40 Widowed Experiences on What Would Have Been His 40th Birthday

Today, October 31, would have been my husband’s 40th birthday. I imagine he’d be asleep and, as the night owl I’ve always been, I’d be awake staring intently at the clock, waiting to rush into the hotel bedroom and sing Stevie Wonder’s rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song. We’d then spend the rest of the week in a bed and breakfast tucked away in the foothills of a Caribbean island.

Instead, I’m up sending a request to Facebook asking that his page be memorialized. I’m not sure how what I imagined and my reality got so far out of sync with each other.

Since losing my husband unexpectedly 4.5 years ago, I’ve also had to deal with these 40 things I never could have fathomed:

  1. Coordinating an autopsy with a medical examiner in a foreign country;
  2. Having my beloved hubby referred to as “the body” as he was transported back to the States;
  3. Handling funeral arrangements for someone who embodied the definition of living life to fullest;
  4. Deciding what songs should be played at the funeral;
  5. Determining if I wanted to reserve the plot next to his in the cemetery;
  6. Faxing copies of death certificates to banks, the government, etc.;
  7. Questioning the fairness of life;
  8. Being angry with God;
  9. Growing stronger spiritually;
  10. Not being able to eat the top-tier of wedding cake on our first anniversary;
  11. Spending holidays and special occasions without him;
  12. Being asked if I needed medication to get through the depression;
  13. Selecting widowed as my marital status on forms/documents;
  14. Boxing up husband’s clothing and belongings;
  15. Buying a new house and not having my husband to sign on the dotted line as the co-borrower;
  16. Lying to servicemen about hubby who “hadn’t gotten home from work yet” to not be taken advantage of/ripped off;
  17. Deciding what to do with wedding dress still hanging in the closet;
  18. Contemplating happiness and if I’ll ever truly be happy again;
  19. Choosing to become an only parent;
  20. Thinking about dating after spending nearly a decade with hubby;
  21. Talking to my mother-in-law about being open to love from a man who isn’t her son;
  22. Exploring online dating;
  23. Rediscovering the rules of dating – they’ve obviously changed;
  24. Being questioned for waiting so long to “move on”;
  25. Comparing every man to my late-husband;
  26. Using the phrase “late-husband”;
  27. Hearing others talk about him in the past tense;
  28. Going on a first date after 4 years;
  29. Feeling guilty for having enjoyed a date;
  30. Kissing someone while wearing my wedding ring and freaking out afterwards;
  31. Wondering when to stop wearing my wedding rings;
  32. Figuring out what to do with his wedding ring;
  33. Sharing my widowed story and being asked to be a blogger for The Huffington Post;
  34. Starting an online widowed support group;
  35. Missing my husband all while enjoying the butterflies that come with getting to know someone new;
  36. Explaining to others that my grief is part of who I now I am. I will always love my husband;
  37. Experiencing all the short and long-term quirks that come along with trauma and stress – my memory is shot to hell;
  38. Accepting that I am still here and no matter how much it sucks, I have to keep moving forward;
  39. Living life on my own terms, knowing now than ever before the fragility of life;
  40. Realizing that I’m at happy place though a piece of my heart is forever missing.

Mom to a feisty preschooler, Kerry Phillips became widowed at age 32. She runs an online support group for young widows and widowers venturing back into the world of dating and is a blogger for The Huffington Post.


How To Tell If A Guy Is Flirting With You – Dating Advice Guru Podcasts

http://www.datingadviceguru.com – In this podcast episode, you’ll learn the important skill of decoding your guy’s flirting signals…

Want to find out if your guy just wants to be friends – or if he’s actually flirting with you?

Well, you’ve come to the right place!

I’ve learned an important thing about men and women when it comes to flirting.

In my decade and a half experience of helping people with their love lives, it occurred to me that the male and female approach to flirting is generally different.

It seems pretty obvious at first, but there’s more to it than you think.

