I lost my dear Susan on January 25th 2019. Since then I have done everything that a newly widowed person is not supposed to do. In particular I sold our house and moved to a new city thinking it would be easier to forget and start over. The first thing I did when I moved in was to put her ashes in the perfect location in the new house. I recently started dating (another mistake) and after meeting someone I invited her over to the house. When she saw the urn she became distant and quiet. Later she told me she couldn't deal with the urn being in the house. She has never been married and has never had to deal with the death of a spouse so I understand her feelings. What about my feelings? How do I deal with this situation?
When we are widowed, just like any other experience in life, there are lessons to learn. One thing to know is that there are really no rules. You make up the "rules" as you go along and they are yours alone. My husband died almost seven years ago. We were married just short of 50 years. I was his primary caregiver and from diagnosis to death it was sixteen long, difficult years. The last four years we were living in an assisted living facility so they could cook and clean for us while I (along with nurses and hospice workers) helped him. There were many years of thinking the what if's.
I knew I didn't want to stay there after he died so I started looking for options. Days after his death, I found a "perfect" house, in another city nearby, made the seller an offer and closed the deal within three weeks. Oh, the comments from just about everyone on how I should not be doing that! But it was an ideal solution for me in many, many ways. For the first time in my life I could make decisions -- totally on my own -- without a parent or a spouse or children to negotiate or comment.
I kept his urn on a dresser in my bedroom for over two years. Then I met a man and decided it was time to put husband's urn in the closet out of respect. When I started dating/traveling with the new guy, we put my husband's urn in the motor home over the passenger seat. His wife's urn was located over the driver's seat. Our first trip lasted six months and we went all the way from west coast to east coast, laughing that the four of us were seeing the country! Some people loved the idea; others thought it was terrible. It worked for us.
We have been together for over four years. Both of us widowed, then alone for some years before meeting, we respect the sad times of our spouses birthdays, anniversaries, etc. and give each other space around those times. Last year I sold my house and moved into his. This year he is selling his house and we are getting ready to move into an active retirement community for OUR Chapter Two.
Not everyone thinks we should do this. A couple friendships have been lost because they thought we were breaking rules.We live together without marriage because marriage would financially ruin us and mess up the kids inheritances. Life is too short and happiness too fleeting to get bogged down on shoulda/coulda/woulda and what other people think.
You ask, "how do I deal with this situation?" My suggestion is that you do what feels right to you. Remember though, your love has been gone less than a year and your grief is still raw. Be as patient and kind to yourself as you would to your best friend.
What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing. It gives me hope that there are people out there that understand and can accept the fact that we have a past. I just need to give it time and find the one that will try not to pressure me to erase it just for their sake.
A lovely reply Barbee. Best wishes as you make this next move.
My husband's ashes are in a lovely wooden box that sits on a table under the tv at my house. My adult (unmarried) son is living in my house and he likes having his dad there. My new guy's wife's ashes sit on the fireplace mantle at his house. I spend most of my time at his place and I'm ok with them being in full view. He was married 50 years and is just two years out from his loss; I'm 9 years out after 41 years with my guy.
Your feelings count, lonecougar. And if someone you date isn't ok with seeing the urn, perhaps that's a sign that they just aren't the right person for you. There's a Facebook group for people who are dating widows/widowers and I've been shocked at some of the responses from some of the members who don't want anything connected to the former spouse to be seen or ever talked about. Thankfully, there are others who understand and are ok with it.
Thank you for the reply. You are correct because now I find myself having to change out everything in the house. Even the flatware.
When my husband died I just wanted "him" home. Having his ashes in the house was a comfort. When I moved, the urn was secure in a box behind the passenger seat. After he'd been gone five years, I started thinking I have to do something with his ashes. I knew that if anything happened to me, my sister would just throw them in the trash, and while HE used to joke about that, I didn't want that to happen. I'd long thought that I would like to bury or scatter his ashes at sea in Negril, Jamaica, because we'd gone there 18 times and he loved it there. After a massive hassle getting a transit permit that it turned out Customs in Montego Bay never even looked at, I went with my sister and brother-in-law and thanks to a lovely woman I met online in a Jamaica Facebook group, who knew a dive instructor there, we got the boat to take us out to the reef, where the guy went in the water, took the biodegradable urn I'd bought, and buried it under some coral where curious divers would not find it. As our plane took off to take us home, I felt like I was "leaving him behind." But every time I see someone post a photo of a sunset in Negril, I know I did the right thing. I still have the urn on my dresser to remind me, but I feel better that I no longer have to worry about what happens to his ashes when I'm gone.
As for your feelings about the urn vs. those of a companion, to me it's an indicator that perhaps you are not ready yet for someone new, or else you may have to wait till you find someone secure enough to not feel threatened by its presence in your life and your wife's presence in your heart.
Awww i.m so sorry how heartbreaking all over again . i mean ya maybe a little strange or awkward idk though. I just cant even begin to put into words the amount of offense i would have felt in that situation if someone ever even acted as if unable to totally encorperate my losted loved one being factored into the relationship equation of me. I.m sure its a very usual response though to something of that nature when it has never personally happened to the person on the other end of the relationship. I mean them never losing someone so close. Thats prob y i feel like maybe the only kind of person i would ever eben consider as a partner would have to be someone who has been through the loss of a loved one also or else i.d always feel like that other person was feeling like theyre having to compete withthe deceased partner. When that just simply is not the case. Its about accepting that the person still loves the deceased but can also have new loved ones too while learning to accept fate.
I posted this in another thread but it’s more appropriate here.
I have the urn on the bottom shelf of a slim curio cabinet. I took off a gold necklace I use to wear an threaded it though our rings, then draped it over the neck of the urn. On the other shelves I put her heart collection trinkets and her angel collection. She was a huge Bruce Springsteen fan so I purchased two mini replica guitars of his and put them on each side of the urn along with the ticket stubs from the concerts we went to. I light the cabinet every night.
If fate ever blesses me in finding another partner, they will have to be ok with it. She was and always will be a part of my life just as any family member is and maybe a little more. The past is the past and that cannot be changed by ignoring that it ever happened. It just won’t consume me enough to not focus the same amount of love, respect and loyalty that a new love deserves. Our lives should not end with the passing of a spouse but the memories of them should not pass away as well.