Me, My Husband, and His Dead Wife

There's an article on Upvoted about the hardships that come with dating and marrying a widower--something that many readers of this site can relate to. Excerpts below. I'm also quoted several times in the article.

While decorating the Christmas tree, Lara found a place for the special ornament she made for her family this year—a red plush picture frame decorated with little hearts and snowflakes. Displayed inside it was a photograph of a woman, a woman who is not her.

The woman has big eyes, a strong chin and, as Lara describes, a “million-dollar smile.” Lara knows her face well—there are images of her throughout the house she shares with her husband, Dave, and their four kids. Photographs placed in the rooms of the three oldest children. Snapshots tucked in binders on a bookcase in her bedroom. A giant portrait showcased in the den.

Though she never met her, Lara lives with the presence of this woman, Charlotte, who died by suicide in 2011. And she’s been trying to, as she explains, “make room” for her ever since she fell in love with Dave, the husband that Charlotte left behind.

As both the new wife and the new mother to the children the couple had together, Lara, 30, takes the family to Charlotte’s grave every month, makes sure there’s a cake on her birthday and includes her in holiday traditions, such as tree decorating. She does it for the kids, mostly, but also for herself.

“As much as it can hurt me, being allowed to participate in the grieving process to an extent by facilitating these opportunities allows me to not be ignored,” she says. “Otherwise, when grieving happens, I don’t exist.”

***

These are women who know what it’s like to experience profound love with a man who may also—maybe even always—love another woman. Women who are swimming in a massive gray area with very few resources to guide them. Women immersed in a world of grief that is not their own. Women who are constantly told to grin and bear it.

“It’s so conflicting, it makes my head spin,” says Rachel, a 42-year-old professional who has been dating a widower for three years.

As a human, you want to show compassion and sensitivity, she explains. But as a romantic partner, you don’t want to be making out on the couch while gazing at an urn filled with another woman’s ashes—an object that has been the source of many arguments in their relationship, and even a brief breakup.

“You get to a point where you say, ‘I don’t want to hear anymore,’” she shares. “I can’t listen anymore. I don’t want to know what her favorite color was. I don’t want to know what her favorite perfume was.’ I don’t want to live in the shadow of someone else.”

Read the entire article on Upvoted here.

REMINDER: Media Appearnce: Living the Dream Mom

Just a reminder that I'm scheduled to appear on Living the Dream Mom internet radio show TODAY (July 28) at 10:00 a.m. EST (7:00 a.m. PST). The topic? Married to a Widower. Guests include a woman who married a widower with three children and since has had one of her own. Should be a fun and lively discussion. You can listen to the show by clicking here then clicking the Live On Air button in the top right-hand corner.

If you want to call in and ask questions, the number is 1-877-864-4869 or you can click on the Live Chat button on this page during the show to address your questions there!

Media Apperance: Living the Dream Mom Radio

I'm scheduled to appear on Living the Dream Mom internet radio show this Thursday (July 28) at 10:00 a.m. EST (7:00 a.m. PST). The topic? Married to a Widower. Guests include a woman who married a widower with three children and since has had one of her own. You can listen to the show by clicking here then clicking the Live On Air button in the top right-hand corner.

If you want to call in and ask questions, the number is 1-877-864-4869 or you can click on the Live Chat located at the top of this page during the show to address your questions there.

Interview with HALO

HealingAfterLoss.org interviewed me a few weeks ago. That interview was published in their newsletter that came out today. Here's a summary of the interview. FTFC: What inspired you to write Room for Two?

Abel: There were two factors that inspired me to write Room for Two. The first was that I had a hard time finding books that I could relate to as a young widower. All I could find were self-help books or a handful of poorly-told first person accounts from others who had lost a spouse. I didn't find the self-help books all that helpful and thought the first person accounts rather condescending and preachy. Those authors would stop telling their story and assumed that I was feeling the exact same way or was going the exact same emotions. On some level I could relate to their stories but I felt like these authors arrogantly thought they had the answer for everyone who lost a spouse.

However, the biggest reason I decided to write the book was because complete strangers told me my story was inspiring. About two months after my late wife passed away, I started a blog about my day-to-day experiences as a young widower. The blog became rather popular and I started to receive emails from people all over the world. Though I received many emails from young widows or widowers, most emails came from people who were happily married and told me how my experience made them appreciate their spouse more. Many people told me I should turn my story into a book and share it with people, so I did.

FTFC: How does Room for Two differ from other books about young widows or widowers?

Abel: I just tried to tell my story. I didn't try to interpret my experience for the reader. My hope is that I wrote it well enough that people will still be able to relate to it on some level even if they didn't lose a spouse to suicide. I think there's a universal feeling of sadness and loss that most people can relate to. I also think people like stories that show people rising and overcoming obstacles that are placed in their way. I believe I told the story well enough that when others read it, they can relate to it as well – even if they haven't gone through the exact same experience.

FTFC: Is Room for Two only a book young widows or widowers would enjoy?

Abel: I think the audience the book is much broader than that though I think young widows and widowers will get more than other people out of it simply because they can probably relate to my experience on a deeper level than those who haven't lost a spouse. Friends, family members, or those who are dating a young widow or widower might find it a useful roadmap as to what their loved one might be experiencing. Anyone who enjoys a good love story or a story about overcoming life’s trials would also enjoy it.

FTFC: What are some issues in Room for Two young widows and widowers might particularly be able to relate to?

Abel: Aside from the grieving and loss issues, about half the book focuses on my dating experiences. I had two relationships in the year following my wife's death - one good the other bad. My stories might highlight some challenges not only young widows and widowers but what those dating them might experience as well.

FTFC: Was writing the book difficult?

Abel: I've always thought of the first draft of Room for Two as my own personal therapy. The first draft was also plain awful. However, once I had the story out on paper, I was able to take a step back and look at it objectively, edit it, and do the necessary rewriting to make it publishable.

FTFC: Are there any parts of the book that are still hard for you to read.

Abel: I still have a hard time reading the parts about my daughter, Hope. It was very fortunate that Hope was able to live as long as she did. The death of a child is something you never really get over. Even though it's been five years, I still can't read the parts about her without tearing up.

FTFC: Tell us a little about your life now? Does your story have a happy ending?

Abel: I've been happily married to a wonderful and beautiful woman named Julianna - the same Julianna that I date in the book - for four years. We have three kids and despite the stresses that come with raising a family, I couldn't be happier.

FTFC: Where can people learn more about Room for Two?

Abel: They can read a summary of Room for Two and the first chapter on my website: www.abelkeogh.com.