Moving on After Death of Spouse

Moving on After Death of Spouse

Moving on after the death of a spouse presents a challenge for both men and women. We have lost our partner, confidant, lover, traveling and social companion.

How we move forward or on with life often is dependent on our age, the length of time we were married and the support we have of family and friends. I recently met JoAnn Deveny, author of the new book “I am Widow, Hear Me Roar: Confessions of a Surviving Spouse.” Below are some of JoAnn’s practical tips on how to get back into a social life following the death of your spouse.

Contributing author, JoAnn Deveny

Soon after my husband’s death, some astute couples, who knew that I would miss the routine Saturday night dates, continued to invite me to dinner as a third wheel. After being seated, it only took a few minutes for all to realize that vacant fourth chair was blatantly empty, and our relationships would never be the same as a threesome.
Nonetheless, our couple friends continued to invite me to their parties where the lack of one person wasn’t as noticeable. Soon I found that my usual manner had to be altered in these mixed-gender situations, and I learned it’s always good to come prepared.

Here are some tips to help you get back into a social life following the death of a spouse;

• If you feel more comfortable, car pool. However, this does not allow you a quick escape if you feel the need to leave. If you’d rather make a quick get-away, drive yourself.

• If you drive yourself, don’t over-consume alcohol. It doesn’t allow for that quick escape thing and DUIs are not fun—believe me.

• Better yet, invite a friend. Preferably, one who is comfortable in group situations. Plan ahead for a time limit that you both can agree on. Maybe have some fun with it and have a gesture or word which is code for “We’re out of here!”

• When you’re conversing with married men/women, don’t be surprised if the wife/husband suddenly materializes at their side—placing an arm around their spouses waist or clasping his/her hand as if claiming property. You are single now, you have been placed in the “threat” category. Include her/him in on the discussion, and if he/she’s not there, inquire about him/her in your conversation.

• If you feel comfortable, speak about your husband. That will relieve the tension for all, and possibly bring up conversation about him. You may be surprised, and you may not feel as alone.

• Above all, think of each person as an individual, don’t think of them as one of a couple. Each person is as unique as you are, with or without a spouse.

• Overall, if you’re newly bereaved—take it slowly. Be gentle with yourself and don’t take on too much responsibility. Stay away from cold germs and toxic people. Your body and your psyche are compromised.

JoAnn Deveny

JoAnn Deveny

I am widow hear me roar book GET JOANN’S BOOK ON AMAZON


33 Responses to Moving on After Death of Spouse

  • My husband of 2 days passed of Luekemia, after a whole year of fighting his organs finally failed. And I’ve had alot of emotions especially anger, for no real apparent reason but it was present. But now after dealing his hand and other hands on my back it’s hard to move on. All I want to do is talk to him and he isn’t there to have a conversation with.

  • I am a widow of 3 years. My husband of 35 years passed away after after a 3 year cancer battle. I was 58 at the time. I found comfort a few months ago in a man that was my husbands cousin. While we enjoy each other very much, my adult daughters are absolutely livid at the idea that I am dating a family member. I have not and never will forget my late husband, is it wrong to desire this new relationship? Is my daughters intense reaction accurate?

  • My wife of 49 years passed away last September. It is not like in the movies. I am devastated at times and at other times quite calm because I realize her illness was making her miserable. I was a care giver for over 3 years. The misery she went thru was not fair, from hospitals in Las Vegas, San Diego Philadelphia and Phoenix. I just do not understand why the Lord would make such a wonderful person suffer so. I truly understand she is in a better place now. Sad to say I am the one who is at a loss. Everyone says that it takes time, but no one can say how much time. Time is a variable. This coming April we would have celebrated 50 years of marriage. I will celebrate for her. She is gone but never forgotten, she is my love. I miss her so,

  • @james eckart I am so sorry for your loss. Think of moving forward as your next life’s journey. What do you love to do? Your wife would want you to do things you love – be curious…one day at a time. – JoAnne

  • My beautiful wife passed away on 1/2/20 so a little over 3 weeks ago.There are moments of sadness filled with utter loneliness. My wife was on dialysis for 16 years, all of that put such a strain on her heart and body, until one day she couldn’t fight anymore and she stopped breathing and could not be revived. I feel like I’m struggling to move forward on a daily life. I spent over a decade taking care of her 24/7 365 days a year and now i struggle with purpose. Maybe someone can tell me ways to move on. Thank you very much.

