Author Topic: Hereditary Widowhood  (Read 1648 times)


  • Member
  • Posts: 120
  • Some Bunny Loves you DB
Hereditary Widowhood
« on: March 11, 2015, 07:48:41 AM »
Pardon the title, I couldn't think of a better name for it.

While discussing loss with a fellow wid and member, I started to think about the loss that preceeds my personal loss in my family.

22 years ago, my mother woke up to find her husband had passed in his sleep due to complications of ALS. I was 7 years old. I didn't really understand loss at the time. I knew he was sick, and I understood in a way, that he was gone from our lives. I think being as young as I was made it slightly easier to swallow. My mother had only been with him 18 months. At the time 18 months seemed like sort of a long time, in hind sight I know that it was no where near long enough for her. A year or so later, my mother remarried. I did not get it, at all. How could she forget my step dad that quickly, and just move on. I think now I have more of an understanding about the whole situation. She isn't 100% happy in the marriage, but I think for her, it is better than being alone.

20 years ago my grandmother and step grandmother became widows in the same day. My grandfather was killed by a drunk driver in the late hours of the night. My step grandmother had lost her husband and the man that brought her a small family to call her own. My grandmother had lost the man who gave her her children and helped mold them into the wonderful people they grew up to be. Both women had had my grandfather in their lives for a considerable amount of time. I know for my step grandmother, even that amount of time was not enough. They were so happy together, that was very plain to see. 10 years after my grandfather passed away, my step grandmother started seriously dating a widower. They are still together and are very mad for each other.

8 years ago, my grandmother passed away on Valentine's day. After the divorce from my grandfather, and even after his death, she did not remarry or pursue a committed relationship. She was fiercely independent and knew she could navigate the rest of her life on her own.

These 3 women all suffered the loss of their love. They each dealt with the loss in different ways. One remarrying out of convenience, one finding herself a widower who understands loss, and one remaining alone and independent. My mother told me recently that she still misses my step dad and talks to him on occasion. My step grandmother talks to me alot about loss. I go to her because she understands the sudden loss I have suffered.

.... not sure why I am sharing this, I just thought it was interesting after giving it some thought...
B.H.S. 1-20-1974 - 11-13-2014

You will always be my Jack and I will always be your Sally. For we were simply meant to be.


  • Guest
Re: Hereditary Widowhood
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2015, 08:11:10 AM »
This is an interesting topic. After reading your post I realized that each person in my family who has been widowed has remained single. No relationships, no remarriage. Huh. My paternal grandma was widowed when I was 12, my maternal grandpa a short time later, and my aunt was widowed before I was born. All three of them remained on their own. My dad has been widowed 11 years and has chosen to remain single. He's the only one still living.

Interesting to me because I, thus far, have not had the desire to pursue another relationship. I always say if it happens, it happens and if it doesn't, it doesn't. But I wonder if seeing everyone in my family before me make the choices they have, has influenced me in a way.

Of course, I could be completely over thinking this. Wouldn't be the first time.


  • Member
  • Posts: 986
  • Location:Indiana Widowed:2/4/14
Re: Hereditary Widowhood
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2015, 09:39:11 AM »
My mom died just three months before my husband. (ALS) She was 63. My dad hasn't dated. I don't think he's ready yet, but he is open to the idea.

My paternal grandfather died when he was 39. My dad was 5 and had 4 siblings at the time. My husband was 39 when he died, and our youngest daughter was 6. One of my daughter's fears is that she will forget her dad. My dad tells her all of the time that he is 65 years old and he still remembers his dad. My grandmother had a few loves before she remarried. She had two more children with that husband, then they divorced. He died soon after their divorce. She remarried a third time and has been with him for over 20 years.

My maternal grandfather died when I was 2. My grandmother never remarried. She was very bitter. They didn't have a good marriage.

My uncle died when I was 10. My aunt was around 40 years old. She remarried.

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." Dr. Seuss


  • Member
  • Posts: 322
Re: Hereditary Widowhood
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2015, 12:13:59 PM »
My late husband's father was killed in a car accident when he was seven. His mother (my MIL) was just 33. She dated but never remarried and is still alone (as far as I know b/c she isn't part of our life - long, irritating story).

LH was always sure he would die young, "All the men in my family do" he would say and sure enough he was right.

However, he had definite ideas of what I should NOT do as a widow based on his observations of his mother.

My MIL has issues that she carries from childhood that widowhood simply made worse, but three things that she did as a widow really formed LH's opinions of do's/don'ts.

She stayed single. He thought this was a mistake for her and for him because there was never really any happiness as a family again for either of them. Just loneliness. Feeling different and isolated. And, financial struggle (not endorsing LH's opinion that marriage is good for financial reasons but that's what he believed).

The other thing is that she "sainted" her LH, who was anything but a good husband/father (he was barely a decent person just judging from the stories LH told about him). She set him up as to perfect to replace and this made it difficult for her to date or for LH to bond with the one guy she did date seriously.

