PaulaFB-1Widow. The word conjures up images of frail little old ladies in long black dresses, adjusting veiled black hats with bony crooked fingers, red-rimmed eyes imploring the heavens above. I like to think of myself as the updated version, Widow 2.0. There’s no such thing as a typical widow. We arrived at different times in our lives with unique stories to tell, but the common denominator of widowhood is strong. Although you may feel alone – you’re not. 

After you’ve had your fill of widow casseroles – So sorry your husband’s gone, here eat this – feed your soul here on my blog, and join the journey. You’ll find the best books to read, other widow sites to visit, and helpful links. You’ll get support enduring widow angst and gut-wrenching grief, surviving survivor guilt and dealing with the bullshit barometer. After experiencing tragedy, you may find yourself incapable of bullshit and diplomacy – that’s OK, we get a free pass.

90 thoughts on “WELCOME

  1. Hi, I just read your article in good housekeeping. As my eyes well in tears reading your story, I can relate. I’m not a widow of an alcoholic, but an adult child of one. My father, who was dying from hepatitis and cirrhosis, unintentionally killed himself if a drinking and driving wreck last week. The guilt of feeling was there something more I could do, to the anger for the mess he left behind. My father had 30 years of sobriety at one point, and to the day he died, I never saw him drink. It’s nice to hear stories, as I deal with this. Thank you!

  2. All I have to do is change Paula to Karen and your story becomes mine. It brings back all the unhappy memories and I cried while reading your article. It took me longer to resolve my guilt, five years with only $17,000 of debt and a deplenished IRA. But, I’ve survived and I’ve also met a man and I am so thankful that I can experience true love before I die. Thanks so much for writing that piece.

  3. My husbands name was
    Robert————————–sober 18yrs ———–then cancer took him……………………..

  4. Thank you for your piece in the Times. I tend to enjoy the “newsier” policy articles more, but I read yours twice. It was so smoothly written, and poignant in an elegant, understated way. Please write more. I would love to read whatever it is.

  5. Wonderful writing. Thank you for this. We are counseled to say it one time. “Go to Alanon. Give it a year. It’s a foundation for the rest of your life.”

  6. Thank you for your opinion piece in the NYT. I am a physician, six months divorced when my husband died of alcoholism. At the time, our son was four. As you can expect, divorce was a difficult, but necessary choice. I am a survivor…and so is our son. Despite this feeling of “accomplishment” in surviving…there is sadness, and shame, and guilt. Thank you so much for bringing this forward, for all of us who survive and plan to thrive.

  7. Thank you for such wise words.. I’m still involved with someone whom I feel has cheated on most of our marriage, but instead of a person, it was the bottle. He is now sober, because he has to be…he has liver disease. Me, myself knows it’s over, been over…he on the other hand thinks everything is just fine… tho we sleep separate and have been for over 5 years. I have a lot of anger, resentment for all the years I came second.
    Your read rang so very true to me in many ways…it really helps to hear others have been where you’ve been…and I’m not alone…
    Thanks again!!

  8. I am the daughter of an alcoholic. So, I do understand compulsive behavior and the shame associated with alcoholism. I really enjoyed your article and look forward to the memoir. The final thing that struck me was your name and hometown. I went to Mepham and knew that name. I lived in Bellmore for many years.

  9. Just read your article, “Surviving An Alcoholic”.
    I look forward to your memoir.
    Thank you for sharing your experience and your insights.
    Tiny Hewins

  10. Finally, 28 years after my first husband’s death from “acute & chronic alcoholic intoxication”, three days after his 37th birthday, some one has told my story, or a pretty close approximation. Happily remarried for 21 years, I still don’t know what to say if someone asks the cause of such a young death.

  11. Thank you for your article in the NYT today.I believe your words will help many people. I am so sorry for your loss and the losses of the other commenters here,

  12. My husband died two years ago and I still grieve. Although his lifestyle did not kill him it certainly led to his ill health. Instead of a wife I had become the mother. They say losing a child is the most difficult.

