Tag Archive: Competing Against the Dead


Why Widowers Make the Best Lovers

My seven-year involuntary bachelorhood, and more important my seven-year forced widowerhood (if there is such a word), ended with the autumnal equinox, September 21.

As a new happily married man, I am pleased to report that both my bachelorhood and widowerhood are over. If you don’t believe me, take a moment to review my all-time (nearly 2,300 page views and counting) post: The Trouble with Widowers.

Back then, I was a frustrated, disappointed and unhappy puppy. And it shows in this particular Almost DailyBrett post. Initially, I thought being a widower was an advantage compared to other single folks. I was coming to a completely different conclusion. Having said that, I never gave up on the notion that widowers make the best lovers.

“Mommy got sick. And it happened just like that. There was nothing anybody could do. It isn’t fair. There’s no reason. But if we start asking why, we’ll go crazy.” – Tom Hanks as widower Sam Baldwin in “Sleepless in Seattle.” sleepless

Sam Baldwin’s wife died of cancer. And Meg Ryan as Annie Reed was determined to meet him. The same fate happened to my wife and by extension to me as well.

Entering into compelled bachelorhood, I wrote that compared to other categories of Baby Boom singledom; it was best to be a widower. The alternatives were bitter divorcee, single-north-of-40 or worse yet, currently separated with the warring states engaged in pitched battle.

Nonetheless, there are so many Frauen und Frauleins that are unhappy with their widowers because they remember their deceased spouses; they still may have mementos (e.g., displayed pictures, commemorative art, photo albums); and they continue to love her.

In turn, these factors in many cases trigger a mental comparison between the present female and her real and perceived flaws and the dearly departed. There are some who insist and can’t resist: Competing Against the Dead. And yet, there is an undeniable reality. She is deceased. Finis. Endo Musico.

It has been suggested that my personal record number of web hits and (not always pleasant) comments for The Trouble with Widowers is a reflection of women who are frustrated with the knuckle-dragging gender, particularly those who are widowers.

An immediate thought that comes to mind is whether these unhappy members of the fairer gender are searching for ideal hombres, as if these animals actually exist or ever existed. Let me offer the following for what it is worth (keep in mind, I am not a romantic expert and never will be): Widowers make the best lovers. And let me provide an addendum: Not all the good ones have already been taken.

How can I make such a categorical and unequivocal claim with no escape clause that widowers are the best lovers?

Assuming the widower did not become a widower because of foul play, one can conclude based upon experience that a widower knows how to keep a relationship and by extension, a marriage intact. sleepless1

He is not single because he was thrown out of the house. He is not single because no one is interested in marrying him. He is not single because he is separated, and the war is just starting.

He is single because of-death-did-they-indeed-part. My apologies for the sophomoric statement: Cancer sucks.

Certainly widowers are not perfect, but who is?

If a marriage stood the test of time, then obviously the widower contributed in part to this success. As a former widower, I know that a relationship is an everyday commitment. It cannot survive on auto pilot. There must be an effort to keep the romance and excitement alive, even in the face of the mundane daily challenges (e.g., work and raising a family).

Every successful marriage must overcome challenges and inevitable disagreements. Widowers know this, and can bring this knowledge and experience to their next relationships.

Sounds like the widower is applying for a new job? Ever experience an initial Match.com date? There are two simultaneous interviews taking place with each person serving as the interviewer and interviewee. A widower has an excellent chance of succeeding in this setting, provided he has found The Right Woman.

corinthians Probably, the best advice I received from multiple females of the species: “Just be nice.”

That seems so simple, and yet so many men swing and strike out even with a fast ball being thrown right down the middle.

A successful marriage requires the patience, kindness and willingness to NOT keep score. There is a much better than even chance that a widower instinctively knows this and has practiced these biblical tenants during the course of his marriage.

And yes, he can love again. Believe that. I am loving again.

http://symbioticpublishing.com/widower.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleepless_in_Seattle

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4J7gg1V0oak

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/the-trouble-with-widowers/ https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/competing-against-the-dead/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/the-right-woman/

The Right Woman

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This is not a gushy blog.

Instead, it is a response to one of my earlier epistles that resulted in many pairs of panties getting themselves all in a twist.

