This Halloween season I was surprised to see that a local store selling large, white pumpkins albeit under the clever name of “ghost pumpkins.” Though I’ve seen stores selling small white pumpkins from time-to-time, this was the first times since I lived in Bulgaria that I’ve seen such big ones. (In Bulgaria, all the pumpkins are white. Orange pumpkins are unheard of.)
The kids weren’t too up on the white pumpkins so we ended up getting the traditional orange ones. Now I’m regretting that decision not to buy one. At the very least it would have been fun to harvest the seeds and grow a couple of plants next year. Besides, after looking online, white pumpkins offer some unique decorating possibilities that wouldn’t look good on orange ones.
Speaking of Bulgaria, apparently Halloween has taken off in popularity over there. Recently I was talking to someone who just returned from there and he said that it common to see kids dress up and go around trick-or-treating and young adults attending Halloween parties. Older people still aren’t in to it. This article is a few years old but it pretty much mirrors whatI was told about Halloween in Bulgaria.
When I lived there, no one even knew what Halloween was. We started a couple of Halloween parties but the Bulgarians who did attend thought it was a silly holiday. I wish I knew what caused the popularity of it to take off. At least the kids are dressing up.
But they also do Halloween fireworks.
And have dance to traditional Bulgarian music at their Halloween parties.
I’ll be taking Jack Sparrow, Captain Rex, a purple fairy, and a skunk out trick-or-treating tonight. I’m glad the kids are excited and the weather will be warm. Hope you all enjoy your Halloween events too.
Over the weekend I got an email from a reader asking if she could write a guest Widower Wednesday column. She pitched a good idea so you’ll be seeing her post in a couple of weeks. Her email got me thinking and I’ve decided to temporarily open up my email box to queries from those who would like to contribute a WW column. It could simply be sharing your story (good or bad and what you learned from it), a guest column on a WW topic of your choice, or a response to a previous WW column I wrote. If you’re interestedemail me a short queryand let me know what you want to share. As long as you have something worth saying, I’m happy to give you the green light to write something that will appear in a future column.
When I was dating Jennifer (my first relationship after Krista’s death) something about the relationship never felt exactly right. I remember going home one night wondering why, among other things, that Jennifer didn’t make my heart flutter the way Krista did. But since we started dating a few months after I became a widower I ignored my feelings. I thought that my feelings would change once more time had passed and my heart had more time to heal. It wasn’t until started dating Marathon Girl that I realized that nagging feelings about Jennifer and our relationship were spot on. However, since I had never been a widower before, I made up reasons to ignore the promptings I felt every time I examined my relationship with Jennifer.
I tell this story because one of the patterns I’ve noticed in the emails I receive from GOWs and WOWs is that they often have similar gut feelings about their relationship, or at least one aspect of it, and are looking for some guidance whether or not their gut feeling is accurate. About 95 percent of the time, their gut feelings are spot on. However, because they’ve never dated a widower before they’re unsure whether or not they’re making a mountain out of a molehill or if they should even listen to their internal promptings.
A good way to figure out if there really is something behind your gut feelings is to ask yourself if you would have the same concerns if you were dating a single or divorced man. Another tip is to find a quiet spot where you can sit and think undisturbed for a period of time and run the feeling through your mind. A third way is to talk to a friend or family member whose opinion you trust and see what they have to say about your concerns. (Or These can help give you the perspective you need to decide whether there really is a problem.
So today’s recommendation is to always listen to your gut. If you feel there’s something wrong with the way the widower is treating you or the relationship in general, there’s probably is a problem. This doesn’t mean the issue can’t be resolved and solved but it does man you need to take a step back and examine the situation. In the end you’ll have to decide whether to listen to your gut, but simply ignoring it and not doing the necessary legwork to know whether or not your concern is valid is inviting disaster.
I would have saved a lot of pain and heartache for both Jennifer and myself had I listened to my gut all those years ago. Most people have a very good sense when something isn’t right in a relationship—even if they can’t put their finger on exactly what it is. Ignore your gut feelings at your own peril.
Animal welfare groups accuse Ukrainian authorities of using illegal and inhumane methods of killing stray dogs that cause long, agonizing deaths. They say dogs are often poisoned or injected with banned substances as officials rush to clear streets ahead of the Euro 2012 soccer championship next summer.
Euro 2012 organizers deny any involvement in a stray eradication campaign.