  13. As someone who only knew Robert in his professional life, I was saddened to read about his alter ego. Belatedly, I send you my deepest sympathy for the struggle you lived with, and wish I had been able to help both of you. I believe the writing you are doing will do much for others who are walking a similar path, both as widows and as widows-in-waiting. Namaste. BMK

  14. Good for you! Nicely done! My dad was an alcoholic and committed suicide at 52 and left my mom a widow at 49 – and get this – with 9 kids, the younger aged 9. That was 1978. Mom is now 85. She never even dated after that. I was 17 and the shame was comprehensive. Punk rock got me through the anger. But my mom started a widow and widower club and still plays bridge like 3 times a week. You should interview her. She is awesome. All the best! Bill

  15. Paula I am a recovering alcoholic with 44 years sober. You did your best and more in trying to help Robert. Your article is going to help many spouses and friends of alcoholics to realize the alcoholic can get and stay sober only if she/he wants it. Brian

  16. Thank you. THANK YOU. Seven years since and an addict son to deal with now. You have given me hope there might be a light out there, even if I don’t see it at present.
    You are a courageous woman and I know for certain that there are many more of us out there.

  17. Thanks for your NYT article. I’m not a widow yet, but I could be on the path. My husband is addicted to painkillers on and off for the last 8 or so years. He thinks nothing of drinking alcohol with them- he is in denial there is a problem. I’m trying to get as much support as I can now. Thank you for sharing your story, it really hit home.

  18. I just finished your article surviving an alcoholic. I just want to say thank you. I haven’t lost him yet but I know I will and it will be due to his drinking. It’s good to know that my conflicting feelings that leave me full of horrid guilt are ones that others have had.

    Thank you

  19. Thank you for sharing! My diabetic husband died a day after his Medicaid waiver was OKd in 2009. I separated after nine years to save my life but continued case management & advocacy. He was wheelchair-bound, had severe narccisistic borderline traits and verbally terrorized everyone. Last year I earned my master’s degree and got a new job. My life is just starting again at 65.

  20. Thank you for sharing your story in the NY Times. Everything you said resonated with me and I admire your honesty. You felt guilty for not leaving. I feel guilty for making him leave just before he died. They are two sides of the same coin aren’t they? Glad you found love again.

  21. Thank you so much. Words can’t express what it was like for me to read this. It is a healing, shining light to know you have great hope in your future. My husband is winding his way down from alcoholism after years of abuse. It took us a OMVI to get him there but we are finally on our way and I have hope again at last. Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you peace and happiness.

  22. Thank you so much for what you have shared in NYT. I am not a widow, but a recent “runaway” wife of an alcoholic. Many issues are the same, guilt, shame, BS, and much more. I hope that this, your writing, helps “the general public” to understand us better as well as other widows or “runaways” to get out of the emotional mess. So, thank you again.

    • Ah, so that’s what I was, huh? A runaway? Took me 9 1/2 years, but it finally happened. We divorced in 1972 and I don’t honestly think I’ll ever trust enough to live with a man again. However, I’m living a life that I like .. it’s calm, quiet and peaceful. I’m happy and grateful every day.

  23. A friend shared a post of yours on my Facebook page tonight. My 37-yr-old husband died last week of an apparent heroin overdose. I didn’t know he was using. I found him. I’m 41 and have a toddler. I feel relief amongst the sadness. I’m glad someone else understands.

    • Please believe your life will get better. And so will you. I promise you. Peace be with you and now you can give your child wonderful attention.

  24. Thank you! I sit here under the patio umbrella with my husband of 46 years, watching him drink more small batch highly rated alcohol coupled with craft beer, (does this make it better?). My heart breaks and your blog helps!

  25. Thank you for sharing in your NYT article. It was moving and helpful. I’m glad you are happy! You deserve it!

  26. Thank you. It helps to know that there is someone who understands. I just lost my husband to alcohol and drug addiction. He was 37 and I am 32. Thank you.

