Another chance to WIN Camp Widow registration!

There's another chance to win the registration for Camp Widow, which will be held in gorgeous San Diego in less than three weeks!

Just leave a comment on this post at Live from the 205, @Kimt205's blog. She will pull the name of a random commenter on Thursday night, July 26!!

Learn more about this life-changing weekend for widowed people of all ages, at all stages of their loss, in my several blog posts here and also on the official website, which gives all the details about making hotel arrangements, what meals are included, and so on.

Please read the conditions carefully ... winning this (a $375 value) will HELP you get to Camp, but it won't do the whole trick. And obviously, you must be widowed to enter. 

Two "Camperships" have already been given away by bloggers: SNICKOLLET andJANINE (@Txmomx6) pulled names on Tuesday night.

YOU COULD BE THE NEXT WINNER! Membership in this club doesn't have many privileges, so be sure to take advantage of the few there are. Why not meet some friends, and share in a healing and learning environment, to ease your long travel along the road toward a new life? 

If you're not widowed, or if you'd like to help support scholarships to Camp for folks who have asked for some help, please consider making a tax deductible contribution of any size here.



Come to Camp Widow or help someone get there... THREE giveaways!

Yes, @KelliDunham, we use the little sticks font!
Wow.... I started a little avalanche.... I offered one scholarship to Camp Widow. Then someone offered to fund another one. And then a third showed up out of nowhere! So you now have THREE blog giveaways to enter if you want to win free registration to Camp Widow, August 10-12 in San Diego!

You can learn more about this life-changing weekend for widowed people of all ages, at all stages of their loss, in my several blog posts here and also on the official website, which gives all the details about making hotel arrangements, what meals are included, and so on.

PLEASE enter any of these blog giveaways if you can come to Camp! I would LOVE to give you a real hug... so much better than one of (((these crappy ones)))! All you have to do is leave a comment ... winners will be chosen at random. Please read the conditions carefully ... winning this (a $375 value) will HELP you get to Camp, but it won't do the whole trick.

You've already "paid" for membership to widowhood... the exclusive club that no one wants to join. Why not meet some friends, and share in a healing and learning environment, to ease your long travel along the road toward a new life? 

The first two giveaways end tomorrow... Friday July 20. So enter today... and tell your friends!
1. SNICKOLLET 's blog (ends Tuesday, July 24)
2. JANINE (@Txmomx6)'s blog 

The third... will be up any minute at
3. Live from the 205, @Kimt205's blog. I'll update this post with the closing date once I know that but it will be later! For you slow readers :-) 

If you're not widowed, or if you'd like to help support scholarships to Camp (Camperships!) for folks who have asked for some help, please consider making a tax deductible contribution of any size here. Read what I've written about this event (repeat of link in the second paragraph above!) if you need to be reminded why this event is so important and helpful for widowed men and women.


Dating a Widower, compared to Dating a Divorced Man

My friend and colleague Abel Keogh writes a popular column on his blog, and runs several areas on Facebook, about the perils and pitfalls experienced by women who choose to date widowed men.

I have various quibbles with this topic, which he and I have discussed many times. To me, the Dating a Widower movement, such as it is, looks like it's just based on following Google to high readership. Just because people ask a question, doesn't mean there is a substantive answer to be found... though it can be created by someone inventive, responsive to readers, and with tremendous knowledge of the subject... as well as first hand experience as a member of the population in question. Abel is far from the only author tackling this subject: in addition to his two books, Dating a Widower and Marrying a Widower, there is Julie Donner Anderson's Past: Perfect! Present: Tense! and her associated forums and other activities.

I'll admit that those who date widowed people is not a group I have chosen to speak to or for... and that knowing how few men under 55 are widowed compared to women (at one time Social Security told me it was 1 man to 7 women) makes me quite skeptical... but some of the stories Abel and his readers share are pretty dreadful.

Many of the men in question seem to have significant trouble living comfortably with their past lives and experiences. Perhaps some of them were even a little nuts before they were widowed (we are changed by our losses... but not that much).

I also think that widowers with children still at home (most of the widowers I know fall in this category) are a bit more justified in hanging on to "stuff" from their past lives and sharing family (like in-laws) and memories a bit more actively. This is a giant set of exceptions that negates, for me, a lot of Abel's advice.