Full official statistics are hard to come by, but figures and estimates provided to The Associated Press by authorities in the Euro 2012 host cities of Kiev, Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lviv show more than 9,000 dogs have been put to death over the past year. Animal protection groups believe the number is far higher.
“It’s a slaughterhouse,” said Asya Serpinska, head of the Ukrainian Association of Animal Protection Organizations. “We are convinced that there is an unofficial order to purge Euro cities of stray animals so that, God forbid, some stray dog doesn’t bite some foreigner.”
Ukraine has a large stray dog population, estimated at tens of thousands in some cities. The dogs, often running in packs, can be seen on streets, in parks and even children’s playgrounds. Nearly 3,000 people reported being bitten by stray dogs last year in Kiev and about 1,900 in Kharkiv, according to city officials.
On paper, officials have embraced the internationally accepted practice of sterilizing strays, then releasing them into areas where they pose no public threat, placing them in shelters or finding them homes. Sick or aggressive dogs are humanely euthanized.
But in reality, activists contend, a stray dog handled by authorities has little chance of survival. The only question, they say, is how much it will suffer before it dies. Shelters are virtually nonexistent, pet adoption unpopular and sterilization costly; most dogs are simply put down, they say.
“It’s capture and kill,” said John Ruane of Naturewatch, a British-based animal welfare group that monitors the situation in Ukraine. “It’s just barbaric.”
When I lived in Bulgaria, it wasn’t uncommon to see packs of stay dogs roaming the streets of Sofia. (It wasn’t as bad in smaller cities but still existed.) It seemed that every neighborhood had at least one or two packs of dogs that would roam the streets looking for something to eat. When I lived in an area called Lozenets, the pack lived under a balcony of a nearby apartment building. While I lived there one of the dogs gave birth to a litter of six puppies.
The dogs were anything but aggressive. If they did approach you, their heads would be down and you could tell by the skittish way they walked that they were on edge. All you had to do was raise your hand and pretend you were throwing a rock and the dogs would scatter. And they were so hungry they’d eat just about anything. Sometimes if the pack was congregating near our apartment building, we’d drop chunks of stale bread from our apartment five stories up. The dogs would woof it down like we had just thrown them pieces of raw meat. As far as I could tell, there was never any effort made by the city to round them up. Animal shelters in that part of the world were unheard of.
While I don’t know how the packs of stray dogs in the Ukraine are different than their counterparts in Bulgaria, I don’t understand why animal rights activists are upset that the dogs are being killed. While I don’t condone the inhumane methods of killing stray dogs mentioned in the article, having packs of dogs run wild on the streets isn’t good for anyone. The dogs in Sofia were filthy, disease ridden, and looked like they were constantly starving. I don’t see why they be treated any better in the Ukraine. Simply sterilizing strays and releasing them “into areas where they pose no public threat” like the animal rights activists want just stops them from reproducing. It does nothing to feed or shelter the animals. Releasing serialized animals and letting them fend for themselves doesn’t strike me as being that humane.
Sadly, like Bulgaria, it appears the stay dog problem is more of a cultural issue than anything. Unless Ukrainians are willing to invest in real animal shelters and humanly euthanize the dogs, it’s going to return and persist long after Euro 2012 is over.
In the Indian state of Kerala, the Kerala Women’s Code Bill proposes imposing birth-control measures to decrease population growth. Enforcement of this bill would include fines or three months in jail for parents who have more than two children. Any additional child would not be eligible for government services such as health and education services. In addition, free and medically safe abortions and contraceptives would be provided at government facilities.
The World of The Third:
In 2065 it’s illegal to have more than two children. Parents who have a third child without a proper credit face fines and jail time as well has higher taxes. Free birth control is available at all government facilities and is mandatory after the birth of a second child.
Note: As many of you know the order for personalized copies of Dating a Widower have overwhelmed supply. My latest shipment of books has finally arrived and all orders have now been fulfilled. Thanks to everyone for your patience. This time I ordered enough extra copies to meet deman for the next several weeks so if you order one, it will ship within 48 hours.
From the email inbox comes the following:
I’ve been dating a widower for a couple months now. I recently learned that while his wife as on her deathbed he was posting online ads soliciting sex. After her death he “dated” a few high-end escorts. He said he was grieving, lonely, and didn’t want a relationship. The other day it came to my attention that during our relationship he has sought out other escorts though I don’t know if he’s met up with any. Is this normal grieving widower behavior? He’s a great guy and very generous. I am hesitant to confront him but am very concerned for my physical health. Any ideas on how to bring this up?