The last thing is that she expected LH to grieve as furiously as she did. LH was seven when his dad died and the man was abusive. LH's feelings were always conflicted and his mother's expectations of preserving a false memory of the guy didn't help.

So LH told me, "if I die young, I want you to date, marry and allow your next husband to be a father to any kids we have."

Basically he said, "don't get stuck".

It's interesting in retrospect because my widow role models - while most didn't remarry - were strong, vibrant mostly happy confident women. Widowhood was just something that happened to them but it didn't beat them down. Does that make sense?

So between LH's "blessings" and advice and my own family observations, I viewed my own widowhood has simply something that I needed to make my way through to the next chapter of my life.

I was impatient and I had missteps but I never doubted (completely) that I would not date, remarry and build a new life.

This is an interesting conversation because I think how we saw widowhood before becoming widows does impact our path.
This is not the droid you are looking for.


  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 1077
  • Jim: 7 April 1974-10 April 2014
Re: Hereditary Widowhood
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2015, 01:28:23 PM »
I come from a line of strong southern women, along the lines of Julia Sugarbaker from Designing Women. I'm ashamed to say I never thought much about their personal losses until you brought this up, Sally.  :-\  They all coped in their own ways, like your family, and I'm proud of them-- but I don't like to think I'll end up like them. It scares me, actually-- maybe I'm weak and can't live up to the family legacy.

My maternal grandmother married my grandfather in 1934. He died of lung cancer in 1978, after they'd been married 44 years. My Granny "kept calm and carried on" for 8 years after that, on her own, until she remarried a widower-- she and my grandpa had been friends with him and his wife. It was more of a convenience and companionship thing than anything else, but they got along fine and filled the holes in each other's lives. Then he passed away in 1993 or so, and my grandma went down the wid road again. I always sort of assumed she was at least a little relieved (terrible thing to think!), because he'd gotten old and crotchety and demanding. She died in 2002, and I like to think she was reunited with my grandpa.

My paternal grandmother was a bit of a wild woman. She married my grandfather and had my dad, but cheated on her dh during WW2 and had my aunt. My grandparents divorced in the 1950s, but didn't tell their family, and then secretly remarried. They divorced again for good a few years later, and Nana was briefly married to someone else. That ended within a couple years, and although I'm sure she dated, Nana never had another committed relationship. She did, however, engage in a torrid affair with her boss (and I'm pretty sure she blackmailed him to boot!), and when he died, I suspect she felt very much like a widow. They were together (in one fashion or another) for 20 years or so.

Her sister, my great aunt, lost her dh after 22+ years, right before I was born. Everyone always talked about my uncle as though he were still around, and Aunt Helen never dated or pursued another relationship. She was independent, traveled all over, did what she wanted-- but I think she was still grieving for Uncle Henderson until her dying day  in November 2011. She lived 37 years as a widow, which blows my mind.

It amazes me at the strength I see in those who have gone before me-- and in all of you as well. I don't know if I can live up to that legacy. I know I don't want to be alone the rest of my life. I don't know if I'll ever have another option. :-/

It all sort of reminds me of that Eleanor Roosevelt quote: "Women are like tea bags. You never know how strong they are until they're put in hot water." (I'm willing to concede that it applies to men too.) Guess all we can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and see where we end up...
I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other. ~Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

"Dying is easy. Living is hard. ~George Washington, Hamilton


  • Member
  • Posts: 75
Re: Hereditary Widowhood
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2015, 07:18:01 PM »
My dad's mother lost her husband when she was in her early thirties. My dad was only 10 years old. She never remarried. Just this past Sunday she said, " I wish Bennie was still here." It made my heart ache. He's been gone almost 50 years and she still misses him.

My other grandma was widowed in her 50's. She still misses her husband daily. She also never remarried. Neither one of them can drive, they have no independence. I do not want that to be my future.
There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. - Hebrews 4:7-8
Alex 1/31/91-7/19/12


  • Member
  • Posts: 31
Re: Hereditary Widowhood
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2015, 07:26:49 AM »
Interesting food for thought. Like Little Birdie, my family 'role models' for widowhood  remained single. They were all older though. Widowhood was viewed as a temporary state that must be endured with grace for a few months- couple years tops- until they too passed and could rejoin their spouses in whatever lays beyond this world.

No one in my family was widowed young. My husband's family had a few. ( That should have been a clue) But, ya know, they are my inlaws, hence crazy.  No role models there. Most made very poor second choices they ended up regretting.

I was 48 with decades before me.  I was clueless. I'm still clueless almost 3 years later. Clearly, widowhood for me is not a small blip in my life 's timeline.

What to do. What to do?
Now I have loved you like a baby,
Like some lonesome child.
I have loved you in a tame way,
And I have loved you wild.

Ever thine. Ever mine. Ever ours. KLM 7/11/55 to 4/24/12


  • Guest
Re: Hereditary Widowhood
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2015, 09:21:41 AM »
I'm still clueless almost 3 years later.

I feel like this sentence sums me up pretty completely. Definitely not a small blip.