I am staring at a form to renew my passport.
We are leaving for Greece in a couple of months, and I forgot to renew it with my new last name. Darn it. The form isn't complex, but I am struck by the marital status question. I am married and so happy about that. But there was a period when I marked the Widow box, and it was hard to get used to it. Now I get to celebrate being Married, but I want to mark both. That is the correct answer. Being a Widow doesn't stop. By marking Married, it feels like it is negating my life before. I know they only need my legal status, not my life story, but this question on the forms makes me pause every time—one of those tertiary effects.
I mark Married and feel I am dismissing my first husband, Mike. Like he didn't matter. Then I immediately felt terrible that I thought about him when I was marking Married, which is with my husband, Paul. And I love him.
Someone once told me that being widowed and remarried is like simultaneously holding two loves in your heart. So true. And I would add – feeling bad about it often. I shouldn't – but it's a practice.
Starting anew after losing a spouse is a difficult journey, but finding love again and getting married can bring joy and companionship back into your life. Here are some suggestions when navigating the transition into married life after widowhood:
It's essential to acknowledge and process the loss of your previous spouse before moving forward with a new relationship. Take the time you need to grieve and honor their memory. But you can only do your best. You'll make mistakes and have some gains. Embrace the process.
If you wish, be open to love. Don't close yourself off to the possibility of finding love again. Allow yourself to be available to meet new people and build connections. The possibilities are endless, and you have a beautiful life to live.
Communicating openly and honestly with your new partner about your past and feelings is essential. They will likely have questions, and transparency's vital to avoid misunderstandings. This part feels messy and uncomfortable, but you're the expert on how you feel and what you need, as are they with their experience. So be the teacher and the student.
You will probably need your new partner to understand that your previous spouse will always hold a special place in your heart. Continue to honor their memory and keep their legacy alive; however works for you. There are no rules.
Build a new life together: As you move forward with your new partner, create new memories and traditions. Build a life that honors your past but also embraces the future.
Remember, there's no right or wrong way to navigate getting married after widowhood. You know better than anyone what you need. Take the time you need to heal, be patient with yourself, and trust that love will find a way.