No, soliciting prostitutes not normal grieving widower behavior. I know a lot of widowers and to my knowledge none of them have had to pay women for sex. They may have rushed into relationships before they were to get serious, but they weren’t out throwing money high end escorts or paying $20 street hookers on some seedy part of town either. Your BFs thing for hookers has nothing to do with grief and everything to do with sex. He’s using grief to justify his actions.
The fact that he cheated on his dying wife and might be cheating on you makes me think that this isn’t something he’s just been doing recently. He’s probably been soliciting sex a long before his wife got sick. Odds are he’ll continue to solicit sex (and probably meet up with them occasionally) even if becomes “serious” with you. The question for you is would you tolerate this kind of behavior from a guy who was single or divorced? If not, why are you putting up with it now?
Finally, high class escorts can carry the same STDs as street hookers. By tolerating this behavior you’re putting your physical health at risk every time you sleep with him. So unless you want to get an STD, or something worse, stop sleeping with him immediately. The widower may be a great guy in lots of other ways, but is getting the latest strain of something really worth it?
So how do you broach the subject? Confront him with whatever evidence you have. Don’t beat around the bush. Just be sure your stuff is packed up ahead of time. Odds are he’ll admit his misdeeds and promise to change but all cads are good at acting contrite when necessary. You’re a queen. You can do better than someone who needs to sleep with hookers.
My youngest brother is in the middle of his first semester of law school at Michigan State University. Since he and his wife moved there in August it’s been interesting to hear him talk about how many people are excited about the Detroit Tigers. For example, the bus driver is always talking about their latest game when he boards her bus every morning and his law school classmates will stop their late night studies to watch a couple of innings here and there. According to my brother, the energy level has only gone up exponentially since the Tigers made the postseason. Since Tiger fans are a rare breed in Utah, I’m envious that my brother gets to experience that communal sports delight.
No doubt the energy levels been tamped down somewhat since the Tigers season came to an ignominious end at the hands of the Texas Rangers tonight, they made it farther than anyone thought they would back in April. And Tigers did knock the Yankees out of the post season and that alone made their trip to the postseason worth it. Besides, my brother says the bus driver and his law school friends won’t be down in the dumps for long. The Detroit Lions who are off to their first 5-0 start in over 50 years and everyone’s excited about that too. Here’s to hoping the rest of the Lions’ season will give sports fans in Michigan something to cheer about all the way ‘till February.
A New Jersey judge has ruled that a boss can tell a mother to remove her dead daughter’s photo and ballet slippers from her work cubicle.
Cecilia Ingraham’s teenage daughter, Tatiana, died of leukemia in 2005, a few months before her Cornell University orientation. After a year and a half of keeping Tatiana’s memorabilia in her cubicle, Ingraham’s boss, Carl DeStafanis, told her it was “disruptive” and to please get rid of it.
DeStafanis told Ingraham that she could “no longer speak of her daughter because she is dead.” Ingraham tearfully exited, filed for short-term disability after having heart surgery, and eventually resigned.
According to Ingraham’s lawyer, Neil Mullin, this is a whitewashed version of events. DeStafanis was a high-level employee who Ingraham barely knew, and during the half-hour exchange DeStefanis was allegedly “relentless,” as Ingraham fell apart before his eyes.
According to DeStafinis, several co-workers had complained that Ingraham’s frequent mentions of her dead daughter made them uncomfortable. Mullin claims that he was able to prove that this was false testimony.
When Ingraham left the building, she started having heart palpitations and went to the hospital. There, she had a full nervous breakdown.
“She was in grieving before, seeing a grief counselor and getting to work everyday,” said Mullin. “This was a shattering experience for her.”
Ingraham decided to fight back. She got in touch with Mullin.
“It wasn’t about the money,” said Mullin. “As a father with children I was appalled that a high-level manager at a major American corporation would act in this sadistic way. To me, a grieving mother is a sacred thing.”
I wish there was more information on this case because it sounds like both sides handled the situation poorly. That being said, from what I have read, I’m included to side with the boss on this one. My guess is that the real issue is that most people in the office felt uncomfortable being around her because she kept talking about her loss.