It amazed this writer how my April 15 blog…as in the April 15, 2012 The Trouble with Widowers post managed to get so many (mostly of the feminine persuasion) so riled up. The offering is one that keeps on giving and gosh darn it; the piece helps my SEO as well.

Go ahead, I dare you…Type in The Trouble with Widowers into your Google search and let’s see what comes out on top. I am as confident as Muhammad Ali stepping into the ring.

Okay, it’s time for a little humility for a change.

I never wrote The Trouble with Widowers for pure SEO (Search Engine Optimization) glory. As a widower, I was perplexed and a little irritated … okay a lot irritated … why I was not doing better when it comes to the affairs of the heart.

Deep down, I am a nice guy with a fun career. I can communicate with the best of them; heck it’s my profession. If you don’t believe me, just ask me.

And yet, my efforts at honest, effective communication with the fairer gender were coming up empty. One of the problems was the image of the woman in my past: The one, who passed away eight years ago tomorrow.

May you rest in peace, Robin.

Looking back on the past 15 months, I am amazed how one blog could draw 1,338 page views-and-counting and a record 28 comments some of which telling me that I was “clueless,” an “attention seeker” and my favorite, a “martyr.” Ready to nail me to the cross?

As the famous cliché states, “You can’t always tell a book by its cover.”

The title, The Trouble with Widowers, may have been akin to Xmas morning for youngsters. The majority of the readers of this particular post (e.g., women) most likely saw presents under the tree in the form of a new avenue for male bashing. Let’s give it to those widowers…until…oh…the blog wasn’t pounding men with deceased spouses into fine grains of sand. Instead, it was a call for understanding and communication.

It was a call for the right woman.

There are approximately 3.6 billion card-carrying females on this planet. Thankfully for heterosexual widowers, there are more women than competing men. Finding that woman, an understanding woman, is an exercise in patience and perseverance. For me, it took seven years to find Jeanne.

Vice President (and fellow widower) Joe Biden lost one-half of his family in a horrific traffic accident in December, 1972. It was several years before he met his Jill. And it was even longer before he could think of his deceased wife and baby daughter with a “Smile of the lips before a tear in the eyes.” Jill is an understanding woman.

The same is true for me, even though one of my readers wrote: “God help the next woman who enters into a relationship with you” and another, who offered, “I doubt your girlfriend is as secure as you maintain.” Thank you, Gloomy Gus, Negative Nancy and the other human barbiturates.

What seemed in particular to get everyone’s bowels in an uproar was the prospect of a “shrine” to the deceased and the notion that a new GOW (girlfriend of a widower) or WOW (wife of a widower) was second best.

Growing up in Southern California, my mom at dinner time would turn on a small electric light to illuminate a large portrait of her mom (my grandma Peggy) and turn it off shortly before retiring. Was that a “shrine” to a deceased member of the family? What constitutes a shrine? The next question: Is it appropriate? I never questioned it.

As I offered before, photos of a deceased grandparent, parent, sibling, (Heaven forbid) child are kosher, but photos and art work from the late spouse are insensitive? Each and every one of them were family members. Why is it different if one married into the family?

And then there is the notion that the GOW or WOW is somehow “second best.” Let me ask this question: Does a mother with multiple children numerically rank her Kindern? Is this the equivalent of the BCS standings with the top two children vying for the mother’s number one spot when it comes to love? Will a trophy be awarded for winning the maternal, “Natty?”

There is no denying that a GOW or WOW is second, chronologically. That’s just common sense. The deceased spouse came first. That doesn’t make the new love of your life, second best. She is second. The same is true for children…only one can be the first child.

Let me offer the following: The venom that has been directed at me may be a cry of frustration. Dating a widower is not as easy as it seems. He usually does not carry the bitterness of many divorcees or those currently separated. He does not bring obvious questions of those post-40, who have never been down the aisle. In most cases, he brings to the party the experience of a successful marriage that was cut short by the Grim Reaper.

It all comes down to two-way symmetrical communication. Both need to understand. Both need to be accommodating. This is not a once-a-week practice, but it is every day. Relationships take work, even those with widowers.

A widower needs to work every day with the new woman in his life, just as he did in his past relationship. The same is true with the woman dating and loving the widower. It all comes down to the right widower and the right woman.

As one of my colleagues said to me last year: “When it’s good; it’s good.”

