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FYI...My book, "PAST: Perfect! PRESENT: Tense! Insights From One Woman's Journey As The Wife of a Widower" is available for purchase at Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com and via the publisher, iUniverse.com.
Julie Donner Andersen
Newsletter Dated: 4/24/2004 1:45:29 PM
Subject: WOW?GOW NEWSLETTER - MAY 2004 - Julie Donner Andersen
Happy Mother’s Day to all my WOWs and GOWs with children….and all of you who parent stepchildren! Maybe someone should clue in the President about declaring a Happy Stepparent’s Day, eh? After all, step parents ARE parents! Thanks to my sweet GOW pal, MaryAnn, I have posted a fabulous Mom’s Day tribute in the “Encouragement” section of this month’s WOW/GOW Newsletter. Enjoy!
Ladies, I want to thank you for your response to a get-together/conference. Most of you were all for it, but had conflicting scheduling problems. I wish I could accommodate you all, but alas, much as I’d like to, I can’t please everyone. So, I think we’re going to have to pick a date, time, and place, and then stick with them. Most of you requested a Spring date, but to do this, we’d have to postpone until next spring, as I would not have enough time to make plans for this Spring. No one wanted to fly in the winter (can’t blame you!), and summer was just too hopping busy for you (and me!). So, I will busy myself with making plans and keep you posted about the FIRST Annual (yes, I’d loooove to do this every year!) WOW/GOW Conference as time goes on.
I want to congratulate “Karena” in Ohio, a GOW who is now a WOW!! Happy marriage, Hon! Your description of your perfect wedding day sounded lovely! Anyone else with fabulous news to share, please write me, and I’d be happy to post it here in the newsletter. And DO send pics!!! :)
I was asked by a new website owner to submit an article for her site “GettingRemarried.com”. WHAT a fabulous wedding planner this site is! For all you GOWs out there with second wedding etiquette questions, or anyone who wishes more info on marrying someone the second time around, this site is for YOU!
Lastly, ladies, my membership with Authors Den is coming to an end soon. I can either re-up or simply get my own website. If I choose the latter, the newsletter may be interrupted for a month or two during set-up. Of course, I will let you know before this happens. If I do get my own website, I will send you all a personal e-mail with the link included.
(Anyone with web design experience, or know of someone who does, please e-mail me. I am a klutz with a capital “K” when it comes to all things computer.)
And how was YOUR month?
Questions Of The Month – APRIL (and your responses)
1.) Do you feel that your widower’s loss (of his late wife or late girlfriend) has changed him in any way, either for the best or worst, as a partner? Explain.
~~ Everyone around him says that it's changed him. I met him shortly after LW passed away, and they say he is very different. He is a man who is ALWAYS busy!! But now he tries to "stop and smell the roses". I believe it (her death) made it real to him - that time does not go on forever, and he wants to enjoy the time he has.
~~ I believe that the loss he has experienced and survived has made him much more conscious of others: their feelings, their losses, needs, and desires - almost to a fault, actually. He is a very successful businessman, but on the home front, he has a tendency to let his boys and family walk all over him. Who knows the ideology of that - guilt, weariness, and more patience than I could ever muster? Sometimes I wish he would toughen up a little. But, then again, we are in different places and I just make sure that I am not one to take him for granted.
~~ My fiancée and I have talked a lot about how his wife’s death has changed him - not only her passing, but also her presence in his life. He tells me a lot about what an impatient person he was before she came into his life. I can appreciate his growth (I wouldn’t have put up with him). He says more than ever that he is able to see what a blessing each day we have together is.
~~ Yes, I feel his loss has changed him! He is unenthusiastic to get married or have children despite him declaring his love for me.
~~ I feel that my husband's loss of his LW has made him a better partner. Don't we all do things better the second time around? Plus, he's learned to appreciate life more, having experienced such loss.
~~I do indeed feel that my partner's loss has changed him for both the better and for the worst. For the better, I guess, because he is viewing life in a different way then he used to. The challenges in his life have changed. He and I both believe that life is a learning lesson and everything that happens to you, whether good or bad, is for a reason, and it is up to you to learn from life's experiences. He is learning how to deal with the loss of his wife in a positive manner. He is also learning how to handle having to talk to his 5-year-old daughter about her mother's life and her death. He's also become more laid back about things that in the past used to upset him. The loss of his wife has also changed him for the worst in the fact that he's become jaded in a way. For example, once when talking about his past relationships, he told me about his girlfriend (before he met his wife) and how she chose her lifestyle over him. Then his wife died. After his wife died, he dated 2 other girls who pretty much blew him off. He now says that he's waiting for something to happen to us, so I guess in that way he's become a pessimist. If only he knew that he's the greatest thing has ever happened to me and that I would never do anything to hurt him, only I don't want to say these things in a relationship that is so new… I don't want him to feel that I'm rushing him into anything.
~~ I don't know how his loss could not have changed him. It was so devastating. Since I didn't know him that well before her death I can't really say whether that experience has made him a better or worse partner. I do know that he is very aware of how precious our time together is and that it could be over in a minute. So from that standpoint I would
says he probably is a better partner. On the other hand....he is still in love with his dead wife. She is #1 and always will be. Sharing his heart with another woman (even though in spirit only) sometimes puts a strain on our partnership.