  • I am 53 years old and my AMAZING husband died suddenly at the age of 54 from a heart attack. It’s been so overwhelming. We were so close, best friends. We were having so much fun this past summer and then he died !! I have 2 daughters 21 and 17 and we are all missing him so much! I am trying to take it day by day because thinking about future really scares the crap out of me. I loved being married to him. He was our hero everyday all day long. My girls adored their dad. It makes me so sad thinking about everything he will miss. The guilt angry and sadness sometimes feel like a weight on my chest ! I try to tell myself to remember the good times, I cry every day but then it goes away and we just do what we have to do to get through the day until we have to start gain the next day !!! He was such a great spirit, loud life of the party biggest smile always do for his family ! Big strong firefighter 26 years !!! We miss him like crazy.

  • I feel a bit out of place among all of these widows as I lost my wife of 38 years 4 months ago. She was sick for almost 5 years and had fallen and broken bones several times leading to many hospitalizations. At one point she had a major bleed out and almost died then. While it has been tough to lose her, there is also a feeling of relief from the stress and frustration I was under while caring for her. I was the lone care giver as her family was in Montana and my family was in Florida except our daughter who lives 6 hours away in New Mexico. I feel bad sometimes because I laugh and joke at work and try to feel good about living my life without the stress. I took my daughter with me to spread her ashes and then to Florida to visit my family who made us feel at ease. I still get sad when looking at her pictures and remembering our good times but I know she is no longer suffering and that helps me put my head in a better place. As I look back on the whole situation, I realize I missed several signs that she was fading away from us including some dementia until we contacted our local hospice group. They came out to the house, did an evaluation and transported her that day to their facility where she passed away the next day. If I had gotten their literature sooner I would have known what to look for as her dying day got closer. Now I am going to move to Florida and try to move on with my life and have a new start with family close by for support.

  • I lost my husband of 47 years almost three years ago on my son’s birthday ( may son passed away almost 10 years ago). I met my husband when I was 15 and he was my life. My friend invited me to her Christmas cocktail party last week telling me I needed to get out there. I went and an hour later I was home, I felt so very out of place with all the couples, I guess I had not really realized that he had truly been my other half. Even though he had been sick for about ten years before he passed and we did not attend any social functions outside our home I always knew he had my back and now I do not know how to go out in the world on my own. Do not get me wrong I am not a hermit I do go out but only with my family or close friends and I am truly blessed with a great group of people who are on my side, but I do not think they understand how different and lonely life is now.

  • @Jae I am so sorry for your loss. Picking up the pieces is one day at a time, give yourself the grace to grief and healing comes. – JoAnne

  • My husband passed, over a year ago, we had recently moved into our new home, we were living on a shared family property which turned into a not so good thing, doctors instructed us to move due to the stress, we were only in our new home less than two months when he passed, the stress from his family had taken its toll on him, we were besties, and our Birthday’s was a day apart, after his death, his family put me through it, (for over a year), I’m learning to forgive them, and have moved on, but I have no communication with them, it is hard I miss him every day I try to make an effort to get involved in the community. Mondays & Weekends are the hardest.
    Trying to pick up the pieces.