There’s a lot of miscommunication and missed opportunities simply because we assume the opposite sex will flirt with us the same way we do with them.

And so many women end up misreading or missing a guy’s flirting signals and assume he’s not interested. Or they might be looking for something that isn’t there.

And that can result in disappointment…and even heartbreak. So let me fill you in on the basics of the male approach to flirting.

Once you figure out the key signals a guy gives out, you’ll never have to suffer those awkward situations with him again…

My FREE Podcast series reveals the secrets of how to make a man fall in love with you AND the secret psychology of men. You’ll find out the secrets of what men want in a woman, and how to make him fall for you.

The 3 Fundamentals of Dating –

To send in a question, please complete this form. All submissions are anonymous.




(Question has been modified for space and clarity.)


I cannot get a date. While most will categorize me as old, I’m 66, and I’m an engineer with a challenging job. I still run two miles and bike up to 20 on a regular basis.

I’m on multiple dating sites and have sent out more than 200 messages, but have received very few responses. My sister and a close female friend have reviewed my profile, and I’ve changed it several times. I even had Sandy Weiner, who writes for this site, re-write my profile.

The result has been four viable dates in over a year — one decided we could only be friends after a single date; two lost interest after a couple of dates (both lived nearly two hours away,) and the last woman has another boyfriend.

I’d like to find a partner who enjoys ballroom dancing, who is fit enough to keep up with me on a reasonable run or bike ride, and who is educated. Is that too much to ask for?

–Alone in PC; Panama City, FL


Dating is difficult when you’re 16, and it doesn’t get any easier when you’re 66. The same challenges exist. Finding someone you connect with, someone you enjoy spending time with and someone who wants the same things out of life — that’s no small task.

Reading your struggles reminded me of my single days. When I wasn’t getting ignored by prospective dates, I was getting rejected by prospective girlfriends. Each dismissal was accompanied by an incremental decrease in self-esteem — and of hope that things would ever change. So I feel your pain.

My first inclination is to ramble about the fundamentals needed to survive being single. And because I believe there’s value in these principles — despite their eye-rolling cliched-ness — that’s what I’m going to do, at least for a minute…


1) You have to be active.

As Teddy Roosevelt said, the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is posted in profile pictures; who strives valiantly for setups; who errs, who comes up short again and again on dates; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions of asking for and getting that second “Yes”; who spends himself in the worthy cause of the first kiss; who at best knows in the end the triumph of the Walk of Shame, and who at worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring to close the deal, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid bachelors who know neither consummation nor cold shower.

OK, so I changed a lot of — and desecrated — one of the greatest speeches in American history, but you get the point. You have to be willing to try.

This is what gets you in the game.

2) You have to be persistent.

To be clear, not in the creepy, stalkerish, refuse-to-get-the-message kind of way.

But the more active you are, the more rejection/disappointment/embarrassment you’re subjected to. You’re investing time, money and hope, and in many cases, you’re investing all that in someone you’ve never met.

When things go wrong, it can feel as if they’ll never go right. That wears on a person. But it’s in those moments when you have to get off the mat and back into the arena.

This is what keeps you in the game.

3) You have to be (a little) crazy.

Jerry Seinfeld once declared 95 percent of the population undateable. And that was just based on looks. Factor in things like personality, values, morals, sense of humor and preferred bedtime thermostat setting, and that number has nowhere to go but down.

So it takes having at least one screw loose(ned) to believe you can overcome such hard data to meet the woman of your dreams.

This is what convinces you that you can win the game.

These fundamentals can help everyone, although they apparently haven’t helped you. (Yet.)

You’ve sent over 200 messages to potential dates (active); you’ve revamped your online profile multiple times, and you’ve given everything you had to every woman who gave you a chance (persistent); and despite all this leading you nowhere, you’re still not giving up (crazy…in a good way).

I admire your dedication, and for that, I want to leave you with some practical, actionable advice.

