A Life Alone: Adjusting to Being a Widower

A recent widower recently emailed me the following:

Dear Abel,

I’ve been going through your blog, and I was wondering what your response would be to learning how to be single, or being a peace with being alone first. You’ve pointed out several times that widowers jump into a relationship to possibly fill in a void, and in that case, perhaps an explanation as to how you dealt with being alone during the first few months would be helpful.

I lost my fiancé a month ago, and I am figuring out how to go through this myself.


Mark (name changed)

First, I’m sorry for your loss. Adjusting to live without someone who has been a major part of your life isn’t easy. I hope what I share can help you and others find that peace you seek.

In my case, I had a difficult time adjusting to life without my late wife and didn’t handle it as well as I could have. Even though I did some things right, the biggest mistake I made was jumping into serious relationship thinking it would heal my heart and solve many of the issues I was working through. Instead it caused more problems than it solved.

Based on what I learned from that first year alone, here are four things I suggest other widowers do that can help make the adjustment easier and help find that inner peace the recently widowed seek.

• Keep busy. Nothing is worse for the recently widowed than sitting around with nothing to do or watching endless amounts of TV. Dive into a hobby or that can keep you focused and busy when you might otherwise find yourself alone with time on your hands. I found solace in blogging and gutting and rebuilding a home. It kept me busy and distracted during the first few months after her passing. I might have gone crazy if I didn’t have those two activities to fall back on.

• Give your life some structure. Our lives generally fall into a series of routines. When we lose a spouse many of routines are disrupted and destroyed. Getting back into a routine gives life the structure that helps keep us sane and focused. One of the best things that happened in the months following the LW’s death was that our two best friends invited me over every Wednesday night for dinner. This went on for 6-8 months. Having dinner with them was the highlight of my week. It gave me something to look forward to. So find friends to hang out with or other activities that you enjoy that can put some basic routines back in your life.

• Find ways to help and serve others. Many people are going through unemployment, divorce, financial problems, and many other things. Whether it was mowing a neighbor’s lawn, helping someone move, or volunteering with a church all helped me forget my own problems and helped me feel connected to the community. Though you may not think their trials are same level as losing a spouse, forgetting about yourself and helping others is a great way to keep yourself grounded and realize that despite your own trials and difficulties, you still have many things to be thankful for.

• Peace and acceptance comes from within. Keep in mind that staying busy or starting a new relationship by themselves isn’t going to bring you peace, comfort, or acceptance. They’re simply tools to help you go on from one day to the next. Eventually you’re going to have to go through the inner struggle of accepting your loss and being okay with starting a new chapter in your life. It’s not the easiest process but coming through the other side and realizing that life is still worth living and there’s lots of joy to be had is worth the struggle. Don’t be afraid to start that journey.

I hope this helps, Mark, and I wish you the best as you embark on a new chapter in your life. Keep in touch.

Abel Keogh 2012

Abel Keogh

More Articles Written by Abel

Abel is the author of the relationship guides Dating a Widower: Starting a Relationship with a Man Who's Starting Over and Marrying a Widower: What You Need to Know Before Tying the Knot as well as several other books. During the day, Abel works in corporate marketing for a technology company. His main responsibilities include making computers and software sound super sexy, coding websites, and herding cats. Abel and his wife live somewhere in the beautiful state of Utah and, as citizens of the Beehive State, are parents of the requisite five children. Learn more at http://www.abelkeogh.com.


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  • Rozario Raj says:

    Dear Abel,

    I am from India and just about a year ago, my wife of 23 years suddenly passed away due to a heart attack on 14th December 2011. Today on 8th January we would have celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. I came across your blog etc when I was browsing the net for something to say in tribute and in memory of my dear wife on this special day. I have gone through your 4 suggestions that you mentioned. Yes, you are right. Keeping yourself busy does help, but the real loneliness gets to you during the nights especially when you are alone with your thoughts that the memories haunt you. It is during these times, I have found that prayers help and the thought that she is with GOD and in a better place resting.

    Thank you and God Bless

    Rozario Raj

    Thank you

  • JRod says:

    Dear. Abel
    I have been dating a widower for eight months. It is four years since his wife passed. He then got into a relationship with a woman 20 years younger for two and a half years, 11 months after his wife’s passing. Then one month after that relationship ended met me. He is going through depression and battles with letting go of guilt and the past. Also with the relationship that ended prior to ours. He still wears his wedding band on his necklace and has pictures of his spouse on his cell phone, in his house in every room and every car. I fell in love with this man and find it difficult to let go. he tells me that he loves me. I don’t know what to do.

  • Brandon says:

    This was a very good read and I agree with your suggestions. I lost my late wife December 11, 2012. Just over two months from our second child’s birth, two weeks before Christmas, and one week before our 8th wedding anniversary. She passed at the age of 31. This almost destroyed me. I wish I had more focus on this list of suggestions but I am happy my friends and family pushed me.

    I almost drank myself to death. At night my thoughts and grief would consume me. The only relief was drinking it away to pass out. This began to get out of hand. One night, the day before Mother’s Day I attended a wedding. I drank so much. I had drank all day long and really heavy that night at the reception. This did not end well. I totaled my car about two miles from my home. I could have easily killed myself and others. I am so thankful.

    I changed my whole life after that. There were more important things to be done besides me being this way. I began to focus on my fitness, my finances, and my two children that I had ignored out of guilt but the one thing that really changed me was finding my fiancée. Brandi brought me out of my darkness and showed me that love and happiness can get a second chance.

    I got my second chance because of her, I am happy and my children are happy. We are happy. I want to honor my late wife by living a better and more focused life on our new family Brandi and I are working to create. And yes, it’s work, on both of our sides. This is us now and it’s good but we want great.

  • Steve Lamb says:

    I’m going to get to the point:
    1) My wife is not my “late” wife, she’s early (in getting to heaven).
    2) I am still married. I live here on earth, my wife lives in heaven.
    3) I still love my wife. I WILL see her again.