  • hello, i want 2 get 2 know widow & widowers, i live in Topeka, have no friends, lost my husband 15yrs ago
    i am really lonely, & need 2 meet some new people, i have been 2 meet up & but looking for a group grieving
    group, last time i put my email out there i had dating sites contact me, not into that, been there done

  • @Lucinda I’m so sorry for your loss. I don’t think you experience your grief fully until they pass away and you no longer have their physical presence everyday. I hope continue to have supportive people around you now – we all need people to talk to about our loss months after the loss. – JoAnne

  • Lost my husband of 53 years May 7th, 2 days before his 75th birthday. I was his care giver for almost 2 years before hospice started. I thought that I would be prepared when his passed, seeing as he was so ill, boy was I wrong.

  • @Barbara I am so very sorry for your loss. The grieving process is different for everyone so don’t compare yourself to someone else or wonder if you’re doing it right! There is no right or wrong, you will experience many emotions, but you do have to feel it to move through it. This doesn’t mean you will ever forget, but in time you learn to continue living without the physical presence of your beloved. Remember, he will want you to keep living. – JoAnne

  • I lost my husband of 49 years just 10 days ago. I am numb. The tears do not come yet I want to cry. I wake up every morning forgetting for a moment that he is gone. Please tell me if this is part of the grieving process

  • Thank you Joanne, This has really helped me alot. I recently lost my husband in a road accident in December 2018. I must say that this has not been the easiest journey. Sometimes i feel low, sometimes i am happy especially when i look at my daughter but sometimes all i want to do is cry the whole day and not leave my room.

  • I am writing because I have a friend that recently lost their spouse of 2 and half years. His wife passed away about 8 or 9 weeks ago so this is very new. I met this man only a couple of weeks ago, when we met it seemed like we could talk forever and we did and we talked about everything including his wives passing. We talked about everything under the sun just about. I knew it was too early for him to try and move on and that’s not the point here. I want to help him if I can.

    The short version of this story is, he has withdrawn, and he’s withdrawn from me and talking to me. I know that he was feeling guilty, feeling like he was under the microscope so to speak from her family, friends and their neighbors. We talked about that. Although, I have never lost a spouse I do know that is normal. I just don’t understand why he has withdrawn totally. I know things like this take time and I cannot even fathom the hurt, the sense of loneliness or anything that comes with that.

    I am looking for some advice on how long should I give him before I reach out to him to just at least make sure he’s OK. Do I give him a month, six months or do I see if he reaches out to me and just stay quiet?
    Any advice is welcomed. He’s a genuine soul I do believe. I just don’t know if there is anything I can do.

  • @Lisa I’m giving you a big thumbs up for putting yourself out to date someone again! You are choosing to live life, don’t judge yourself or your choice as good or bad – it just is. You get to choose again! Good luck – JoAnne

  • @Melissa I’m sorry for your loss – Iknow how hard the journey is because I’ve walked it myself. You get to decide every day to be happy or sad and I know somedays you will choose sadness. But in time, you will be choosing happiness and remember your beloved husband would want you to keep living. – JoAnne

  • My husband passed 4 years ago. He was a good man my best friend and soulmate. For 27 years we were happily married. I was grieving way hard want to go with him life here had no meaning for me anymore. I needed life to cling to so I dated a man who was kind he would come by and cook for me sit with me talk with me. So I was with him, turned out to be a bad relationship he took control of everything. I was stuck for 3 years. Fast forward to now I survived all that and have grieved my husband
    I am now wanting to meet someone new a new friend. But feel has no meaning anymore. Yet I don’t want to die a lonely old woman either.

  • I lost my husband of 13 years I miss him daily I don’t know how to move on after losing him

  • @Barbara I am so sorry for your loss. Finding a group of like-minded women is a great idea for support. Please join our Facebook group

