I am writing this anonymously, not to protect me, but to protect my friends. You see, we are widows. I never quite understood why this is a unique designation separate from being single – you know, on applications and information for doctors and such, they list Married, Divorced, Widowed, Single – why do they need to label us this way? I always select the “single” option. At the end of the day, when I return to an empty house that’s what I am and how I feel.
People wonder if we “widows” are changed and if our personalities or mental capacity have become altered. I have not really changed nor have my friends, we are the same, but now just alone. We had the experience of being married and losing our long time mates, but we are still viable adults with the same needs we had as married women. It’s different for everyone. Some of us were not too upset when we suddenly found ourselves single. We no longer had to check in or be on a schedule or make dinner or sleep without the TV on. Some of us were lost for a while without that tether, but nature prepares for that and although we may miss our spouses deeply, we’ve come to accept the lonely nights, the emptiness and the quiet that lingers through the air without the sounds of another human being in your space. Coming home to an empty house after a night out with friends, or a trip away has been, for me, the most difficult. What shook me up the most, was when I was coming home from a trip and had no one to call when my plane landed. It has been six years since my husband died and I still feel his presence as if it was just yesterday.
We had the experience of being married and losing our long time mates, but we are still viable adults with the same needs we had as married women.
The reason for writing this little essay was sparked by having lunch with friends, widows if you must know. Despite being past our “sold dates” (we’re in our 70s) two of them have found new partners to share their lives with. Our conversation was not about children or grandchildren, or politics or books we are reading or movies we’ve seen, but about sex. Why look for a new mate you might ask? Aside the companionship, there is the sex thing. Satisfying the basic human need of contact and a warm hug does not always fill the desire for actual sex.
Most women my age have not had the privilege of talking openly about sex or sex drive. Dr. Ruth came a little late for us. We still say the word in hushed tones and groan at the thought of speaking openly about what we need or want when it comes to sex. Not since the “Golden Girls” has there been a prime time series about sex and the single older woman. We are invisible to most, but firmly here with wants and needs like the rest of the world.
Here is where the word “vibrator” comes to mind. This device can satisfy the physical needs, however, not the emotional ones. For those of us that have not found another partner in our lives, or for that matter don’t want to, a vibrator is very handy (no pun intended). This we can use in the privacy of our own homes and we needn’t tell anyone or find excuses for using one or feel guilty in any way. The Netflix show starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin “Grace and Frankie” touch on the issue with the invention of their vibrator for arthritic women… I personally do not have arthritis.
Although we widows may be alone, we can still have full lives including a sex life. We are attractive, open to new experiences, keeping fit and ready for the next chapter. I say bring it on!