~~ I would say that -- YES, initially in our relationship I thought that because my widower had lost his wife (around 3 years before we started dating) he was a more attentive partner and more appreciative of me. During our first month of dating he said, "If I ever take you for granted, please slap me." This statement made me feel like he was thrilled to be dating me. As the relationship progressed some of his enthusiasm subsided, until eventually I felt that the relationship was not working anymore, perhaps due to his substance abuse problem of smoking pot. We stopped dating for several months, until he convinced me that he had given up smoking pot and wanted me back in his life. Our first month back together went very nice, but then over the next several months, it slowly seemed to feel like the passion and sparks were no longer there. It was hard to get the original enthusiasm for the relationship back.
~~ Yes, he has changed. I didn't know him then, but his niece (like a daughter to him) told me he has come out of his shell! LW was talkative and my man let her take over during the 20 years they were together. She even told him once that he would never make it in this world without her. Well, he has! He is doing very well running his own affairs and has become a very admirable man at 49. He has also changed his spending habits. Before he hated to spend his extra money...now he feels it is used better to enjoy life NOW!
~~ I feel it's closed him off even more. He'd avoided serious relations following a particularly nasty divorce from his college sweetheart. It took him years to find his LW and years to finally propose to her. Unfortunately, it was only 3 months after their marriage that she was diagnosed with cancer. It was a particularly vile form of cancer and he was her primary caregiver. While he was obviously loving and supportive of LW, friends relate that he was not always willing to share his feelings. It has become even worse since her death. He seldom speaks of his feelings and never speaks of the future. His motto is to "live in the moment” and doesn't understand my need for some reassurance.
~~ His loss has definitely changed him into an amazingly sweet person. He told me at the beginning of our relationship that the one thing he regretted about his marriage is that now that he has lost his late wife, he knows he could have loved her better. He spoils me to death and is so amazingly sweet and kind and loving to me. Dating him has been the sweetest months of my life. I wish he had never gone through the heartache and loss
that he did, but I know because of it, God has given me an amazing man. It makes me feel a bit guilty knowing that her death caused my benefit.
2.) Do you get along with your widower’s children? If so, what’s your secret? If not, why do you suppose this is?
~~ I am very close to his younger children (the ones at home). However, his older three kids make it clear I don’t "belong". His thirteen-year-old son leans on me for support and it is sad because it is so plain he still needs a mom. The other son (17) is never disrespectful and is trying to open up. He smiles at me alot more and tries to start conversations. The one who should resent me the most...the only daughter...is wonderful! I just picked up her prom dress for her. I also am helping her do a collage of pictures of her mother for her graduation party. The secret is this...I have NEVER pushed them. I let them come to me. I talk about their mother...I don’t act like it should be a secret that "bothers" me. I let them know how wonderful she must have been to have such great kids! The daughter summed it all up one day when she told my fiancé..." she respects mom". That felt nice!!
~~ He married a divorcee with 2 pre-teen daughters who were teens when their mom died. While their bio-dad was around, my guy was more a father to them. They absolutely adore him. I met them 5 years after her death and they could not have been more welcoming. Their mom wanted him to be happy and they saw that I did that. They are now in their 20s and have turned into delightful young women. We enjoy a great friendship, I think because I never went in there trying to replace their mom. I respected their relationship. It's now awkward because one is getting married in a few months and she has invited me to her wedding. Unfortunately, her step-dad and I broke up a little while ago and there is no chance of reconciliation. She knows this, but feels strongly that I attend. Who'd have expected that!!
~~ His two sons are grown and out of the house. One is successful in his career and marriage and is very emotionally supportive of his dad and his choices (me). Since he lives so far away, I try when he is home to let him know and see the love and respect I have for his father. The other son is not so supportive. He moved home for a while in the winter (uninvited) and it made things difficult and tense on everyone. For a grown man (21) he is selfish, manipulative, greedy, lazy, and very rude to his father. Other than that I think he is wonderful. He has an alcohol problem that goes noticed yet not discussed. I try to discuss it, but Dad has problems getting his head out of the sand to deal with it. This son is the under achiever, was Mom's favorite, and has caused countless days of worry and concern. I mention it now again in hopes that one time it will register, but these patterns were established long before I entered the picture. He, thankfully, lives close to his brother now and the interaction with us is minimal. I again support Dad and reinforce that he is not responsible for son #2's bad choices. It is best at this point in our relationship for me to be a quiet support. Now, if he moves back in…!!
~~ Getting along with the children...this has been an ongoing issue for me. My relationship with my stepdaughter is evolving and while I could write n entire book on this step mom adventure, for now I will say that I have learned to recognize and accept is that progress in this relationship is very, very incremental. It is also of the UTMOST
importance that I support her dad in his decisions for her, no matter how she reacts to that, because it really does give her a sense of security and groundedness.
~~ The children…Aaah. For me it has only been six months of marriage. The son (21) is great. The daughter (19) is lukewarm to cool at best. But it could be the age also. I try my best to respect their memories and fit in, but I still feel like an outsider. I'd love any advise from others here!!
~~So far I get along with my partner's 5 year old daughter. I have a 4-year-old little boy that she plays with so that helps. I also don't push myself onto her, I'm letting her warm up to me. I'm not distant, but I'm not all over her either. I'm not a stepparent so I can't answer the last part of this question!
