grief journey

The “L” Word – on the Hope for Widows website

Yesterday, Rick and I would have celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. It was the third one since he’s been gone. I made it through the fog of the first one. By the second one, I had adapted to life alone, and I was beginning my foray into the dating world. This year…? How do I categorize this year of widowhood?

The year I fell in love with another man.

About nine months after I entered the crazy world of online dating, the pandemic put a halt to the adventure. By the spring of 2000, I had gone on more than a half dozen first dates that never progressed to a second, for various reasons. In April, I began chatting with a new man in an online dating app. It was the beginning of the pandemic, and I was pretty careful about not leaving the house. Restaurants were closing, it became too complicated to meet, and our time spent messaging just seemed to drift away.

In early April of this year – exactly one year later – he looked me up post-vaccination, and he was the first man I went out with within days of getting my second shot. We fell for each other rather quickly. As he said, when you get to your 60s and you find the one you’ve been looking for, there’s no time to waste.

And so, for the first time since Rick’s death, I became exclusive with a man. After more than 20 years with Rick, and nearly three years spent grieving him, I really didn’t imagine this could happen. It felt strange being kissed by another man, holding his hand when we walked, drinking Margaritas under the gazebo in the evening, cuddling on the couch as we watched TV. It felt even stranger telling him that I love him.

But… I still love Rick. I don’t want him to be “a man I used to love.” What a paradox! I’ve hoped that I could fall in love again, yet I don’t want to replace Rick in my heart. I worked hard to overcome the grief of his loss, and I’m happy I’m able to feel something for another man. BUT, I don’t want my time with Rick to be over. I want to still love him with all my heart – not a heart divided….

Read the rest on the Hope for Widows website.

About the author

Katherine Billings Palmer is a technical writer, poet, and essayist from Garden City, Michigan. She’s won several academic writing awards, including first place in the University of Michigan Dearborn Critical Essay Contest for her work about poet John Donne: “‘The Sun Rising’: A Lover’s Boast.”

In 2017, Katherine’s husband, Rick, died of complications from small cell lung cancer. She wrote a series of poems and essays about her struggles to cope with her grief. I Wanted to Grow Old With You is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

Her latest book, A Widow’s Words: Grief, Reflection, Prose, and Poetry – The First Year was published in January 2019 and is also available on

Katherine is a guest blogger for the Hope for Widows Foundation and writes about her grief journey at

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