You mentioned your age as if it were a negative, but in this case, I don’t believe it is. Whereas younger singles don’t know what they want in a partner, you do. It says so in your submission. You want someone who is:

• Educated

• Physically fit

• Interested in ballroom dancing

Dating can be like a murder mystery — solving it gets easier when you know who you’re looking for. Short of a police sketch, you’ve got a decent composite. The trick is figuring out how to meet her.

So why not enroll in continuing education courses, join a running and/or bicycling club and sign up for ballroom dancing classes?

A few things to consider:

1) Few people value education more than those who go to school when they don’t have to. In your area, Gulf Coast State College and Florida State University Panama City offer lifelong learning opportunities in business, personal enrichment, and other subjects.

Spot an attractive woman in a course you like, and the two of you are guaranteed to have at least one common interest

2) When I was a kid, my parents took ballroom dance classes at the local community center. I’d shoot baskets in the gym while they learned to cha-cha, but inevitably I’d end up watching the last few minutes of their class. It was amusing/terrifying to see the tension and toe-stubbing frustration among the couples who had disparate dancing abilities.

The lesson? Don’t commit to a romantic dance partner until you’re sure you share compatible rhythm levels.

3) Need someone who can physically keep up with you? See above about ballroom dancing. Your biking and running outings should release stress, not induce it through constant stopping and waiting.

Plus, people can run or bike alone, so a certain portion of those in these clubs could be there to meet someone, as well. If nothing else, new friends could lead to new setups.

The most important aspect of these endeavors, though, is that not only do they put you in touch with like-minded people in a social setting, they put you in your element. When you’re where you want to be, doing what you want to do, you become the best version of yourself — which will make you that much more attractive to the best woman for you.

What do you think? What advice would you give this reader? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


Need more advice? Check out the most recent installments:


Those Three Little Words

The Election Has Torn My Family Apart

Friends With Benefits(?)

To Give and Receive

My Brother’s Keeper

Join and crush a stereotype or two

Photo: Getty Images


In Conflict with Someone? | Molly Hillig Rodriguez

We had an important question submitted to our ASK Molly campaign from Nicole. I wanted to share what she asked about conflict in relationships and how to resolve it.

Question from Nicole – What do you do when you are in a conflict with someone and you have attempted to reconcile but they are not willing to do the same? And you are still required to interact with this person on a daily basis?

My Response – Hi Nicole, this is an important question and a sticky situation. Usually, both parties feel a little uncomfortable. Conflict without reconciliation happens at work, in families, in friendships and romantic relationships. One person often gives the cold shoulder while the other is left feeling hurt and unable to express your feelings. This is a pretty passive aggressive behavior from the cold shoulder giver. Here are a few things you can try to support yourself:

1) Talk with a friend or journal about your feelings. What challenges you about the situation and how you feel about making an attempt to reconcile. This will support you release some of the emotional charge related to this person.

2) Reflect on what capacity you have to interact with this person, what relationship do you have? Work, friendship, lover, or etc? Ask yourself how important is this relationship to my life?

3) If you want this person in your life, make it clear to them. “I know there has been a conflict between us before, I would like to move past that and have you in my life. I will hold the door OPEN (figuratively and maybe literally) for when you are ready.” This will take a lot of love and maturity from your side to hold the door OPEN.

4) Practice holding the door OPEN (radiate love and maturity). Vision the two of you reconciling and be patient. Reconciliation cannot be rushed if one party is not ready for it. However, do not place yourself in harms way. If this person is rude or belligerent….send love and maturity from a distance.

5) Continue sharing or journaling your feelings throughout the process. The more you express and process the less it will bother you.

The reality is relationships cause extreme joy and pain. No great relationship has been escaped a challenging moment. Learning to reconcile allows us to experience a greater depth in a relationship. It also expands our emotional maturity. If there is a person in your life you would like to reconcile with do not, give it a try and see what happens.