~~ I get along well with his children. They have always been very nice to me and have supported their father's relationship with me. His daughter has said more than once how glad she is that I came into his life. It has taken 2 years but I think I have earned his grandchildren's affection also. Now his mother is another story.... My partner is supportive of me as a step parent and wants me to participate with him as a couple in whatever family event is taking place - birthdays, holidays, sport events etc.
~~ He has 2 teenage sons, who I have never really had any problems getting along with. One of his sons is the same age as one of my sons. They attended grade school together and belong to the same group of friends, even though they now attend different high schools. Something very disturbing was brought to my attention. Over the last 4 years of dating him I have sent many email letters -- very private and personal letters, meant only for him. He saved all of them and put them in a file in his computer that his sons had access to. In my opinion, that was not very smart of him. His sons, both the 15 year old and the 20 year old, have been reading my email letters over the last several years, and now it has been discovered that they have shared them with other friends who were at his home. His friends have told my 15-year-old son that they have read my "love letters." Needless to say my son is mortified and I am feeling violated, embarrassed and humiliated, but the damage is already done. Their father asked the 2 sons about it, but they both deny it. He also told one of our son's friends that it was very hurtful that this comment was said to my son. On our last dinner date out, my widower asked me if I would come to his home that evening and I told him that I did not want to see his sons -- ever again. I know that this is not a very mature reaction, but it was my honest feeling. He suggested that I confront his sons. I chose not to. Perhaps if my heart was more into our relationship I would have wanted to work things out with his sons, but I just didn't even want to deal with them at all. While their father has apologized to me for the whole thing happening, and has removed this file from his computer, this whole situation has not helped our already struggling relationship and less than a week after that discussion, we decided that it was time for both of us to "move on." We don't have hard feelings toward each other, but we both admit that the passion is gone and our relationship is going NOWHERE. In my opinion, I don't see how our relationship would ever work with the negative feelings I have for his 2 sons. It is time to end it, move on, and just be friends -- we are no longer dating as of last night and I feel fine about it. I guess that is a good sign to tell me this is the way it should be -- OVER.
3.) How do you and/or your partner recognize the LW’s death anniversary, if at all? Explain.
~~ The FIRST anniversary is May 23rd. This is looking scary! It is a month of firsts...mothers day...daughters graduation...her death anniversary. I can already feel the storm brewing...and I am scared!!!
~~ We were dating for one month when the first anniversary came around (We've
only been dating two months total, but it has been a very quick two months as I am thinking he may ask my father for my hand in marriage in a couple weeks). He had warned me the week before that it was coming up and asked me to please have patience with him if he did not call me that day. It was very important to me to be a part of whatever he was going to set as the tradition, because then I would always be a part of it rather than an outsider looking in. He ended up e-mailing me at work that morning (as we usually e-mail all day long) which was surprising, and asked me to call him that evening. We ended up talking about making our relationship more serious. I asked him how he remembered her that day, and he said that all he felt that he should do was to spend more time in prayer. It was harder on him than he had previously thought. One thing that I think is selfishly beneficial to me is that his late wife was cremated. Before I found that out, it was emotionally difficult for me to picture him at a graveside, crying over her body.
~~ We don't. He and his daughters have a tradition of going to the cemetery and then out for pizza afterwards. I've been invited, but I feel strongly that this is their time. She was part of their lives, not mine. I have no hard feelings; on the contrary, I think it's a wonderful way of recognizing her and remembering her spirit. They were a family and they should celebrate her life as one. Call me naive, but she's not nor has she ever been a threat to me. I just tried to keep in mind that he's "out of sorts" around the time of her death anniversary. I would hope that he'd be a little "out of sorts" if I died as well.
~~ We just experienced our first recognition together of her death on Valentine's Day. She has been dead now a little over two years. It was unique and I hope it will improve over the years. I sent him an email in the morning that said I was thinking of him and was here if he wanted/needed to talk or just sit and have a glass of wine. My wonderful man did ask as we were driving by the cemetery if I wanted to see where she was buried. What does one say? When I regained my ability breathe and to speak, I squeaked out, "Of course, babe". For some reason it was important to him. When we walked up to the headstone, I was once again unable to breathe or speak. It was the most beautiful black Italian marble with a shadow cross-carved out of the middle. And his name cut into it right next to hers. I was overcome with a barrage of emotions. Love for him, sadness for his loss, jealousy, insecurity seeing his name next to hers, grief. I have since gone back on my own and took her flowers on her birthday (a week later). I was so overwhelmed that first time I could not even process. The second visit I was able to start making peace with it all. She and I had a nice little chat. Actually I chatted and I hope she listened. We have not yet discussed the cemetery experience. I am sure that at some point we will. My selfish side is hoping that next year we will be on the other side of the earth.
~~ He still thinks about her birthday and he takes fresh flowers to her but it is his quiet time I do not ask to go with him.
~~ I don't recognize her death anniversary - I'm not allowed! She is buried 6 hours drive from our city and he visits the grave on her birthday and deathday by himself for several days. I've offered to visit with him but he has always turned down my offer. I usually busy myself for a few days so I don't have to think about him with her!
