May 7, 2019

For the Man who is Brave Enough to Love a Widow.


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For the man who is brave enough.

For the man out there who is brave enough to love a widow, know that if she is open to accepting your love and returning that love, she is also brave—braver than any other woman you will ever know.

Please don’t try to fix her. She’s not broken.

In some ways, she is more put together than she was before loss, because she feels more deeply, she has more self-awareness, and understands the meaning of life in a more profound way.

If she is choosing to love again, then she has been through her worst and she is ready to have the courage to open herself up to vulnerability—the vulnerability of love, potential loss, and heartbreak.

Sometimes she may appear broken though. There will be moments, days, and waves that will wash over her and take her breath away. She will survive them, she will breathe again. It’s not your job to save her, but to offer her your hand when she’s drowning and your warmth, love, compassion, and support when she reaches the shore.

Please don’t make it about you; it’s not, and it doesn’t mean she loves you any less. In fact, your patience and support will make her feel strong, safe, vulnerable, and able to share her emotions. She loves deeper now and will want you to pull her into you.

To love a woman who has been to true darkness, the depths of pain, is no easy task.

She will need a warrior, but not in the sense of fighting her demons or fixing her pain, so please don’t try. You won’t be able to fix the sadness, reminders, the special days that might make her retreat from you. Just hold space if she needs it, and know she will be back to you once she feels what she needs.

She needs you to love her scars, to see that the scars actually make her more beautiful. She needs you to be willing to see into her soul.

She needs you to accept the admiration and love she still feels for her late husband, that love does not change after death, that she still has a portion of her heart that belongs with him, and that she loves him today as much as the day he left.

To know that doesn’t mean there is less space for you, but rather her heart expands when she decides to be brave enough to open it again. That, just like having multiple children, she will have room for all of them.

In fact, she loves bigger, more deeply, with more acceptance, more compassion. She knows the value of loving and being loved in a way that others cannot.

Her heart has expanded 10 times with gratitude, for the love she had, for being alive, for all of her blessings. She sees life through a filter that is pure, raw, authentic, and vulnerable.

Those deep scars can also mean that she feels fear more deeply and she needs you to be a safe space for her and reassure her, even when her fears seem unreasonable.

If she accepts your love, you are special. Because she has survived the worst imaginable loss, she knows that she can be alone; she doesn’t need you, she just wants you.

If she loves you, then you have cracked open a wall that she built to be safe, to never feel the pain of loss like that again. Acknowledge that vulnerability every day in the way you show up for her.

Let her say his name, and you should say it too.

If she wants to share stories, be okay with that. He is not your competition. Learn about him, respect him—she will love you more deeply for it.

Her grief is a part of her. If you didn’t know her before her loss, trust me, she is changed, the very core of who she is changed forever. Her grief lives inside her bones, it flows through her blood, it has settled into its permanent home.

If she has children, know that the weight of responsibility she feels is unlike any other parent. She feels guilt that she couldn’t protect them, she feels overwhelmed with responsibility, and she carries her children’s grief with her own in layers.

If her children are young, she may need you to be a co-parent with her. If her children are older, she will want you to be their friend and hopefully a mentor. Mostly, she will need to lean on you while working through her children’s issues.

If you love her, you are choosing to love them too, with their broken hearts.

The beauty of loving this woman is that she has depth—the kind only attained through extreme pain and healing. She will be your soft place to land, your home, your biggest support and greatest love.

You will make her a priority, you will not leave her wondering, you will not be unsure, and if you choose her, you must be ready to love, to be raw, exposed, real, and vulnerable.

In return, you will receive the kind of love that most people don’t experience—a true, connected, and fierce love that you have only dreamed of.

You will be admired with gratitude every single day. You will get a woman who is okay with being late if it means a longer kiss, a tighter hug, or staying in bed just a little longer, for she knows those moments are the big things in the end.

You will get a woman with magic in her soul, longing to live a full, big life, with freedom and adventure. She knows life is short and that rules no longer apply.

You will get a woman who is passionate in everything she does. Some of that passion she will share openly; it will be your job over time and with trust to strip away the walls to expose the rest, like beautiful surprises.

You will get a community of warriors who will admire you and love you for stepping up for a woman they all have spent countless, hours, days, months, and years supporting, nurturing, worrying about, and showing up for.

Yes, they will be watching you. Yes, they will still be in protective mode. You will need to be confident and consistent, but once you have proved you want to protect her heart, you will have acquired a fierce new family of warriors who will hold you high with her.

You will get a woman with more to give you than you could have imagined. She will treasure you like the gold you are.

If you are brave enough, you will be rewarded with riches beyond your wildest dreams.


Relephant bonus:

author: Carlayne Gilbertson

Image: KaLisa Veer/Unsplash

Image: Elephant Journal on Instagram

Editor: Kelsey Michal

Two kinds of Love.

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genevakittyrose Aug 4, 2019 7:23am

I’m was married for 14 years to my 2nd husband when he passed away unexpectedly. Then 13+ years later I found a wonderful man who loved me for myself and remarried. We weren’t even married for 10 months when he unexpectedly passed away! The anniversary of his death is this week. I’m not sure how I’m going to handle it!
This made me think more of him because he understood that I had loved and lost another good man. He never had me to get rid of any pictures or anything that was my other husband’s. He told me that they were a part of me and he didn’t want me to forget them! I finally took the leap to love another great man and then he was taken from me, also!
So, this article has double meaning for me!
Thank you for explaining this to whoever will listen!

laurahess Jun 11, 2019 5:32pm

I lost my husband to suicide 7.5 years ago. This article is spot on. I found new love and my heart broke again when he died unexpectedly last year. I’m not sure if that wall will be torn down yet again but I take it one day at a time. Thank you for your insightful article.

thecallahanz Jun 9, 2019 7:17pm

As a widow who’s found love again almost 8 years after losing my husband, this one just nailed it for me. Thank you!!!

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Carlayne Gilbertson

Carlayne has over 20 years experience in the performance improvement business. Carlayne is a certified Strategic Intervention & Performance Coach.

Founder of Worthy Widow, The Worthy Way, and Worthy in the Workplace she helps people from all walks of life build strong self worth for success in all areas of their lives.

She is also Director of Program Coaching at a Career Transition firm, she’s a Writer, Speaker, Widow and Mom to 4 awesome children.

follow her on Facebook at Worthy Widow or Instagram @carlaynegilbertson