Chicago’s Relationship Coach,

Molly Hillig Rodriguez

Free Your Mind and the Rest Will Follow – The Problem With Dating

That’s not just an En Vogue lyric. It’s a way of life.

I fell in love for the first (and probably only) time when I was 8 years old. It was a classic “boy next door” situation, and even though I was so young, I knew right away that this person would change my entire life. I was like a female Cory Matthews just waiting for my Topanga to figure it out, too.

Over the next few years, as I grew older, my feelings for my “boy best friend” never wavered. As a typical male, he wouldn’t admit that the feeling was mutual until years later. After that, our teenage hormones took over, but distance and our young age were major factors in keeping us apart. Since social media wasn’t even invented yet, we fell out of touch, but in the back of my mind I had no doubt that we’d link up again.

It wasn’t until after I graduated college and went through a pretty traumatic breakup that we reconnected (AIM, I will be forever grateful to you). Coincidentally, he had ended a long-term relationship himself not too much earlier, so we bonded over that. After hundreds of hours of phone conversation (RIP phone calls), days turned into weeks, turned into months, and before long we found ourselves in a full-on long distance relationship, despite my protests that it may ruin our friendship. If that ain’t some foreshadowing, y’all…

I took the risk though, and had never felt happier, more complete, or filled with purpose in my entire life.

We talked about moving in together, marriage, kids, the whole enchilada. I had found love with my best friend and other half, a feeling that had been lying dormant within me until I knew the timing was right.

As he used to say, “The stars finally aligned for us.”

Not surprisingly, the face-to-face visits became harder to maintain, the forced separations even harder. I became insecure in the relationship for a variety of reasons, mostly internal and a few major external. He was becoming increasingly frustrated with my frustration, and naturally began pulling away. Our demise was inevitable.

I’ll spare you the specific, incredibly dramatic details, but when that day came, to say I was destroyed is a grave understatement. You might think that a relationship under those circumstances could never be sustainable, that maybe it was just a rebound. I was so young, emotionally fragile, and linked my worth to being a girlfriend. He felt the unbearable weight of responsibility for me, was (in my opinion) not fully recovered from his previous relationship, and wanted space. I was devastated over the loss of the relationship, but most of all I knew I had lost my best friend–something that would never be resurrected.

Less than a year later, I found myself in another relationship. Even though this one had lasted three years, I never allowed myself to become fully invested. Subconsciously, I picked a man who was extremely emotionally unavailable because that’s what felt safe to me. If I never had to be vulnerable with another human, then how could they possibly damage me to the extent that my last relationship had?

That second relationship ended in 2012, and I haven’t had a “real boyfriend” since. It’s blatantly obvious this detrimental way of thinking has infiltrated every romantic involvement I’ve found myself tangled in for a handful of years. If my first love–who had known me as a child–could be capable of breaking my trust and hurting me so completely; how could I ever possibly put myself out there for a seemingly complete stranger?

Recently, I had a three-hour phone conversation with a close friend about how this way of thinking has really affected me long-term. I pointed out that it was like a piece of me was still walking around outside of my body and that I needed to reclaim it or I could never fully give myself to another person. I’m not purposefully trying to block every good thing that comes my way, but it’s a lot easier said than done!

Even though I eventually wound up moving to the same state as that first love, I have not seen him since the the last time he dropped me off at the airport, which happened to be 9 years ago, last week.

That’s 9 years that I have allowed someone walk around with a piece of me, whether they know it or not. He is engaged to be married soon, and although I don’t actively love this person anymore, I will always care about his happiness and wish him nothing but a lifetime filled with it.

We are still in touch with one another, exchanging birthday wishes every year or inboxing brief casual exchanges about current events. There is an unspoken understanding that things will never really be the same between us, despite our humorous claims to be “friends forever.” I have been at peace with that fact for a long time, but it has always been difficult for me to talk about that time in my life.

I suppose that is why I have avoided writing about all of this out for months (maybe even years) but now that I have, maybe finally I will be free.