~~ This year, my husband forgot the anniversary of his LW’s death. He felt bad about that when I said something about it. It's not that he has forgotten her; he's just not good with dates and such. This year, I also did something new. I wrote a remembrance card to LW’s parents, telling them that I knew this anniversary was always a hard day for them, that I had them in my prayers, and that they could be assured that her memory would always be honored in our home. I also thanked them for accepting me and giving me a chance. I was surprised at what a positive response I got. I think they needed to hear these things, and I'm happy I took the chance and sent the card. I wasn't sure how they would react, but I'm learning just to follow my instincts and trust God with outcomes!
~~ My partner lost his wife only 5 months ago. She died from a rare form of cancer. She was about 28 years old. My partner just turned 30 last week. However, her funeral was on or the day before my birthday… as you can imagine, I'm wondering what that's going to be like. I'll be completely supportive during that time of course, but I have to be honest that I'm afraid that my birthday might be completely forgotten… and I don't think anybody likes to feel that way. Yes, it sounds selfish, but that's the way I feel.
~~ We don't recognize her death anniversary at all. In fact, I didn't know until recently what that date was. I wish he felt he could talk to me about it, but maybe it's better that we don't. I'm afraid it would end up being a hurtful experience for me and would only remind me (again) that I'm just a stop-gap between her death and his own.
~~ As for recognizing his late wife's death anniversary, we never did anything together as he spends those yearly anniversary days (7 of them so far) with his in-laws. When we were dating I would always comment that he and his boys were in my thoughts and prayers so that he would know that I was aware it was the anniversary.
~~ We haven't come to the LW's death anniversary yet, but in the past (when we were dating), I offered to go to the cemetery together, but they chose not to go at all. (If we do go it would be weird because I know that her headstone has a blank space for HIM to be buried!! We haven't addressed that one yet). In fact, none of the family goes to the cemetery, so I think there may still be some denial going on. Knowing when the date is important so I can be aware of any mood changes, etc. On that day I'll be particularly attentive and sensitive to notice their feelings. As a WOW for only six months, I'm noticing that everyone is in his or her own stage of grief recovery. The daughter, in particular, seems to still be in denial and/or anger. I think she resents me coming into the picture and being the new woman of the house. I'd love to hear any feedback or stories on how those bonds are forged.
QUESTIONS OF THE MONTH – MAY
OK, gals, send ‘em in! Pick one or answer all three…but DO share with us! Don’t make me bombard your e-mail with nag notes! LOL! Results posted in June Newsletter, due out May 26th….JDA
1.) If you have been married before, does your ex and your widower get along? Does your widower feel threatened by your ex or your relationship with him? Do you see any similarities between your issues regarding the late wife and your widower’s issues with your ex-husband? Explain. Have you ever compared your ex to your widower, either consciously (not aloud) or verbally (aloud)? How did the comparision make you – and he – feel?
2.) Has your previously widowed BF/Hubs ever come right out and told you that he loves you more than he loved his LW? How do you feel about that? OR…Has he ever told you the opposite (that he’ll always love her more)? How do you feel about that? If he’s never said a word either way, what do YOU assume his answer to the question “Who do you love more?” would be, and why?
3.) Have you ever felt like breaking up (or have you ever broken up) with your previously widowed BF/Hubs because you felt/feel that you may never be #1 in his heart? Explain. Has he ever broken up with you for the same reason? How did/does this make you feel?
4.) Has the loss of his late wife affected your widower’s spirituality and/or belief system, either in a positive or negative way? Explain. How does this make you feel?
~~Send in your responses via e-mail to email@example.com. Please do not use Julie’s messaging system through her website at AuthorsDen. Thank you!
This month’s DEAR JULIE deals with the late wife’s parents/family…
I have been married 2 months to my widower, and so far, everything is as it should be for newlyweds - blush! I still have my ups and downs in regards to WOW issues, but for the most part, Hubs and I discuss everything and try to work it all out. He is usually very supportive of my feelings, and I of his, but there is one aspect of our relationship that really burns me up – his former mother-in-law!
Every time I see her, or if we are at a function where she will be, too, the LW’s mother makes a point of going on and on about her daughter - how wonderful she was, and how much everyone (including my Husband!) misses her – not just to me, but within earshot of as many ears as she can! It’s so embarrassing for me. But the worst part is this: if Hubs is with me when MIL starts her trips down Memory Lane, he does nothing in my defense! He will nod his head in total agreement with everything she says, even slip an arm around her waist in support! Of course, she always manages to end up in a puddle of tears, and often, Hubs has had to escort her to a private room or area where she can let go of her emotions. Then, the two of them will huddle together all night, making me feel like such a total outsider.
When I try to tell Hubs how I feel about this, he gets angry and brings on the guilt, saying I am not being very compassionate about a woman who lost her only child (LW). ARGH! Of course I feel for the woman, but there has GOT to be more to life than grief, and more to talk about (and make a scene over) in mixed company than your deceased child.
Julie, am I being totally selfish, or do I have a right to be upset? How can Hubs and I work this out amicably, without guilt and anger?
Remarrying a widower, or dating one, often means accepting that he comes as a “package deal”…former in-laws included! A great percentage of GOWs and WOWs say that the late wife’s parents are still very much a part of their husband’s life – much to their chagrin.
If the LW left children behind, the LW’s parents (the kids’ grandparents) often feel the need to step in as “mother substitutes”, becoming more of a presence in their grandchildren’s lives. Therefore, they feel protective of the kids AND their father – the WOW’s husband – as well. Their intentions are good, but because of their own grief, the former in-laws are sometimes unintentionally myopic in their treatment of a new woman in their son-in-law’s life.