Thank you Jeanne. It’s been good, damn good. You are the right woman.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/the-trouble-with-widowers/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/smile-on-the-lips-before-a-tear-in-the-eyes/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/competing-against-the-dead/

Is “clueless” male, redundant?

How about “disrespectful” man?

And to top it off, I have been labeled an “attention seeker.”

All of the above occurred in just one week as a result of a post that I wrote a little more than one year ago: The Trouble with Widowers.

These are just some of the joys of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Presumably, legions of women upset with widowers went to the web. They found my blog. They wrote to me. I wrote to them. The Internet bots recorded it all. My Trouble with Widowers blog is listed in the first and second positions on Google.

Can we do that again?

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Life is so short.

And yet there is so much that one has to read for work, for school, for personal improvement.

And then there are the relatively few-in-comparison precious items that one actually wants to read.

A blogger needs to keep these essential truths in mind when composing a post. A blog is the most discretionary of all reads. No one makes you read her or his blog. If your blog is lame, no one will read it. If your blog is boring, the reader will simply stop reading after a few paragraphs. If your blog is predictable, then why keep on reading?

After posting 201 blogs…some obviously better than others…there are lessons that come from blogging, which allows me to offer my humble commentary to an imperfect world.

Many immediately start thinking about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and how to entice the “bots” to visit their pages…and one should contemplate these strategies. It is all so binary code or digital ones-and-zeroes.

Having said that, some of the lessons that emanate from blogging are actually analog in nature. Some of these do not originate in digital high-tech environments, but instead they are taught in conventional Journalism school. These include catchy headlines, inverted pyramids, the use of familiar (e.g., celebrity) names, breaking news stories, controversial debate points and even subjects that pertain to matters below the waist line…that would be sex for those of you living in Springtucky.

Headlines Matter: Just as in conventional magazine and newspaper journalism, a catchy headline will draw the eye and entice the reader to take a gander at the first few paragraphs. Besides The Trouble with Widowers, my other heavily read blog posts include: Competing Against the Dead, Men and Their Schlanges, Magnanimous in Victory; Gracious in Defeat, Fiduciary Responsibility vs. Corporate Social Responsibility; It’s Not You; It’s Me; Taxing the Fab Four; Exiling the Stones; and A Smile on the Lips Before a Tear in the Eyes.

Leads Matter: Not every blog has to start out with the classic inverted pyramid, outlining the what, when, where, who, why and how of the story in rapid order. After all a blog is not a hard-news story, more of a feature or “thumb sucker” for those in the profession. Having said that, the reader should not be left wondering for long what the subject is about. Get to the point.

My blog about Lindsay Lohan, Hugh Hefner and $1 million to pose au naturel (Lindsay, not Hugh) did not take long for the reader to comprehend: The Decision to Pose for Playboy. I am still amazed by how many are still searching for information about skating superstar Katarina Witt’s sold-out 1998 nude spread in Playboy.

Tags Matter: What do blog readers care about? How about Katarina Witt and the word, “nude?” So far, I have posted more than 1,750 different tags to entice eyeballs and search engines. An Oregon football fan cares about Uncle Phil, Phil Knight, Nike, Autzen Stadium, Chip Kelly, Rose Bowl etc. Write your blog with tags in mind and review it to make sure you are fully taking advantage of what tags can do for your personal brand, SEO, individual visits and page views.

Stakeholders Matter: The number of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, LinkedIn groups all equate to higher SEO. Every blog should be shared on these sites. Search engines are important, but they are far from the only way to drum up attention to your blog and better Google placement.

Credibility Matters: The lawyers call it “standing.” Do you have the bona-fides to write about a given subject? Why should anyone listen to you? I teach public relations at a Top 10 journalism school. I know a thing or two about communications, but virtually nothing about math and science. I write to my strengths and avoid my obvious weaknesses.

Respect Matters: One cannot be a successful blogger without being provocative. That is different from being notorious. As a former press secretary, I am not afraid of mixing it up. At the same time, I try to be respectful of others and want the same. I have thick skin to a point. Let’s dispense with name calling, slurs or foul language. The key is to be offensive without being offensive.

