On Friday, March 21, 2003, eight widows shared how they rebuilt their lives after healing.
Tom’s note: This article is as powerful in 2016 as it was when first published 13 years ago
No one doubts how debilitating losing a spouse is. But it is equally as important to focus on how people have rebounded to continue living their lives after their loss.
Today, eight widows share what they've done – after healing – to rebuild their lives.
Kay of Mission Viejo has kept herself busy since becoming a widow 13 years ago.
"I was 50 when my husband of 31 years died. I'm going to Palm Springs for 'Films, Follies, Fathers' in April and the Carmel Valley for Chopin and John Steinbeck history in June.
"I've taken a five-year (weekends only) course in personal property/antique appraising. Now I'm a certified appraiser. I also passed tests for my ham radio license."
Joanne, 58, of Fountain Valley was married for 27 years and has been a widow for 12. Joanne says, "My husband and I had the typical relationship whereby the man does manly things and the woman does womanly things."
Joanne says she's learned to pump gas, change oil, wash the car, live on one income, run the power lawnmower, pay the bills, handle the teenage children and make repairs.
"I've learned what a screwdriver, hammer, pliers and nails are for and have become proficient using them.
"I've come a long way from being that protected, naïve woman. I'm more educated and have the confidence to handle anything that comes my way."
Cheryl of Huntington Beach said: "I'm right in there with the rest of you: middle-aged (53), a widow and looking.
"I recently met a wonderful man the old-fashioned way. No online dating involved – never liked the idea. We met in our local grocery store.
"I've found the best way to meet people is to start a conversation. You never know if the person you're talking to is the one you've been looking for all along.
"If someone of the opposite sex is turned off by your pleasant conversation, that person isn't the one for you anyway."
Jane, also of Huntington Beach, said: "My husband passed away just before my 50th birthday. Last August, I went to a wedding and ran into a former acquaintance. We hit it off immediately and now live together.
"I'm confident and secure with myself and happy in all aspects of my life, more so than I ever remember. I never thought I'd be saying that at 55 years old."
Pat of Fountain Valley e-mailed: "I'm still recovering from the loss of my husband a year and a half ago. Healing takes a lot longer than I believed. Maybe I will not heal and be ready to move on for many years yet.
"One thing that has helped, I have many wonderful male and female friends, who have kept in touch and often invite me to do things with them.
"And last but not least is the white American Eskimo puppy named Renoir I adopted last Christmas, who sleeps beside me every night and who gets me to go for a long vigorous walk every day, rain or shine. He's also helped me meet new people who stop to pet him or let their children play with him.
"Having a dog is a good way to expand your horizons!"
Marilyn of Fullerton was 50 when her husband died six years ago. Marilyn shared: "I had a very hard time for about two years. I've discovered so many things about myself.
"I've met several nice people at a health club and am involved with our homeowners association.
"Most importantly, I've discovered that I like my own company, have a very full life and that being alone doesn't frighten me.
"It would be wonderful if someday I meet Mr. Right, but if it doesn't happen, I know I'll be just fine."
Anita of Placentia e-mailed: "Eight years ago, when my husband passed away, my mother advised me to give myself two years before getting involved with another man. She said, 'Allow time to heal and to get to know yourself.'
"After healing, during healing, I learned that being alone wasn't necessarily lonely. I have lots of friends I enjoy doing things with. And I like being my own person with my own schedule. I miss things that couples do, but I now find it difficult to compromise my freedom."
Diana of Poulsbo, Wash., wrote, "I met a true gentleman on the Internet four years ago. We're both widowed and have been for several years.
"Because of the distance between us, the relationship has grown slowly but surely. We see each other every two or three months and take trips together. Not today's idea of instant gratification, but a slow and wise moving toward a later-life loving relationship."
Hats off to these widows, who have demonstrated that with the right attitude, determination and resiliency, people can recover from the most devastating of blows and rebuild their lives.
Jacquie of Irvine: "Thanks for the interview with Mark Victor Hanson. I have his newest book. I waited on him at my church's bookstore (Unity of Tustin) a few years ago. I love to volunteer."
Mary of Laguna Niguel: "What do you think of Dr. Laura? You were mentioned on her radio show." Response: Apparently, Dr. Laura doesn't approve of my position on older adults living together without being married. I don't listen to her show.
Bob, Rancho Santa Margarita: "Any comment on Dr. Laura's comment?" Response: Nearly 50 readers commented. Much of what they said can't be printed in a family newspaper.
Things to do: Here's a fun and unique date idea. Go to Dana Point Harbor and rent a kayak with a date at Baby Beach. Be sure each has a life jacket on.