Early in a WOW’s experience with the former in-laws, she may find the LW’s parents self-serving and selfish. And the former in-laws may feel the same about the WOW, too. A new woman in the widower’s life can represent to these folks a threat to their daughter’s memory, an upset in the balance they have worked hard to achieve in their daughter’s absence, and an intrusion into the delicate friendship they have nurtured with their daughter’s bereaved husband. And the former in-laws represent to the WOW a constant reminder of the past, a woman her husband still loves, and issues she is desperately trying work through.
But let’s step outside the box for a moment and imagine ourselves in their shoes (It’s always easier to understand another person’s motives when you do this exercise):
Imagine that you are a parent with a married adult daughter. Being the great, loving mom and in-law that you are, you have come to feel for your son-in-law as a son. Then your daughter dies. Your grief is excruciating and insurmountable. The only person who comes close to understanding your pain is your son-in-law, so you cling to each other in a desperate attempt to keep your daughter’s memory alive. For whatever the reason, your bond with your son-in-law becomes stronger because of your daughter’s death, and he is more of a son to you than ever before. You feel protective of him, not wanting any further pain to enter his life. You feel conflicted about him dating: on one hand, you want him to be happy, but on the other hand, you are afraid that he will forget your daughter, and that is inconceivable to you.
Enter the GOW/WOW. She is fabulous, but in your mind, not good enough for your son-in-law since he already HAD the best – your daughter. He seems happy, but is he? Will he ever be?
(Now, can you almost understand their treatment of you based on this imagined scenario of your widower and his late wife’s family? If this scenario rings true regarding the in-laws in YOUR life, there are two ways you can deal with this issue. Let’s return to the imaginative roll playing therapy to see how your actions will bear on the former in-laws’ acceptance of you…)
1.) But wait a minute…she (the GOW) is kind. She allows and encourages your grandchildren their memories of their mother. She stands by your son-in-law as he works through his grief. She offers her support and understanding to you, saying that she will always allow her husband – your son-in-law - the memory of your daughter in her home. She sends “Thinking Of You” cards to you on the death anniversary of your daughter. She comforts you when you cry grieving tears, even those that appear out of nowhere without warning. She invites you to every family occasion, holiday gathering, and special event. She listens sympathetically as you speak of the love you have for your daughter, and how much you miss her. She has cleaned out her mouse, but offers you a chance to take some of your daughter’s things. While she is not your daughter and never will be, she starts to feel like family to you. You start to understand why your son-in-law loves her. She is not a threat. She is not the enemy. If anything, she enables everyone to love both your daughter and herself at the same time. You love her, not as much as your daughter and not in the same way. But you love her nonetheless, and accept her new role in your son-in-law’s life.
2.) Your fears about her are true. She is unkind. She will not allow your grandchildren to speak of their mother. She will not tolerate your son-in-law or anyone else to speak of your daughter in front of her. She will not allow your son-in-law to have contact with you. She ignores you every time you see her. You feel uncomfortable and unwanted. She offers no compassion for you, a parent who has lost a child. She views your daughter as “the past” – something to “get over” and forget. She tries her best to break the bond you have felt with your son-in-law in every way possible. You have become an outsider. She makes him take down your daughter’s pictures. She cleans out your son-in-law’s house of your daughter’s things. Never bothering to ask if you would like to have anything, she takes your daughter’s things to the dump as if to ceremoniously dispose of your daughter’s memory once and for all. She is the enemy who is trying to erase your daughter’s memory from your son-in-law’s mind, and you must fight back if only to remind her that your daughter’s life had meaning and purpose, and she was loved by many. So, you cease every opportunity to keep your daughter’s memory in her view. You talk about your daughter incessantly in front of the new woman. You cling to your son-in-law at every gathering, hoping the new woman will see that you represent your daughter’s memory that must never be forgotten. You can’t help it when you cry grieving tears, but you enjoy making the new woman uncomfortable about them. And the bonus in this is that your son-in-law is also reminded of your daughter and his obligation to her memory. You feel manipulative, but her threat is so strong and your grief is so huge that you can no longer think rationally, nor do you care to. You hate her.
If you take away one thing from this exercise, I hope it is this: most people will respond in kind to whatever your actions. If you act as the enemy, you will be treated with animosity, resentment, and sometimes, revenge. If you act as a supportive, selfless, understanding, compassionate woman, you will be treated with respect and acceptance. Being a GOW/WOW often means putting your own issues in the back burner to support those with the bigger grief. Of course this is never easy, and you may often end up feeling worse for the time being. But in time, the big picture becomes more of your focus: your kindness will go a long way to earning the trust, respect, admiration, and respect not only of the widower’s former in-laws, but also of your boyfriend/husband…and ultimately, yourself.
~~Do you agree? Disagree? Have some advice to help this reader? Got a question for me? Let me hear it! firstname.lastname@example.org
SHAMELESS PLUGS AND OTHER ANNOYING AUTHOR STUFF…
~~~I recently received word that my book “PAST: Perfect! PRESENT: Tense! Insights From One Woman’s Journey As The Wife of a Widower” is a finalist in a very prestigious book contest, sponsored by ForeWord Magazine. The contest, called “ForeWord’s Book Of The Year for 2003”, awards a gold and silver medal to the top 2 contenders in each genre (my genre is “self-help”). This award is to writers what The People’s Choice Award is to actors. The winners will be announced on June 3rd. Just being a finalist is quite an honor, since they receive over 10,000 entries each year. Please pray that my book gets recognized on June 3rd so that the word will go out to those GOWs and WOWs who need it.