To be honest I have been pretty suspicious of these areas in part because when I was dating, at 40 ... I looked only at men who had been married. To me, the only relevant person to compare a widower's baggage to was... a divorced man. (I mostly restricted my searches to men who had been parents, because I had a young child and needed someone who'd understand that if I cancelled a date due to flu that he shouldn't take it personally... and I considered never-marrieds undateable... prejudices which had been confirmed by experience.).

I do not doubt that many women DO ask these questions and that people are confronting some difficult situations with this "baggage." But emotionally unavailable men come in many flavors. And it seems too easy to me to provide advice to women who are dating... probably the most insecure people in the world. What makes widowed men so much more "difficult" to deal with than, say, divorced men? Or men who reached 40 without ever marrying?

So let's do a comparison of baggage. I married a divorced man and we spend more time dealing with his feelings about his 23-year marriage disintegrating and their divorce than we do with Gavin almost literally disintegrating before my eyes and his death. (Although the score does even out a bit if you start counting the time I spend on managing his posthumous career as an artist and the fact that I spend tons of time on volunteer work for widowed people like Widowed Village and the Soaring Spirits board. )

I've always wanted to do a comparison that went beyond "my husband didn't WANT to leave me." Abel has just published a huge list justifying why this is a legitimate area... some of the ways that widowers behave badly in the dating market. So let's tear in and see what we find!: 

Some widowers ... 
Do divorced men do something similar?
Have shrines to their late wives in their living room or large portraits in other places in home or office.

No. Often the ex-wife has been cut out of the family photos and pictures are spookily absent. Sometimes this means there are no pictures of the kids, either, or that the divorce lives in hotel-room-like impersonal environment. Having some amount of old photos on display is a good idea if he and the late wife had kids. Advantage: widower.
Hold the late wife as a perfect saint who can never be spoken ill of.
Frequently bring up the ex-wife as a demon about whom no good can ever be said. Advantage: widower.

Keep the late wife's clothing in the closet or toiletries in the bathroom, or offer the new girlfriend their late wife's jewelry, clothing, etc.

No, sometimes the ex-wife's possessions have been burned or tossed from a window, though, or sent to storage without her knowledge. Advantage: widower.
... same for lingerie or sex toys.

Just.... ew.
Want to be buried next to their late wives.
Well, it would be nice if the widower would at least pretend that this choice got complicated. If they had kids, the old plan MIGHT still make sense. Advantage; the fresh start of the divorce'.

Have a bedroom in their home dedicated and reserved for the family of their late wives.
If it's a huge house and they had kids together... maybe. I think I'd find it hard to complain about living in a house with that much extra space.
Talk about how their late wife was a great athlete, professional, mom, and an all around perfect human being
Frequently divorced men share with their dates their feelings that their ex-wife was a skank, dumbass, or spendthrift. Both behaviors are tacky and unnecessary in most situations. Both widowed and divorced men should be able to talk about people in their past without cartoonish characterizations. Advantage: widower.

Organize and participate in 5ks or other charitable events in the name of their late wife
No, but sometimes people who've lost a child or parent or friend to a disease continue these activities, and is that weird?
Wants to be reunited with their late wife in the next life
Okay that is pretty weird, but isn't it a question of theology, like, are you healed when you get to heaven? Even if you had an amputation? (Sorry. Not my personal set of beliefs so I don't quite "get" it.) And it doesn't apply to divorce anyway, unless the ex-wife has also died.

Have the late wife's pots, pans, dishes, spices, etc. in the kitchen

Well.... yes. We use a lot of items that belonged to Mr. Fresh's first wife. Wasn't most of it joint property? Are we expected to replace EVERYTHING? (Plus we live in their house but dude, I KNOW that's weird, and it was equally my choice.)

Have the late wife's voice on their answering
Okay, I personally think that should be taken care of before you date, at least, by the time that person calls your home number. Advantage: Divorce.

Live in a house that has their late wife's touches everywhere
See pots and pans, above.

Have tattoos of their late wife that they’re not willing to get rid of
Blech, but isn't a tattoo supposed to be permanent? I have mixed feelings about tattoo removal... because what is a commitment anyway? Unless he's out of space for a new one with your name on it.

Constantly compare you or have family members that constantly compare you to their late wife

People "compare" me to Mr. Fresh's first wife all the time, and they compare him to Gavin all the time, but kindly, and without excessive characterization. We both do it, too, but again, most of the time, we do it gently and usually we're talking about behavior and not, say, waist size. It is hard to avoid, but "constantly" would piss anybody off. Mr. Fresh and I have had our issues with it.

