Widower Wednesday: The Late Wife’s Facebook Page

Sorry for the late post today. I’ve been tied up in a bit of good news. My publisher sent a contract over for my Dating a Widower book this morning and I’ve spent some time reading through the contract and doing other Dating a Widower book-related things. There’s still some negotiation that needs to be done before anything is signed but it’s nice to know that an independent third party sees the value and need for this kind of book. Anyway, I’ll post a full update on the book on Monday as I’m going to need help from some of you to make this book a reality.

Now on to today’s column. . . .

A couple weeks ago when I was scanning some photos from my time in Bulgaria, I opened up one of my old photo albums and a picture of me and the late wife fell out. The photo was taken about six months before I left for Sofia and three years before we ended up tying the knot. It was a photo I carried around with me during my two years overseas.

Just seeing a photo of the two of us together took me out of the present and brought my mind back to the days when the photo was taken. I sat for a minute remembering those days (and how young I looked) then put the photo in a back cover of the album and continued with my photo scanning project.

I share this story because I’m increasingly getting emails from women who are having a hard time with the late wife’s Facebook page and/or the widower’s Facebook page. The problem isn’t that these Facebook pages exist but what the widower does on these pages.

When it comes to the late wife’s (memorial) page, for example, the widower’s girlfriend will look at the page and notice that the widower has recently uploaded some photos of the two of them on their page or left a comment on her wall saying how much he loves and misses her. Or on his own page, the widower will post photos of he and the late wife but no photos of he and the new woman exists on the page. Usually the woman talks to the widower about it and he tells her that he loves her and shouldn’t worry about it. The woman then feels like the widower’s actions show he isn’t ready to move and wants to know if she’s making a mountain out of a molehill.

My thoughts: I don’t have a problem with Facebook or memorial pages for the late wife or anyone else. The problem is that memorial pages that are easily accessible by the widower can cause him to focus on the past and what he lost instead of his new relationships and the potential future with that person. It’s too easy to be on Facebook, click over to the LW’s page, and get lost in a flood of memories and good times. I’m sure not all widowers have this problem, but based on the email flowing into my inbox, an increasing number do.

I’m not a big memorial person. I think people are best kept an remembered in one’s heart. Because of this, I have a hard time seeing the point of keeping a page of a deceased person up years after they’re gone. Facebook is something that the livings use—not the dead. If the LW’s Facebook page is causing tension in a relationship, the best solution would be to delete it. (This is something I’m requesting be done within a month of me dying. I will live on through my books, thankyouverymuch.) Deleting the LW’s Facebook page in order to make the new woman feel like #1 wouldn’t be a hard decision for me to make.

I also think it’s a red flag if he’s posting photos of his past on his own Facebook page but not mentioning you or posting photos of him and the new woman he claims to love. To me this is exactly the same as keeping his house full of photos of him and the LW but not posting new photos of the new woman or hiding her from friends and family. If the widower really loves you, he won’t have a hard time letting the world—even Facebook friends he barely knows—know that he loves you.

Just like a 15-year-old photo of me and the late wife sucked me back into the past for a few minutes, Facebook or memorial pages or websites can cause widowers to do the same thing. This can be especially hard for recent widowers or those who haven’t fully committed their hearts to the new woman.

There’s nothing wrong with remembering the past; there’s a time and place for that. It’s not good, however, to live in the past. If Facebook pages, memorial websites, or anything else is causing a widower to live in the past can cause more harm than good. If these are causing a widower to live in the past, it’s time for him to decide what he values more – a page on a website or a relationship with a real person.