~~Places to read Julie’s stuff / Julie In The News:
**Lionsong Website Features An Excerpt from Julie Donner Andersen's Book for Wives of Widowers - To view the article, please click to: http://lionsongpublications.netfirms.com/widowed.htm
**Julie Donner Andersen Featured at Christian Mirror Publications website - To read the article in its entirety, please click to: http://christianmirror.com/widows.htm
**Julie Donner Andersen featured in an interview on Quietpoly.com - To access the interview and sample writing, go to http://www.quietpoly.com/quietpoly/nov2003/featauthor-juledonnerandersen-sophia.html
~~~Ladies, I’d LOVE to see your reviews of my book show up at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca (Canada), and/or BarnesAndNoble.com. If you have a moment today, would you please visit my book at these online bookstores and leave your comments? Promoting books on online stores is by far the best way to reach other WOWs and GOWs, letting them know that REAL people are being comforted by it. Thanks a bunch!
JUST FOR FUN…
Things you shouldn't do at a funeral:
1. Tell the widow that the deceased's last wish was that she make love with you.
2. Tell the undertaker that he can't close the coffin until you find your contact lens.
3. Punch the body and tell people that he hit you first.
4. Tell the widow that you're the deceased's gay lover.
5. Ask someone to take a snapshot of you shaking hands with the deceased.
6. At the cemetery, play taps on a kazoo.
7. Walk around telling people that you've seen the will and they're not in it.
8. Ask the widow to give you a kiss.
9. Drive behind the widow's limo and keep honking your horn.
10. Tell the undertaker that your dog just died and ask if he can sneak him into the coffin.
11. Put a hard-boiled egg in the mouth of the deceased.
12. Slip a whoopee cushion under the widow.
13. Leave some phoney dog poop on top of the deceased.
14. Tell the widow that you have to leave early and ask if the will can be read before the funeral is over.
15. Urge the widow to give the deceased's wooden leg to someone poor who can't afford firewood.
16. Walk around telling people that the deceased didn't like them.
17. Use the deceased's tongue to lick a stamp.
18. Ask the widow for money that the deceased owes you.
19. Take up a collection to pay off the deceased's gambling debts.
20. Ask the widow if you can have the body to practice tattooing on.
21. Put crazy-glue on the deceased's lips just before the widow's last kiss.
22. Show up at the funeral services in a clown suit.
23. If the widow cries, blow a trumpet every time she wipes her nose.
24. When noone's looking, slip plastic vampire-teeth into the deceased's mouth.
25. Toss a handful of cooked rice on the deceased and scream "MAGGOTS! MAGGOTS!" and pretend to faint.
26. At the cemetery, take bets on how long it takes a body to decompose.
27. Goose the widow as she bends over to throw dirt on the coffin.
28. Circulate a petition to have the body stuffed instead of buried.
29. Tell everyone you're from the IRS and you're confiscating the coffin for back-taxes.
30. Promise the minister a hundred dollars if he doesn't keep a straight face while praising the deceased.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Her husband had passed on and the new widow was so distraught that she sought out a spiritualist who told her that her husband was just fine. She added further that he was eagerly awaiting a reunion with her.
"Is there anything he needs?" the distraught woman asked, between tears.
The spiritualist went into a transient state, then replied, "He says he'd love a package of cigarettes."
"I'll send a carton immediately." the woman said joyfully. "But did he say where I should send them?"
"No," replied the Seer somberly. "But he didn't ask for matches."
* * * * * * * * * * *
To get acquainted with his new Parish, the Priest decided to call on some daily. One he selected was a young widow, her husband, according to the index card, had died two years ago. After knocking at the door, he was greeted by a young lady with a baby in her arms. He said, "I'm sorry, I must have the wrong address, I was looking for the widow Laffitte."
"You've found her Father." smiled the lady.
"Well, according to the card here, it says your husband died over two years ago." he said glancing at the baby in her arms.
"That's correct Father, he surely did... but I didn't."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * **
During a recent outing, Jennifer wanted to visit a fortune teller of some local repute. In a dark and hazy room, peering into a crystal ball, the mystic delivered grave news.
"There's no easy way to say this, so I'll just be blunt: Prepare yourself to be a widow. Your husband will die a violent and horrible death this year.”
Visibly shaken, Jennifer stared at the woman's lined face, then at the single flickering candle, then down at her hands. She took a few deep breaths to compose herself. She simply had to know. She met the fortune teller's gaze, steadied her voice, and asked
her question: "Will I be acquitted?"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * *
One day three women were at a beauty parlor talking about their husbands. The first woman says, ''Last night, my husband said he was going to his office. But when I called, they said he wasn't there!''
''I know!'' the next woman says, ''Last night my husband said he was going to his brother's house, but when I called, he wasn't there.''
The third woman says, ''I always know where my husband is.''
''Impossible!'' both women say, ''He has you completely fooled!''
“Not so,” said the woman. “I’m a widow!”
From the “Dating In Midlife” website: http://www.datingatmidlife.com/qandabelove.html#widower
Subject: Dating a widower
Question from: Laura S.
