SWF Widow Seeks New Love

“Online dating?” I said, trying to keep the sound of horror out of my voice. “Seems impersonal.”

“It’s kind of fun,” my colleague was saying. “You write a profile and post a picture and guys email you if they are interested.”

“Wow” I managed, trying not to sound shocked that my demure colleague engaged in such activities.

“Sounds easy enough… Has anyone emailed you?” I queried.

“I was emailing this one guy and then we went on a date,” she said. “But I haven’t heard from him since.” She was trying to sound light hearted, but I could hear her disappointment.

“That must be a problem…” I trailed off.

“You should try it,” she cheered. “You’ll have a million guys writing you.”

After months of prowling the man-site anonymously, I resolved to write a profile about myself. Artistic? Creative? Smart? Insane? Everything I wrote sounded ridiculous. Tall, attractive (?), sexy (?), 9/11 widow, mother of two, hasn’t dated in eighteen years, seeks handsome rich prince who loves kids and is not afraid of a ghostly dead husband in the closet…

My choices of photos were limited due to the fact that I was the photographer in the family. There was the coy one, with my baby daughter and my grandmother, both of whom I would have to crop delicately out of the picture. And there was the demure photo, posing smartly for a corporate newsletter in a turtleneck.

But where were all my sexy shots? I sneaked glances at the other women’s profiles, to see what I was up against. Even the 50-year old women looked sexier than I could ever imagine being. I settled on the coy-girl-next-door-with-cropped-out-baby-and-grandma-shot.

I posted my profile and photo to the website and then waited for some kind of response. Almost immediately, I got a few “winks,” one from an elderly looking gentleman claiming to be 44; one from a man showing his nude torso wearing his firemen’s boots and suspenders, and one from an orange-tanned jock with no neck.

Deciding to take matters into my own hands, I browsed the site as though I were in a giant man superstore: Nice eyes, but too pudgy; funny profile, but too short; great in every way but a smoker; tall and handsome, but doesn’t want kids; wonderfully intellectual, but weird bulbous nose; sincere, but can’t spell.

My eyes were beginning to glaze over when one man caught my eye. Widowed architect, loves to garden, lives in Manhattan… I spent two weeks working up the nerve to write him an email. What to say? Hello fellow widow person. Isn’t this a strange club to belong to? I am absolutely terrified of dating, and still love my dead husband, but would you consider going out with me?

Finally, I wrote him: Hi! (Trying to sound upbeat). Loved your profile (Flattering the ego). I like to garden too (Showing common interests). I look forward to hearing from you (positive, yet non-committal). Regards, Abby.

I waited for a response. And waited. And waited. I am still waiting. It was humiliating. I retreated from the man-site to lick my wounds. My worst fears of being “un-datable” were being realized. Now I was the one who was too tall, too widowed, too many kids, too unsexy, too something.

I had to admit that I was lonely for companionship, plus my kids begged me regularly to have a “new” daddy. I think though, that my biggest motivator towards rushing fate was my determination not to waste a moment of my life. If Arron’s death had taught me anything it was that there wasn’t time to sit around waiting for life to happen to me. I resolved to push fate along by making the effort to get myself out into the world by whatever means necessary, no matter how painful it might prove to be.

My palms were sweaty as I maneuvered the car into a space near the coffee shop where I was to meet my … dare I say it … date. I sat and breathed for a few minutes staring at my hands on the wheel, trying not to panic. Oh God! The wedding ring! I had forgotten to remove it. What to do? Stuff it in my purse? My bra? I stared down at my hands admiring the chunky gold band on my left ring finger. It seemed to cling adoringly to my hand. I slid it up my finger and the shiny white skin that was revealed seemed to cower like a snail without its shell. I hesitated. I pulled the ring all the way off and held it in my hand. I had forgotten how heavy it was. I slipped it onto my right hand ring finger, struggling to push it over my knuckle. I held my hands out to survey the effect of this transition. Both hands felt strange and backwards, like they weren’t my hands at all. They seemed sad and alone — the hands of a single woman.

