Another widow



By Caitlin Kelly

He’d come through heart surgery and we were all relieved.

Then he died.

Sadly, his widow lives very far away from us and we’re not close enough friends that we would fly cross-country.

But our hearts ache for her, a funny and kind woman who helped me through some very tough times, long-distance, in 2014-2015.

This is the sixth woman I know who has been widowed in recent years — all of them younger than 70, many in their 40s or early 50s, with or without children.

Two died of that brute, pancreatic cancer. Two of heart attacks. One was a 40+ year relationship that began in high school, another a happy second marriage.

It’s the moment every happily married woman (and her children) dreads. We think it will happen, hope it will only happen, when we, or they, are old and wrinkled and have enjoyed decades together.

But sometimes we are robbed.

I’ve now been with Jose, my second husband, since we met through an online dating service in March 2000. We married in September 2011.

I cannot imagine my life without him.

Yet one has to.

So he created what we call the “red binder” — which I wrote about this year for the website It describes how to create this binder, which is meant to ease in all practical aspects, what to do after your partner or spouse dies: passwords, PINs, pensions, bank accounts, car leases and loans, mortgage details.

All of it.

Much as I know a lot about our finances and the details of our shared life, like many couples we also divvy some stuff up, so he handles some and I handle some.

Here’s the story.


Have you been widowed or become a widower?

How did you cope?


10 thoughts on “Another widow

  1. Linda J Marsa

    I assume I’m one of your six–widowed after a second happy marriage. Bill died of cancer so we had plenty of warning. Financially, the transition was very smooth because we had prepared. Which is a good thing because everything else hit me right between the eyes–the loss itself and the painful daily reminders, and the unresolved family issues (my husband’s family were awful people and even though I was never a fan, the true depth of their awfulness wasn’t revealed until after Bill died and they didn’t need me any more so they dropped all pretencse). So you should prepare as much as you can beforehand because the reality will drop you to your knees.

    1. Thanks for weighing in…

      I didn’t want to be more specific, but have thought of you and Bill many, many times. This past weekend it was a younger friend and…hideously — today is her birthday. We are left speechless and wish we had something useful to say to her…

  2. I have not, but it is beginning to happen to my peers and it really reminds me that we are all ‘temporarily’ on this earth for such a short time. I have created my ‘notebook’ for my daughters, to keep things very easy logistically for them, after my death. part of this has to do with the horrendous process of sorting things out after my mother passed away, leaving a very confusing path to follow.

    1. Good for you!

      Everyone I know — as Linda says — is so flattened and disoriented by grief (let alone nasty family business) that anything that will ease the process is very welcome.

      Jose has been super-responsible in this regard; my father has created what is likely to be a very difficult and contentious fight between 4 adult half-siblings, one of whom I have never even met.

  3. My husband and I didn’t realize we were unprepared until we had a conversation one day about what to do… in what order… He had ALWAYS said he “didn’t want anything….” but suddenly mentioned that as a vet he would like a bugler to play taps. I was like “honey, I thought you didn’t want “anything”..where do you suppose the guy’s gonna play taps… at our kitchen table? And so began a much more thorough, written planning for the inevitable.

    1. Jose and I have discussed where we want our ashes scattered…at a resort we love and have been to many times. For me? Hmmmm. Saks shoe department? KIDDING. Being buried seems foolish as we have no kids or grandkids to visit or mourn us.

      My maternal grandmother (who I blogged about here recently) is buried (ashes) in a Russian silver tea caddy in a Toronto park.

      Of course.

      1. Traveling the south for the past three years made me truly appreciate the “family plot.” To see generations of the same family (some dating back hundreds of years) all in one well tended area is actually so beautiful..but hey- that’s not our reality. My mom has told me she wants her ashes put in a hole with a tree planted there. I think that sounds grand for me as well.

      2. Believe it or not, one of my kids asked me if I’d dig up ‘my mom’s tree’ if I moved. The answer is no.. I guess I just don’t bestow magical, mystical or religious qualities to ashes. A tree is a gift for the earth, no matter where it is.

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