Dear Dr. Belove,
I have been dating a 61-year-old man who has been widowed 2 1/2 yrs. We are planning to be married and I find I don't know what to say to his children regarding their mother and his deceased wife. I'm worried about showing our happiness in public. I want to respect his late wife's memory and somehow express my sorrow, but also show my joy. They were married 33 years. Any comments would be most appreciated.
Respectfully, Laura S.
Simply that you would ask shows me that you are a sensitive soul. I'm sure that you will exercise good judgment here. My first thought was to wonder what kind of a relationship you already have with your friend's children. I would hope it is a kind and open one already and that they are happy for their father, or at least supportive.
You are right to be concerned. Many would feel and expect a longer mourning period after a 33-year marriage. On the other hand, if married life suited this man, I could also understand his eagerness to return to it.
The best rule is to allow them and other family members time to become accustomed to your new role in their lives. They have not had the many conversations you and your partner have had. They will need time to catch up with you. Be patient.
I would expect them to have some concerns about their mother's property, given the enormous package of legal rights you will acquire as a result of being married. This is natural. It is natural that children have some concerns about you joining "their" family.
I think things would go well if they were assured that they will have as much say-so as they wish and that this will be a matter between them and their father and that you will step aside and let them settle it.
Many unresolved feelings, resentments, anger, sadness -- the inevitable of family life -- will resurface. The announcement of the wedding could be stressful for your husband. It could create a renewed period of mourning. The best you can do is become an island of loving and appreciative calm through this process. What you do not want to do is attempt to increase or alter the cleansing flow of emotions.
It is probably in the context of this sorting out of the memories and possessions that you can best realize your first goal, to make a slow transition. If you are an open, interested and appreciative audience, the children will welcome you by offering their stories. It is a form of welcoming more natural and profound than sharing food.
Thank you and good luck.
~~Philip Belove, Ed.D.
(I am Philip Belove, Ed.D. I’m a psychologist with a focus in marriage and family. I’m also a workshop leader, a university lecturer in courses in communication and a mid-life man who’s learned a thing or two the hard way. Five years I began research, small surveys, interviews, clinical practice and academic reading on the topic: Dating At Midlife. What makes it different? What makes it difficult? The resulting book (in process), the articles, the columns, the questions and answers, the speeches, the courses (always being re-designed), the specialized counseling and coaching practice, and this web page are some of the fruits of my work: a systematic way of understanding, and responding to the challenges of dating at midlife. Welcome to the Dating At Midlife web site!)
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
This is for the mothers who have sat up all night with sick toddlers in their arms, saying, "It's okay honey, Mommy's here."
Who have sat in rocking chairs for hours on end soothing crying babies who can't be comforted.
This is for all the mothers who show up at work with spit-up in their hair and milk stains on their blouses and diapers in their purse.
For all the mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes. And all the mothers who DON'T.
This is for the mothers whose priceless art collections are hanging on their refrigerator doors.
And for all the mothers who froze their buns on metal bleachers at football or soccer games instead of watching from the warmth of their cars.
And that when their kids asked, "Did you see me, Mom?" they could say, "Of course, I wouldn't have missed it for the world," and mean it.
This is for all the mothers who yell at their kids in the grocery store and swat them in despair when they stomp their feet and scream for ice cream before dinner. And for all the mothers who count to ten instead, but realize how child abuse happens.
This is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and explained all about making babies. And for all the (grand)mothers who wanted to, but just couldn't find the words.
This is for all the mothers who go hungry, so their children can eat.
For all the mothers who read "Goodnight, Moon" twice a night for a year. And then read it again. "Just one more time."
This is for all the mothers who taught their children to tie their shoelaces before they started school. And for all the mothers who opted for Velcro instead.
This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and their daughters to sink a jump shot.
This is for every mother whose head turns automatically when a little voice calls "Mom?" in a crowd, even though they know their own offspring are at home -- or even away at college.
This is for all the mothers who sent their kids to school with stomach aches, assuring them they'd be just FINE once they got there, only to get calls from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please pick them up. Right away.
This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can't find the words to reach them.
For all the mothers who bite their lips until they bleed when their 14 year olds dye their hair green.
For all the mothers of the victims of recent school shootings, and the mothers of those who did the shooting.
For the mothers of the survivors, and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror, hugging their child who just came home from school, safely.
This is for all the mothers who taught their children to be peaceful, and now pray they come home safely from a war.
What makes a good Mother anyway? Is it patience? Compassion? Broad hips?
The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner, and sew a button on a shirt, all at the same time?
Or is it in her heart?
Is it the ache you feel when you watch your son or daughter disappear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time?
The jolt that takes you from sleep to dread, from bed to crib at 2 A.M. to put your hand on the back of a sleeping baby?
The panic, years later, that comes again at 2 A.M. when you just want to hear their key in the door and know they are safe again in your home?
Or the need to flee from wherever you are and hug your child when you hear news of a fire, a car accident, a child dying?
The emotions of motherhood are universal and so our thoughts are for young mothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation... And mature mothers learning to let go.
For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers.
Single mothers and married mothers.
Mothers with money, mothers without.
This is for you all. For all of us...
Hang in there. In the end we can only do the best we can. Tell them every day that we love them. And pray.
