grief journey

Until Death Do Us Part – Hope4Widows

Rick and I were married on July 12, 1997. He died one month after our twentieth anniversary. This Friday will mark the second time I’ve spent our anniversary alone. In a way, it’s almost the third time, because on our last anniversary together in 2017, he was pretty sick and often mentally confused, so our special day wasn’t so special. He did try valiantly to maneuver his walker down the movie theatre aisle, and he attempted to eat a meal sitting across from me at the local diner, because he wasn’t up to Mexican food and beer at On the Border. But the whole date was a huge effort and not at all what we envisioned our twentieth anniversary celebration would be.

Then again, he was here to celebrate the date, and now he’s not. I’d give anything to relive that day if I could. Or would I? Would I put him through all that suffering again? Would I wish that he could be here with me now, if that meant watching him slowly disappear before my eyes all over again?

No. Definitely not.

Last year, to mark our special day, my niece (the maid of honor at our wedding) and I went out and spent the evening doing what Rick and I probably would have done together if he were still here. We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant and went to see a movie. This year, I’m not sure what I want to do. How do I “celebrate” an event without the person it was meant to be shared with?

Read the blog 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


  1. August 22nd would have been our 63rd anniversary and the first one without him. I need to share this year’s anniversary poem;
    63rd Anniversary Poem
    This night,
    that moon,
    and you

    Thank you for listening.
    Veda Smith

    1. Veda, I’m sorry for seeing this comment so late! My heart goes out to you. The month of August won’t be easy for either of us. I hope you found some way to bring peace that day. That poem is lovely! Did you write it? It’s so simple and elegant, but expresses the emptiness and sadness in those few words. Thank you for sharing it. – Katherine

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