Thursday, April 18, 2013

Until Death do You Part

"Are you seeing anyone?" Our telephone conversation about safety-deposit boxes completed, my banker/casual friend from back home posed a question I've been asked more than a few times in the past 3 1/2 years.

"No, I thought about it, but I don't think it's for me. I just don't think I could sit with someone or a group of someones rehashing everything over and over. I journal, though, and writing has always been my version of therapy," I responded.

"Therapy? No, I meant are you seeing anyone. As in dating."

I stammered and stuttered, shocked at the question. At the very idea. Dating? Me? Why? I somehow managed to simply say "no, no dating", and we moved on to talk about our kids before hanging up.

That phone call took place yesterday, but it's been playing through my head ever since. The shock was quickly replaced by indignation. How could she think I would be dating again . . . or ever? I love my husband and can't imagine going on a date with anyone else. While eating lunch with a colleague/mentor today, I mentioned that I was feeling a big cranky and related the conversation and that I felt a bit insulted by the question. I tried to explain why. I love my husband. I have no desire to ever date again. And besides, I'm married. Well, widowed, but you know what I mean. 

My colleague looked me straight in the eye and gently said, "But you aren't married any more. You were married 'until death do you part'." Silly as it sounds, in the 3+ years since my husband died, that had never occurred to me. I've never thought of myself as "unmarried" or "single". I'm "widowed", aka "married, but my husband has passed away". In fact, I was filling out a form recently and got to the section about marital status. I looked, then double-checked, but there was no box with "widow" typed next to it. I simply made my own box, put a check in it, and wrote "widow" next to it in very neat, precise letters.

Thoughts of the conversation with my banker/casual friend have been replaced with thoughts about my marital status. I need to ponder this before I'm ready to share, but in the meantime, I'd like to pose a few questions I've been contemplating this evening.

1. Should I move my wedding ring to my right hand? What will my kids say? Will they even notice?

2. Should I continue using "Mrs."? I don't care for Ms (I'm not even sure it's used anymore anyway), but Miss doesn't seem right, either.

3. What is the correct term to use when referring to my husband? If I'm no longer married, I no longer have a husband. If I use his first name, coworkers and friends that were not a part of my life before his death have no idea who I'm talking about.

There's no right or wrong answer, of course; each of us who have walked this path has to come to the answer that works for them. But I'd love to hear your thoughts on these, or any similar issues you've dealt with. If you prefer not to share publicly (via a "comment"), feel free to share your thoughts in an email to me at



  1. I think those are good thought provoking questions. I think if it were me I would still call myself Mrs. and refer to my husband as my husband but I guess say my late husband or explain that he has passed. I would not move my wedding ring either - of course in my situation I can as we have tattooed wedding rings but if I still wore a regular ring I would not want to move it. Those are just my thoughts and whose knows those thoughts may change if I am in that position.

  2. Angela, thank you for sharing! My ring is still on my left hand -- I'm just not quite ready, plus I'm not sure why I would do it. My friends say it's to signify that your marriage is over, that you're "available". But I don't want to send that signal! :) And even if I did, I don't go anywhere that the signal would be received. lol You have tattooed rings? I'd love to see yours! There's one part of me that would love to get a tattoo -- when I share that with people that know me, they're really surprised, maybe because of my age, my occupation, etc. I don't know, and I'm afraid to ask. :) I still go by Mrs., but I hadn't even thought of saying "late husband", and that's perfect! I totally missed that {shaking my head}

  3. it's really difficult to think about it - so very good questions! I agree with "late husband". I think I also wouldn't move my ring as for my it's a symbol of our marriage, and this marriage still "exists". It's like being somebody's daughter - one is still that person's daughter even when he/she is dead. So you still can be your husbands wife, even he is dead. And that's what the ring stands for - at least for me. of course, one could also say that you don't need the ring to keep that in mind ... but the main thing is, that you keep your ring as long as you want, no matter what message/signal it sends.

  4. Good points, Daniela. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this!