NEWS OF THE WEIRD
Old news is still relevant news!!….JDA
From Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,102415,00.html Thursday, November 13, 2003
Scott Peterson Called Himself a Widower, Detective Says
MODESTO, Calif. — The same day he bought a fishing boat that would provide his alibi when his pregnant wife vanished two weeks later, Scott Peterson told his mistress he was a widower planning his first Christmas alone, a police officer testified.
Detective Allen Brocchini, who launched the Christmas Eve investigation into Laci Peterson disappearance, said Scott Peterson bought the boat Dec. 9 — the same day Fresno massage therapist Amber Frey later told the officer that she confronted Peterson about being married.
hile Brocchini did not link the two events that happened that day, he provided the pieces of the puzzle prosecutors are assembling to show Peterson was plotting the demise of his wife weeks before he returned from his Dec. 24 fishing excursion and reported her gone.
Brocchini's testimony Thursday in the preliminary hearing revealed the details he gathered from the day Peterson claimed he was motoring his 14-foot skiff on San Francisco Bay to his arrest nearly four months later in San Diego.
Peterson was arrested driving a Mercedes convertible be bought for $3,600 cash, using his mother's name, "Jacqueline Peterson."
When asked about the peculiar name, he told the seller it was the name his parents gave him, Brocchini said.
In the first hours of the investigation, Peterson denied he was having an affair, Brocchini said. Peterson never told him about Frey.
On Dec. 30, Frey placed one of the hundreds of calls Modesto police received each day. Brocchini was watching a clerk type notes from the caller and decided to pick up the phone and handle the call himself.
The detective then drove 90 miles to Fresno to interview Frey, a single mother.
Frey said she met Peterson on Nov. 20 and he said he was single. But she later became suspicious and confronted him about three weeks later because she thought he was married.
"He said he lost his wife, this would be the first holiday he was without his wife," Frey told Brocchini.
Peterson called Frey on Christmas and the following three days, Brocchini said. At some point, he told her he was out of the country and would be able to spend more time with her after Jan. 25.
Frey began taping their phone conversations for police, and investigators tapped Peterson's phones for evidence.
(The following book info was gathered from Amazon.com):
I'm Grieving As Fast As I Can: How Young Widows and Widowers Can Cope and Heal
by Linda Sones Feinberg
Paperback: 180 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.55 x 8.46 x 5.50
Publisher: New Horizon Press; (June 1994)
THE ONLY BOOK FOR YOUNG WIDOW/ERS, July 23, 2002 Reviewer: Cochrant from Little Rock:
Losing my wife to Breast Cancer at 31 and having to raise a 1 1/2 year old girl in a small mid southern town, I was never at a loss for advice, judgment, or rumors. I was trapped in a group of well meaning people who had no idea what it was like to be a young widower. I felt guilt from people judging me, yet they had never walked in my shoes. I went to grief meetings and had nothing in common with the 60, 70, 80 year olds that were grieving their past. I was grieving my lost future and nobody could understand it. I wanted to start dating and people thought I was callous and snubbed me. I read books that were written for old widows with maybe a chapter on widowers and maybe a sentence about people under 50. A lot were spiritually based and being in the spot I was my spiritual beliefs were a little ragged. Then I found this book and it truly CHANGED MY LIFE. I underlined half the book, nodded in agreement, cried, and even smiled. Perhaps other books have been written since but I never found another book that spoke to all of the issues that a young widow/er faces. I have given this book to others who have suffered a similar loss and they felt the same. The Author doesn't judge and the book is not a template. It gives you the permission to grieve any way you want to and lets you know that there are a select group of people that are in the same position as you and feel the same way you do. Four years after my wifes death I still cherish this book. If you are grieving and nobody seems to understand you or know someone in this horrible position this is THE book.
The Enlightened Stepmother : Revolutionizing the Role
by Perdita K. Norwood (Author), Teri Wingender (Author)
Paperback: 464 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.13 x 8.02 x 5.24
Publisher: Avon; (March 1, 1999)
About the Author
Perdita Kirkness Norwood, stepmother to four now-adult children, is a stepmother advocate who leads support groups, focus groups and workshop on the subject. She lives in Connecticut.
Becoming a stepmother is a life-altering event in any woman's life. The issues are extraordinarily complex and women are overwhelmingly unprepared. Yet concerns usually focus on the effect remarriage has on the children. The Enlightened Stepmother approaches the subject from a totally new perspective -- that of the stepmother. Based on information -- sometimes controversial -- from stepmoms of all ages, occupations and lifestyles, who know from experience what works, what doesn't and why --
What you need to know about your new family before you become part of it.
How to get off to the right start. (It's hard to change a relationship once you've taken the path of least resistance.)
How to prevent, rather than cure, the stepmom's classic pitfalls.
What you need to recognize about your relationship with your husband's children.
How to handle relationships between your kids and his.
Why you need to give your marriage top priority.
How to make sure others are aware that this is your life too.
Why you need to develop a working relationship with your stepchildren's mother.
How to understand the inevitable stages every stepfamily passes through.
How to overcome the guilt of not loving -- or even liking -- your stepchildren.
How to avoid feeling guilty in circumstances over which you have no control.
Why a successful stepfamily is as unique as every stepmom.
AND MUCH MORE!
Legal mumbo jumbo:
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Note from Julie: As always, please feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone you feel it may help, or share it with your widower.
I’m just an e-mail away…J.D.A.