  • I dated my previous husband for 2 yrs. and we were married for almost 5 yrs. I was 40, he was 52. We married in 1990 He died in 1994. Of that 6-7 years, I was in heart failure and waiting for a donor heart for the last 2 yrs. So we did not get to experience very much together, we loved hard and thought we were soul mates and were looking forward to life after transplant. It was very sad when he suddenly died from a massive heart attack one year after I got my heart. We had many plans, one was to have a child but the doctors said I had to wait 1 yr. post transplant. What is sad is that it took me many yrs, to find him and we had so many plans and were going to grow old together. Many people after he died were very rude and mean. They said oh well, you weren’t married that long or lucky you were only married for 5 yrs. I could not believe how many people said this. So nasty. After my heart transplant on April 2, 1993, I had a very hard time staying alive, I had to focus on each day to just live and take my 35 pills day. I was very sick and had to learn to walk again which took me 6 months. Many things I had to re-learn from being bed-ridden for so long. Here is what happened to my grief….I didn’t experience much sadness/crying/thinking about his death, until about 3 yrs. after he died because of fighting to stay alive each day. It then came in spurts. It took me a few years to realize I had not grieved right after his death, so I grieved as it came, in pieces here and there. I met another man post transplant about 2 yrs. after my husband died and married him. We are still married (since 1996) and very happy. But, sometimes I still think I did not grieve enough and still at times will be sad for what we missed. I never thought I would love again since I loved him so very much. I never got to have any children and we never did have much time together before or after my heart transplant. But I’m alive and God has been good. I’ve been very blessed my donor family, friends/family and my husband.

  • I am 54 years old and my husband of 35 years died suddenly one week ago. One minute I feel guilty and the next minute I am angry with my husband and cursing him out. I’d like to talk to women in my age group with a similar situation. My husband had a massive brain hemorrhage with no warning.

  • My husband of 34 years,passed away on November 30 th 2018, he had been I’ll for sometime,we were best friends and spent all our time together since 2004 when he retired.there was 22years she difference but it never was a problem with us. He was the best for me,treated me like I was the most loved and important one in his life.the way a woman wants to be treated. So I’m having such a difficult time ,I just feel so alone and yes I do attend church regularly,but no one wants to hear me talk about my that said I feel as though I need support from those that are facing the same as me.

  • I am glad I found this post. I really liked the second to last bullet point about treating everyone as individuals. I think that is super important. Instead of looking at a couple as a ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ look at them as Mike and Sarah. They are not defined by their partner, nor are you!

  • My spouse committed suicide March 2018. He was cheating on me with my best friend, and he was a narcissistic in fact learning my friend was even a psychopathic narcissistic. The two together, made me feel like everything to do with my marriage was my fault. I begged for my spouse and I to get help, but they conveniences me it was all my fault. After my spouse took his life, is when I found out all this and now, a year is coming up and I’m moving on. I feel guilty but I believe that I’m making the right choice. My family has suffered dearly, and our marriage was over for a long time, but he never would leave, nor would I. If you want to know more, get in touch with me. Beverly, I’d like to say, you can’t own your spouses decision to end his life. God wouldn’t want that for you. Yes, at times I feel guilty also, but we all deserve to be love and feel love. If this other man enjoys your company and you do to, then move forward. Your never going to forget your spouse, I know I won’t but I also deserve to be happy also. I wish you the best.

  • @Shanoli, I loved your comment, especially….from one death grew a new life in another love – beautiful perspective – JoAnne

  • @Beverly
    I read your comment on my blog post –
    I think if your new friend brings you comfort and companionship that why not?
    Too soon is just subjective and usually a judgement from other people who have not experienced loss. I believe our loved ones who have passed would want for our happiness. – JoAnne

  • @Becky thanks for reading and your comment

  • Thank you Joanne, you have helped me so much.❤️

  • I am a widow since Dec 13, 2017. It will be almost a year since my husband passed away. About 5 months after my husband’s death I had posted things about what I was going through at the time. This guy started texting me about my postings of grief. He has become my friend and has helped me a lot. He was a counselor for patients at the hospital in my hometown for several years. He has admitted that I have become more than a friend to him, but I don’t feel the same way. I feel guilty at times because I feel like I am doing something wrong by talking to him. I was married to my husband for 50yrs. I still have my bad days, but sometimes everything runs smooth. It helps me to talk to him. Do you think it is to soon to have a relationship with another man? Please, let me know. I need an answer.

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