Widowed people’s dilemma: remove deceased spouse’s pictures?

   On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – April 9, 2021

by Columnist Tom Blake

There are two parts to today’s eNewsletter. Both parts have been edited for length and clarity

  Part One  –  Widowed people’s dilemma: remove deceased spouse’s pictures?

A couple of weeks ago I asked Champs for opinions on widows or widowers who date and also have pictures of their deceased spouses their homes. Here are some responses.

Ben, a widower, wrote, “It’s been two years since my wife’s passing. My girlfriend has brought up the issue of pictures of my late wife in the house. I am gradually taking them down and moving on in life. Empathy, patience, and love are how I deal with change in my life.”

Cheryl emailed, “I had a boyfriend who constantly suggested that I take down the photos of my late husband. He felt that if I thought it was necessary to have those photos prominently displayed, it meant that I still loved and thought about my husband all the time, and therefore I couldn’t put my whole heart into loving him. 

“Eventually, I broke up with him due to his extreme jealousy and possessiveness.” 

Kim said, “I will never date another widow because one compared me to the deceased and I was always trying to measure up to a ‘legend,’ at least he was in her mind. Who wants to date someone who can’t heal and move ahead?”

Old photos around the house everywhere
                                                               
         (Photo by Tom- Ireland 2019)

Alicia shared, “Seven years ago, my brother lost his wife of 30 years after a happy marriage. Four years later, he remarried. He still misses his deceased wife. His present wife was divorced for several years and her husband died as well. Both of them freely speak about their deceased spouses. 

“I have learned from them that even though you find someone new who you now love, the past life does not need to be buried. It was a large part of your life and why should you sweep it under the rug?”

Curtis, “I had a sister who married a widower. They were much in love and had pictures of both their former spouses around. They talked with each other about adventures they had with their previous families. When my sister died, she was buried with her previous husband, and when the widower dies, he will be buried with his first wife. In the meantime, they enjoyed each other’s company. Both families accepted the other and were glad they had been happy again.” 

Sherrill, “My guy Matt loved his deceased wife dearly, and until we met, he believed he would never love again.

“When I moved in with him, Matt asked if I would object to him putting some pictures of his ex-wife on the refrigerator along with my pictures of my kids and grandkids. I had no objection. I felt secure in our relationship and his love for me, did not feel threatened; I admired his loving devotion to his wife.

“He inadvertently put pictures of her directly in my line of sight so I saw them every time I opened the refrigerator door. Initially, this didn’t bother me, but eventually, it did! I asked him if he would move the pictures to a different location on the refrigerator, which he willingly did. He has pictures of his wife and me in his office.

“This is a complicated issue for which there is no simple or right answer.  As seniors, we all bring baggage into a new relationship.” 

Bill, a widower, emailed, “What matters in the conduct of a new relationship is the acceptance by a new spouse of the nature and profundity of the widow or widower’s prior relationship.

“Confidence is best created when the widow or widower provides an atmosphere that enhances the strength, convictions, and independence of their new loves. Removing doubt and fostering self-confidence minimizes any propensity for rivalry with departed spirits.”

Lynne wrote, “Don’t expect the surviving spouse to ever give up loving the deceased spouse. If not for death, they would still be together. Someone who wants a relationship with a surviving spouse is going to have to realize that there is memory lingering there, and be comfortable with that.”

Hopefully, these sensitive replies will help widows and widowers who face this understandable dilemma.

                                   Part 2  An open-minded and realistic Champ

I think Cynthia’s situation, described below, is similar to many of our Champs’ situations: they are living alone and have wonderful, positive attitudes.

Cynthia in Kansas, “I am amused, entertained, and enlightened by your eNewsletter.

“I’ve been a widow for six years and the pain of losing my husband of 18 years has finally softened and I’ve accepted where God has placed me now. Yes, I too would like to slow dance with a man, go out to dinner occasionally, have a man to talk or text with. However, the pandemic has put the kibosh on that. 

“I am not disappointed as I have a full life with my routine and the fact that my mother is 96 and I am at her house helping her every few days.

“I am 74 and in good shape as I walk four miles almost every day in my neighborhood. I always smile when I meet other people and I’m open, but I noticed that people nowadays are really afraid to smile back or stop and talk.  People are too afraid to have even a casual interaction. I will continue doing the same and as Champ Gina mentioned two weeks ago, I will perhaps meet someone who would like to walk and talk too!” 

Tom’s Response: “Cynthia, you are doing everything right. There could be no higher priority than continuing to help your mom. My sisters and I did that with our mom, who lived 500 miles away from me. I traveled to see her as often as possible. She passed two months before her 99th birthday. She had a blessed life and was healthy for the most part. She proudly proclaimed at 95 that she took no medications. She passed 11 years ago; my sisters and I still miss her.

“Also, walking is a great thing to do as well. So, hopefully, as time goes on, this pandemic will ease enough so we can get back to more normal lives and people will talk more with strangers. Who knows? A guy you encounter might even enjoy a partner. We all need more social interaction.  I have sent your column to a couple of my friends here who are also widows and they enjoy your column also.

“By the way, we can send our eNewsletter directly to your two widow friends. They can email me and I will add them to our mailing list, or they can sign up at www.findingloveafter50.com. on the home page.”

Author: tpblake

Tom Blake is a newspaper columnist in south Orange County, California. He has published four books. His primary topic is finding love after 50 and beyond, sometimes far beyond, for people 80 and older as well. He also blogs about travel at TravelAfter55.com.

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