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All of the above do not require an advanced geek degree in writing algorithms for Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google (all tags for this blog). The knowledge of effective journalistic writing and persuasive public relations all come in mighty handy in writing an effective blog.

Who said that analog skills are dead?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Descartes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_bots

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google

https://www.google.com/search?q=Search%20Engine%20Marketing&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#hl=en&gs_rn=9&gs_ri=psy-ab&gs_mss=The%20Trouble%20with%20Wid&pq=search%20engine%20marketing&cp=25&gs_id=ma&xhr=t&q=The%20Trouble%20with%20Widowers&es_nrs=true&pf=p&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US%3Aofficial&sclient=psy-ab&oq=The+Trouble+with+Widowers&gs_l=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.45512109,d.cGE&fp=b3ed9e4baad5b678&biw=1680&bih=946

“There will come a day, I promise you … when the thought of your son or daughter or your husband or wife brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. It will happen. My prayer for you is that day will come sooner or later. But the only thing I have more experience than you in is this: I’m telling you it will come.” Vice President Joe Biden

It’s not every day that I quote Joe Biden, but every once in awhile even a loose cannon can be right …err … correct.

biden

What compels me to write a non-political blog featuring the Democratic vice president and former senator are the lessons he teaches us in overcoming the loss of a loved one or in his case, two loved ones. Biden instantaneously lost his wife, Neilia, and one-year old daughter, Naomi Christina, when they were broadsided by a tractor-trailer on December 18, 1972. His two sons were in the same car. They were seriously hurt, but have fully recovered. Historically, Biden does not work on this anniversary.

I can understand why.

As I have mentioned before, I have seen a similar version of this movie and just like the vice president I cried at the ending. It will be seven years this coming July 10 when I lost my wife, Robin, to terminal stage four, fully methathesized stomach cancer … a death sentence cancer.

Both Biden and yours truly are mackerel snappers. And all the years of parochial education naturally prompt one to beseech the All Mighty as to how she or he could allow someone near and dear to you to be taken away in the prime of her life. I lost one in a relatively short period of time. Biden lost two immediately.

Biden, who had just been elected to the US Senate from Delaware in 1972, remembers staring up to the capitol rotunda ceiling and saying, ‘God!’ It was if I was talking to God myself. ‘You can’t be good! How can you be good?’”

A padre at the Cathedral in Portland, Oregon a few years ago commented how all deaths are by their very nature sad, but can be actually welcomed when someone is elderly, sick, suffering and has no hope of ever continuing a healthy, happy life. The opposite is true when someone is vibrant, full of zest and contemplating her next three decades or so of life…and then…

One of the keys to Biden’s recovery was a strong wonderful woman, Jill Biden, the second lady of the United States. She is absolutely gorgeous even as she approaches her 61st birthday next week. She is obviously understanding and was willing to work with Joe, the widower, in not only incorporating her own life into his, but helping him to overcome…not forget…the double tragedy that struck his life.

“This woman (Jill) literally saved my life,” said Biden to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). In that same speech with the media present, Biden bravely said he understood thoughts of suicide because someone may have been to “the top of the mountain and they knew in their heart they’d never get there again, that was never going to be that way ever again.”

Mercifully, I never had those thoughts. Having said that, I am searching for my “Jill.” I know she is out there. She may even be reading my blog.

jillbiden

As I have written before in related Almost DailyBrett posts, “Competing Against the Dead?” and “The Trouble with Widowers,” it will take someone strong and accommodating. She will need to understand that I simply cannot forget 22 years, but at the same time I am ready to move on. I am always amazed by the unprompted pronouncements about how I have not recovered from Robin’s passing. That’s where Biden’s comments come into play.

When I now think of Robin, I remember fondly the good times, the fun times, the playful times. A smile comes onto my face, before an occasional tear ventures into my baby blues. The vice president without saying it directly was referencing how time is a great healer. Forgetting is neither an option nor something I want to do, but going forward with a renewed spring in my step is something that I see in my future.

I have been accused of being a Pollyanna. I happily plead guilty.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-biden-reflects-on-tragic-accident-loss-in-speech-to-soldiers-families-20120525,0,2650548.story

http://www.taps.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Biden

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jill_Biden

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/the-trouble-with-widowers/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/competing-against-the-dead/

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pollyanna

The Trouble with Widowers

There seems to be plenty of online advice for WOWs (Wives of Widowers) and GOWs (Girlfriends of Widowers), but I am striking out finding comparable guidance for HOWs and BOWs.