  27. Maybe you’ve finished “moving on” and don’t need the stories or confessions of those of similar circumstances, or maybe you take some additional comfort in hearing other’s travails, but either way I was glad to find your recent NYTimes column which brought me here. I lost my girlfriend–and then wife–to cancer two years ago this May. The cancer came after 11 years of hard core alcoholism that manifested from the beginning of our relationship. She was a college professor. I had lost my mother at age 79 to MS less than a year before. In the beginning, her drinking was a huge red flag, but I was no stranger to drinking myself, so I joined in and we “celebrated” together, until I found I couldn’t keep up with her episodes of unconsciousness, arrest by the police for DUI, rehabs, visits to the ER every few months and in between the frequent Jeckyl/Hyde episodes of irrational anger when she was tanked. I am still not over her, and I miss her terribly. I did not feel “relief” when she died, at home with me, under hospice. I do have survivor’s guilt. While I know I do not have the emotional or physical strength for another relationship with an alcoholic, at 57, I have mostly abandoned the possibility of even a healthy relationship to the universe. Maybe if it were to happen, it would help me put things, finally, in a perspective in which happiness is doable. I was told by my counselors many times to walk away. I couldn’t or wouldn’t, but it was my choice and I have no regrets about remaining until the very end. Funny, although I was often livid with anger towards her and fought with her while she was alive, I have felt no anger since she died. Two years later the hall closet is still full of her coats, and our bedroom closet half full of her other clothing. just can’t deal with it…yet. I’m still working on the premise that it’s OK for me to be happy again.

  28. Dear Paula, don’t want to be too forward, but what you’ve shared here is so intimate and so real and so raw, and TRUTH. I am sober in AA for 32 years, my dear husband for 30. I was so connected to your words as you described your efforts to help, cure, love. Though I am sober my family is not. My 80 year old mother walks to the mini mart and buys pints of Vodka very late at night, in her pajamas! My 40 year son sleeps in urine and vomit. He is angry and abusive. Oh God! If I could only…I am limited to the practices which will do no harm to those I love but, I can not help. I understand what needs to happen in the mind and spirit of an alcoholic to achieve sobriety, but I can not help. I don’t know you but if I did, I would hug you, and love you, and thank you for the courageous act of sharing the TRUTH.
    Ever, Angelag83

  29. I just read your article in the NY Times, I am the child and grandchild of an alcoholic. I am pretty much a tea totaler.When I was 18, I was blessed to find the love of my life, a non alcoholic, We married when I was 20 and were married for 24 years. My husband’s drinking was limited to a beer on warm summer evenings while tending the grill. On a cold winter night in 1987 his life was ended when an intoxicated semi driver crossed the highway median and crashed into his car.,severing his aorta. For years I worked for MADD speaking at Victim Impact Panels, working with the local board and helping other victims walk thru the legal process. Now, 28 years later, I find myself the mother of a 49 year old who is “drinking too much” and in denial about the potential of alcohol abuse. I think his drinking is partially genetic and partly from unresolved grief. My words of concern and advice fall on deaf ears. The fear that he will hurt himself or someone else never leaves. I find myself wondering which would be more painful to loose my son or have him take the life of another. Either of these outcomes would be unbearable. Although I have remarried a wonderful man. My grief is still very much a part of who I am and what my family has become.

  30. Thank you so much… I lost my partner to heroin in 1999. It’s even hard to write, but true. I felt similarly, though I also felt there were people who thought I had used drugs as well. Middle class, upstanding, the whole thing…. thank you for your honesty.

  31. My current wife is a surviving widow of an alcoholic. She married me ten years ago when I was 18 years sober. My own ex died from the same stuff years ago. Alcoholics who are 50 years old are lucky if they aren’t dead or have not killed someone else along the way. The wife and I consider ourselves to be among the lucky ones and so should you, Paula. —The best of everything.

  32. Paula I am so glad for this blog. I wish I had known about it 2 years ago when my husband died. He left me with over $350,000 in debt and now I have to review thousands of pages of credit cards showing hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on a girlfriend. Unless you have lost a spouse to an uncomplicated situation you cannot even know the true pain left to the widow. I even hate the title of “widow” I feel abused wife is more true.

  33. I was married to an alcoholic for 30 years. Initially I thought I could rationally point out to him how destructive his drinkng was as a husband and father. Eventually we established a terrible cycle of behavior: his drinking led to my seething anger which continued his drinking. When he told me he wasn’t happy (really?) and wanted out, I almost jumped for joy. I had gone to Al Anon for a long time so frankly my guilt had been erased by the Program.
    He remarried. We stay in touch. When he calls, I am very happy when the call ends. Ah. Peace.

  34. What a great idea, especially for you. You get to write about your personal journey, help others along the way, and entertain your friends, both near and far. Congratulations! Love you

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