I wiped a tear from my eye. “I’m sorry Fab.” I had betrayed my husband Arron’s (Fabbo to me) love with my bold, impulsive move. I had done it unceremoniously, sitting in a car. No music, no pomp, no kisses, no smiles. Just a cold, grey New Jersey December sky to accompany my small ceremony. I recalled another in-car ring ceremony.

Arron’s wedding ring had been his father’s pinky ring, which though beautiful with his father’s initials embossed into its pink gold, had proved to be problematic as a wedding ring over the years, given that he wore the ring on his left pinky finger.  I had always wanted him to have a regular ring finger wedding ring, but had deferred to his wishes when we were married, knowing the sentimentality he held for his father’s ring since his father’s death when Arron was 17.

Arron and I had sat in this same car on a warm and sunny Saturday with the kids strapped into their car seats in the back. We had waited while Arron dashed out to the jewelers and came back clutching a small blue velvet box. He opened it and held the bright, shiny ring, which we had chosen together up in the sunlight, ready to slip it onto his hand. “Shouldn’t there be a little ceremony, or something?” I had said.

“OK. Here.” He handed me the ring. It was a lovely gold band, strong and simple.

I slid it slowly onto his ring finger, smiling at him and then kissing him gently when it was in place. He held up his hand and we were both pleased with the effect. I loved Arron’s hands – strong, creative, sensitive, loving. The ring was beautiful and I felt proud being bound to him by it.

That simple little ceremony felt like an instant renewal of our love, something secret between just the two of us. I still have his father’s pinky ring, which I will someday give to our son. Arron died wearing his new wedding band.

Now, staring at my own hands, grey in the dim light of the mid-winter morning, I mourned him once more. “It’s just coffee,” I told myself.  I hoped that my first-ever blind date would not notice the glaring whiteness of my loss, wouldn’t see my hand shake as I held my teacup. I hoped my voice wouldn’t crack when I answered the inevitable question,… ”So, how did he die?”

I touched my thumb to my ring once again for reassurance as I opened the coffee shop door.

Special thanks to Abigail Carter, author of “The Alchemy of Loss: A Young Widow’s Transformation” for sharing this piece with us.

Photo Credit.


  1. Kristine said on February 7, 2012 at 10:10 pm ... #

    I love this piece, Abby.

  2. Mary Kate Cranston said on February 8, 2012 at 12:53 pm ... #

    This piece is beautifully written. Please write more. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Colleen said on February 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm ... #

    i’m dying to know what happened with the date!!! please update us!

  4. Linda said on February 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm ... #

    Beautiful – brought tears and laughter – I experienced the same feelings when I put my wedding ring on my right hand. Yes, the date?

  5. Patti said on February 23, 2012 at 3:43 pm ... #

    I loved reading your story. I still am wearing my wedding ring and know it is going to be extremely hard to take it off.

  6. Angi said on February 24, 2012 at 12:58 am ... #

    I sat here reading this, teary-eyed, and also wondering if you put your ring on your left hand again and drove off…or did you finish the date…or is this something not to be spoken of, ever? (So said my cat.)

  7. Jenn said on February 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm ... #

    This sounds similar to my situation. I have 2 kids, one that’s 2 and one that’s 9 months and I lost my husband in October. I am having a lot of those same emotions. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  8. Patty said on February 26, 2012 at 12:18 pm ... #

    I love your story, and understand what you thinking and feeling. I also struggled with taking that step into the “dating world”. I flirted with the idea for a couple of months, it lifted my spirits as I thought I could feel beautiful and possibly appear beautiful to another man. I did secretly feel as though I was betraying my husband. I even felt ashamed to visit his grave. Therefore i stopped and decided it’s not for me even after 3 years I’m not ready.