Most work places bring together people with different interests and backgrounds. It takes a lot of patience and tolerance from everyone to have a halfway productive and bearable work environment. That usually means subjects like politics, religions, and other personal matters are best left at the door or shared with those you know who feel the same way. I once worked in the same department with a guy who was going through a messy divorce. For months it was pretty much all he could talk about. Not only did his job performance suffer but so did his work relationship with everyone else. After awhile pretty much everyone avoided working with him, talking to him, or going out to lunch with him unless it was absolutely necessary. Everyone was so annoyed with his behavior that we were all secretly happy when wife took him to the cleaners.
At my current job a coworker recently lost an infant daughter shortly after her birth. He took a couple weeks of time off. When we returned, he was a little quieter than usual for about a month but soon returned to his normal workplace self. A photo of his infant daughter is pinned to his cubicle wall. As far as I know, the photo doesn’t bother anyone who stops by his cube but I also know he doesn’t constantly talk about his dead daughter. He’s done his best to put his life back together and move forward—at least from what I’ve seen at work.
Despite what Ingraham’s attorney says, a grieving mother (or father) isn’t a sacred thing. Loss doesn’t give one the right to impose his or her bereavement on friends, family, significant others, or coworkers. Most people are sympathetic to the loss but only to a point. They have their own issues they’re dealing with and get annoyed when one person acts like they’re the only one with problems.
There’s a time and place for everything—including grief. If you need to create a memorial, it’s probably best to do it at home. If you need to talk about your loss, confide in a councilor, religious leader, or friend instead of a coworker. Try to make work a place where you can focus on something else for part of the day. Any loss can be difficult to deal with but unless you want to want to add the stress of being unemployed to your current trial, it’s in one’s best interest to find a way to make it though the workday one day at a time.
My mom passed away suddenly in November. My parents had been married for 40 years. My dad started dating two months after her passing and just got engaged. I have met his fiancee three times total, and they have been together for about six weeks.
Is it okay that I am not thrilled about this? To soften it, they told me they would not get married for a year but also said they are basically living together. I think they expected me to congratulate them. I feel like I need more time to get used to this. Am I being mean?
There is a bright and clear line between what you’re entitled to feel (anything) and entitled to do (very little). Since the way you react to your father’s relationship carries potentially lifelong consequences on your relationship with him, keep your response within these boundaries:
1. It’s Dad’s life, not yours.
2. You grieve your way, he grieves his. There’s no one “right” way.
4. Don’t criticize his fiancee; you don’t know her well enough. When you do know her well enough, don’t criticize her then, either. Identify troubling facts when necessary, without assigning blame.
RIP Steve Jobs. For those who haven’t seen it (scroll down to view), the commencement speech he gave at Stanford in 2005 was Steve Jobs’ philosophy and life summed up in about 15 minutes. It’s also the best commencement speech ever given.
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.
This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
A recent post on the Widowed and Remarried Facebook group caught my eye. A young widow is having problems with the late husband’s family moving on and worried how their behavior might affect her children.
Here’s her situation in a nutshell: It’s been three years since her husband died and every holiday or birthday gifts from the late husband’s family to her children is some sort of memorial to their late father. She’s worried 1) that the kids will start resenting these gifts and 2) these gifts serve as a constant reminder of their loss and hold them back from moving on. Her question was what the best way to let late husband’s family knows that these gifts are no longer appropriate.
The reason this post grabbed my attention is that I see a lot of this same confusion and hesitation in widowers when they’re dealing with issues involving the late wife’s family. For whatever reason many widowers have a hard time setting boundaries and saying No to the late wife’s family. In a lot of cases the late wife’s family becomes a surrogate parent to the kids which can make drawing a line in the sand even more difficult.
In a perfect world it would be nice to always have the guidance and thoughts from a spouse when it comes to parenting. But this world isn’t perfect and the death of a husband or wife isn’t an excuse for one to abdicate his or her parental responsibilities. Instead widowed folks often have to make the best decisions that one can by themselves. If the late wife’s family is involved in what you believe to be inappropriate behavior, gifts, or anything else you have a duty as a parent to let them know what is or is not acceptable and appropriate when it comes to your kids.
So how do you deal with memorial gifts coming from the late spouse’s family? You do it the same way you would if it was anyone else doing it: You politely ask them to stop. Explain to them that your children remember their mother (or father) just fine and these gifts, as well intentioned as they are, aren’t necessary. Hopefully they’ll respect your wishes. If they don’t, be prepared to state consequences if such behavior continues and then follow through if they continue to disregard your wishes.
Remember they’re your kids. Don’t let others stop them from adjusting to their new life and moving on.