Wear rings that symbolize their love for their late wife
See answering machine, above.
Make a giant six-acre heart-shaped meadow for their late wife

No. As stated in many examples above, divorced men do not tend to have fond memories of their ex-wives. I believe however that new partners benefit from displays of love like this.... not to mention tourists: the Taj Mahal was built to remember the Shah's late wife. (History does not record for us how that affected his next relationship or the other concubines, concurrent or subsequent.) Isn't it possible he would do something like this for you, too? Advantage: Widower.

I have to admit my "baggage comparison" isn't really as decisive as I might have wished. I realize that it's probably not reasonable to compare dating a widow (a nice normal one like me) with dating a widower, but I think widowed people generally are treasures in the dating world. (I only managed to find one widower when I was dating. It didn't go well, but it had nothing to do with his loss.)

So I tend to wonder, why is there no comparable community (and books) for those dating widowed WOMEN,given that they are 7/8ths of the widowed population? (Annie and Able share their thoughts on this here). "Dating a widow" is probably an even more popular Google term than "widower," but leads you only to spam, irrelevant or disreputable dating sites, and p0rn ... not to an entire movement. While there is some discussion of dating widowed women, most of it is pretty low quality and it doesn't seem to have any traction. Nor does it seem to generate this much controversy, even though widowed women talk about dating a lot. (A LOT lot.)

It still seems like an insult to my friends who are widowed men (who are frequently outraged by these blogs) to admit that there is something there... but surely there is. Perhaps men are more frequently bad daters, overall? Who knows.

There is certainly scads and scads of material about dating divorced men... but those men are so prevalent it would be impossible to avoid them. Which I suppose is part of the peculiarity... it IS possible to avoid dating widowers, and look at all this advice on WHY.

What do you think?


Note from Evelyn on an anniversary

The End of a Long Day, 1982, by Kevin MacDonald

On the anniversary of Kevin's death a year ago I posted a request for memories on Facebook. (I'm writing this almost exactly a year later. You know I'm busy....) Though I have sometimes compared Facebook friends to "real life" friends this was the most powerful sharing I received, and she is a "before" acquaintance, not an "after" friend.

Which just goes to show you... what? That sometimes when you think people have failed you some gigantic triumph shows up right when you need it. Five years later.

And you should be as patient with yourself as you are with the world, and more with both.

At least, that's what I take away from this slow, late lesson in generosity and love.
Hi Robin,

I see I just missed remembering Kevin by a minute. It's 12:01 a.m. It's funny, but I was just thinking about Kevin - and you - this morning, while driving my car home from grocery shopping. Before I knew this was the anniversary of his death. I was thinking about Kevin's passing and that I never contacted you. I'm sorry. Although I was (and am) out of touch with everyone -- Phyllis and Paula and Linda -- I did get an email and was so sorry to hear that you had lost your husband and your love, that you were now raising Irene without Kevin. How hard that would be. Sorry it's taken so long to give you my condolences.

I didn't know Kevin very well. But he was so comfortable, so I always felt very comfortable with him. He was easy to talk to and he was so lovely. When you two got together, I felt like a jewel was shown off to great advantage in a gorgeous platinum setting. I think you really added to his allure. I also felt, in his connection to Alex and a few other artists, something very masculine. That's probably a weird observation, but I love Alex and I sensed their shared history and appreciated the reminder of the DC art community in its earlier, wilder days. They felt a little like frontiersmen with mud on their boots.

I love Kevin's work. I feel like he must be Buddhist to achieve what he achieved in his pictures. I adored his architectural subject matter and the paintings of houses. I feel, when I look at Kevin's work, that he listened his art into being instead of drawing or painting it. Pictures full of listening. When a review came out in the early 2000's, I showed it to Tom and said it would be wonderful to have one of Kevin MacDonald's prints in our house.

I also remember running into you at Whole Foods when you told me that Kevin had cancer. I gave you a ride home, and I was just bowled over by your optimism and your taking it one day at a time, savoring what you had. I think Kevin was really lucky to have you, Robin. You hold his memory so constantly and your love for him so beautifully.



Do you know how much more it means to me that this came when it did... rather than right away? I would have lost it, not heard it... at 6 years... what a kind gift.

What a bonus too that it's about ME and not HIM, really. That is a memory worth holding on to. 


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