  9. Janet said on March 1, 2012 at 11:14 pm ... #

    I too have been trying the internet with no luck and I too have wondered if I’m even “dateable” after all these years. I did move my ring to my middle finger where it will stay forevery. Even if I do find another man, that ring will stay put because he will always be a part of me – that won’t change.

  10. Tara said on March 8, 2012 at 2:41 pm ... #

    There is hope ladies! I could not even imagine dating until a little over a year after my husband passed…..then I turned 40. Something clicked and I thought “if the situation was reversed, I’d want him to remarry. A woman to help raise my 4 kids, to give him and them the love they deserve.” So, I did the online thing for a few months. I was going to give everyone a chance, because I didn’t know what I wanted this time around. Well, I cried after each date, then gave up. These men were horrible, Losers! After a few months, I went back with a different attitude, “I know the type of man I am comfortable with, the kind of man I want, one like my husband.” So I searched for someone with all the same characteristics that I loved about my husband (with a couple of tweeks).

    Long story short, I am engaged to a wonderful man that I met on eHarmony. He makes me laugh, is a wonderful father to his own 3 children (yes, we will have 7!), and when people I know meet him, they say they see a lot of my late husband in him. And you know what? That’s what makes him so perfect for me.

    You are not looking to replace your husband, just live a full and happy life again. You will know when you are ready, and not before. It’s different for everyone. Just know, Love is out there waiting for you………

  11. Wendy Sefcik said on March 9, 2012 at 6:51 am ... #

    What a poignant story. I could feel your emotions as they paralleled many of my own feelings. I lost my first husband, Jay, in a terrorist attack 24 years ago and never imagined I could find love again. This was before online dating and I had not even opened myself up to the idea of dating again when I met an amazing man at work who became a good friend. He listened to me ramble on and on about my husband and I found myself laughing again. Simple trips out for an ice cream cone become more frequent. Months later he said, “I know you’re not ready to date, but when you are, I’d like to be that man.” Well I hadn’t realized that somehow he had crept into my heart and I soon realized this friendship was something much more. We married 20 years ago and named our 2nd son after my first husband. I have been blessed to find love again and was never made to feel I had to leave my first love behind. Jay has always remained in my heart and part of my family. Stay open to love and I believe it will find you—even if you have to work at it a bit. 😉

  12. Bethany said on March 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm ... #

    What happened on the date???? You are killing me!! LOL

  13. ruinedmyday said on May 8, 2012 at 7:18 am ... #

    I have a bulbous nose…I will never be good enough. I will always be considered as “that guy with a weird bulbous nose” thanks a lot. :\

  14. alone in texas said on July 15, 2012 at 11:11 pm ... #

    I have been widowed 8 years now. I had two wonderful relationships since then … the first one died 6 months into the relationship with colon cancer and the second one did not work out. Now I am not really looking but if GOD has someone for me I trust that I will find them. I enjoyed this story very much. I never felt like I was betraying my husband because I knew he would want me to be happy … whatever it takes. I knew he wouldn’t want me to be alone forever.

  15. Christina Smythe said on August 9, 2012 at 9:37 am ... #

    My beloved grandfather recently passed away and I was so devastated. I can still feel the sadness now especially when I see things that remind me of him.

  16. Kathy said on June 6, 2013 at 7:33 pm ... #

    Yes! Connected with each step… Learning to walk beside grief … Like I was writing how I feel… Thank you!

  17. Abby Carter said on June 6, 2013 at 8:28 pm ... #

    Gosh so many wonderful comments. Thank you all. I’m so glad it resonated for so many of you.

    It’s been many years since that first date. I dated on an off for almost 10 years! Gosh. Then, last year, on yes, Match.com I met a wonderful firefighter (the cliché is ridiculous).

    If you’re interested, you can read about him here:

  18. Pv said on March 15, 2015 at 8:36 pm ... #

    I tried the dating websites and I found a few men wanting to go out initially but never again after that. I think I am ugly and therefore will never find someone again. Being alone is hard but I have been on my own for 16 years since my husband died.

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