Widower Wednesday: The Accidental In-Law

Widower Wednesday

Book update: The Ultimate Dating Guide for Widowers is available in e-book format for the Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. A paperback version and other e-book formats will be available soon. You can read the first chapter here.


Today I want to draw attention to a great essay called The Accidental In-Law. The author, Amy Paturel, is married to a widower. In the essay she describes her relationship with the late wife’s family and the reason she has such a great relationship with them.

Often those who are dating or married to widowers not only have to deal with late wife issues but the late wife’s family who might be having a hard time seeing their daughter’s husband fall in love with someone else. I think the essay serves as a good template for all on how everyone (not just the late wife’s family) can open your heart and life to someone after someone else you’ve loved has passed on and encourage everyone to read it.

That first meeting [with the late wife’s parent’s] could have been awkward, uncomfortable, even nerve-racking, but Roger and Chris made me feel at ease. We strolled on the beach, Brandon and Roger walking ahead while Chris and I lingered behind. Then we had dinner and drinks at a seaside restaurant, talking easily about travel, life, and love.

Noelle’s name never came up.

As we were driving home after dinner, I asked Brandon how Roger felt about me—and how he felt about me dating his daughter’s husband. “He loved you,” Brandon assured me. “He said you were warm, intelligent, sweet, and he told me not to wait too long before snapping you up.”


When we’re together, Roger delights in our children, lifting each of them to the sky while the other clambers for his attention, raising their arms and begging for a turn—the picture of a playful grandfather enjoying his progeny.

I think about Noelle. What would she give to have this experience with her dad, her husband, and the children she and Brandon might have brought into this world.

Sometimes, I feel her with us. During Roger’s visits, Brandon might give him some of her old things, or the two of them will reminisce about a long-ago family event. But Roger never dwells in that place for long. He navigates the conversation matter-of-factly, while I silence my longing to ask a million questions about his daughter, and why he has chosen to love what she left behind.

Whatever the reason, Roger has decided to face his loss by surrounding himself with people Noelle loved most in this life. He could have turned into his grief. He could have faded quietly into the background, leaving Brandon to navigate his new life on his own. Instead, Roger has been a pillar of support—embracing me and Brandon in our journey to become a family.

Read the whole essay at Spirituality & Health.