Silly me. I used to think it was far better to be widower and to periodically talk positively about a deceased wife than it was to be a bitter divorcee and talk horribly about an ex-wife or ex-husband. Guess I was wrong.

widower

The counsel that is being provided to the fairer sex about dating widowers remembering blissful marriages is far from universal. The direction includes compelling the widower to lock all of his late wife’s gear, including photos, in a pharaoh’s tomb-style steamer trunk (UK Guardian columnist Mariella Frostrup) and throw away the key.

Another opines (blogger Julie Donner Andersen) that it would be “inhumane and selfish” to demand that a widower put all of his memories in a box. At the same time, she concluded  that a widower maybe looking to the heavens for permission from his dead wife to fall in love with someone new.

A third input (author/marketer Abel Keogh) simply suggests that it is time to move on if a widower dedicates an online or literal shrine to his departed wife.

Let’s see: Real or digital shrines are kosher for mothers, fathers, siblings, children, but verboten for deceased wives … Not sure I am following the (il)logic.

My response as a widower to this “advice” and the “counsel” emanating from the relationship Pharisees is to ask: Have you ever walked in my shoes?

I never thought I would ever have to “overcome” a two-decade-plus successful marriage. One could reasonably conclude this experience was a plus that one actually knows how to make a marriage stand the test of time. Having read advice columns and blogs on this subject and factoring in my own dating experiences, one is now tempted to come to an all together different conclusion.

During my nearly seven years as a single follicly challenged dude, I have heard a litany of complaints from recent and not-so-recent divorcees about their ex-spouses including using charming names such as a..hole, d..k and the fact that his parents were not married when he was born.

Is it a blast to listen to this dialogue? Nope. And for some reason these negative vibrations are somehow better than listening to a widower talking about his positive relationship with his late wife. Sitting there politely while a female of the species verbally unloads on her ex is somehow commendable, but a knuckle-dragging male musing romantically in moderation about his dearly departed in the presence of a contending female is insensitive. Sure.

Should a widower temper his discussion about his late wife and be cognizant about overdoing it? Absolutely. Should he take all of these memories, put a sock in it and permanently seal them away in a mental or real vault, never to be opened again? Is this realistic?

The trouble with widowers, and I have heard this more than once, is that if we discuss our late spouses more than a few times that triggers a knee-jerk conclusion from the mind readers that we have not come to terms with the passing of our beloved wives. We are not ready for a prime-time relationship with someone with a totally different set of genes.

How else can I put it?  She’s dead. She’s not coming back. To death did us part.

The answer to addressing the subject of a positive marriage to a dearly deceased wife and a bitter divorce to an (add appropriate explicative) offending guy is communication. I have always contended and probably always will believe that how a couple addresses conflict rather than days of wine and roses dictates the success of a relationship. It all boils down to verbal intercourse.

Regardless of whether a previous marriage ended in death or divorce, there are memories and mementos. The longer the marriage, the deeper the emotions and the thoughts about special places and times. Most likely there will be pictures, some more intimate than others. There may be art. There may be letters and cards. Should all of these be put into a steamer trunk, locked and placed into the hold of the Lusitania?

Personally I believe that sensitivity is a two-way street. There should not be a double standard. Discussing an ex, whether it is by a female or male speaker, and whether divorce or death results in a spouse becoming a former spouse, should be done with care. We need to consider the comfort level of those receiving the message and be sensitive to their feelings.

At the same time, those dating a divorcee, a widower or a widow need to come to terms with the undeniable fact that there was someone prominent in that person’s past. There must be some accommodation, but not in an unlimited manner. This is a real or potential conflict, but it can be solved if both sides wish to do so.

If not, a WOW or a GOW could end up competing against the dead. The result may very well be a relationship on life support.

Almost DailyBrett note: The acronyms WOW and GOW originate from blogger Julie Donner Andersen. Very clever.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/01/mariella-frostrup-widower-first-wife

http://juliedonnerandersen.blogspot.com/2009/04/enough-already-when-widower-talks.html

http://abelkeogh.com/writing/widower-red-flag.php

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/competing-against-the-dead/

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