposed to me (At Drew's parents' house on Christmas Eve, which I wrote about here), she was the one and only person I could imagine having with me to go dress shopping. So, while Mike, Shelby and I were down in Texas, Drew’s mom and I went out one afternoon together to go wedding dress shopping. We thought initially we’d just see what’s out there, not expecting to find THE one. What unfolded was one of the most beautifully bittersweet and incredibly surreal moments of my life.Read more