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Young Widows in the Church: Are they disadvantaged?

Young Widowby Jessawhy

A recent tragedy in my stake has renewed my questions about the church’s stance on sealings in the afterlife. Our stake president’s son suddenly died at age 34 leaving a young wife and four small children. I can’t even imagine the pain that this family faces and the months and years ahead of trying to cope with the loss of their son, husband, and father.

Although I’ve never met her, I put myself in the shoes of the young widow. How would I feel if I had just lost my husband? I’m sure her grief and concern for her and her children’s future is overwhelming. Still, I wonder if in a few years will this woman want to remarry? There would be benefits to having a father-figure in the home. I hope that she has the opportunity to find a loving man who will be a good husband and father. However, I wonder if her chances are lower somehow compared to women who have never been married in the temple. Because of her sealing to her deceased husband, she is not on the market eternally, even though she may be available for the next 60 years or so. Perhaps this concept is of very little importance to potential mates, but perhaps it is. The church emphasizes the eternal nature of families so much that men may find it less desirable to marry someone who could not be sealed to them eternally. Therefore, I think that a young widow is potentially disadvantaged in terms of remarriage. Of course, the dynamic is different for a young widower, since men can have multiple wives sealed to them for eternity (although they may feel they are betraying their first wife by marrying again).

A little deeper than just having the opportunity to be sealed to a spouse, is the concern of loving both husbands and having to choose between them in the next life. Perhaps this woman does remarry and spends the next 50 years with a wonderful man. When she dies will she have to decide which one she likes best: the husband she had for the first 10 years or the last 50? Also, as her children (now ages 1-9) grow with a new father, will they be torn in their love for him and their loyalty to their deceased dad? It all seems so difficult to me.

Despite these struggles in my mind, In my heart I know that God gives us these struggles to help us become stronger, and more compassionate. I also believe that heaven is not a place where we will be forced to make the hard choices that we make in this life. However, I fear that our understanding of the afterlife, and it’s emphasis in LDS teachings may prevent some marriages that could be help people now and through eternity. For young LDS widows, their prospects for remarriage may be bleak because of this doctrine.

Does anyone know how church leaders are taught to counsel men who may potentially marry a widow? Are they encouraged or discouraged from marrying without the hope of temple sealing?

Jessawhy

Jessawhy is a wife, mother, community volunteer, activist and student. She is currently working towards a Physician Assistant degree.

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72 Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    Jessawhy,
    I had this exact conversation with Mike last month. My stance was that absolutely LDS widows were at a disadvantage.

    I know a young woman who was widowed when she was 6 months pregnant with her first child. So sad. And even sadder that I see her not being as likely to remarry given her sealing status.

    I think in my ideal world women as well as men would be allowed to seal themselves to 2nd spouses. And then we could just figure that it will all get worked out in heaven.

    One positive note: recently the church changed policy and now allow dead women to be sealed to multiple husbands. But the policy of one sealing remains for living women.

  2. Caroline says:

    oops. Change that 2nd paragraph to read “And also sad that I see her not being as likely to remarry…”

  3. Coffinberry says:

    You should try the confusion that arises when such a widow does marry again (to a non-member) and then has kids who (when the new husband joins the church) then can’t figure out (during the primary lessons on the Temple) who they are sealed to.

    It made for many awkward moments for my half-brothers as we were growing up.

  4. mraynes says:

    Jessawhy, I’m glad you chose to address this issue. I have to say that I find this doctrine deeply disturbing but I had never really thought of how it affects young widows. DH’s grandmother was a young widow who chose to remarry a few years later. I know she is planning to be sealed to her second husband after she dies with the hope that the Lord will sort out all of the complexities. My father-in-law will fulfill his mother’s wish to be sealed to his step-father but I know he feels conflicted on the issue.

    I agree with Caroline, either both men and women should be able to seal themselves to 2nd spouses or we should just do away with the practice altogether. My personal vote is to get rid of second sealings; if a change needs to be made, I believe the Lord is powerful enough to make it happen.

  5. Jana says:

    I had a close family member who was a young widow (age 30). At least one of the men that she considered marrying after her husband’s death wouldn’t consider it because he wanted to be sealed to her (at the time she was unwilling to cancel her first sealing). Eventually she did cancel her sealing so she could marry again in the temple. But getting the sealing wasn’t easy and it was emotionally traumatizing to her in many ways.

    I so wish she’d just been allowed to marry without the canceling the first sealing, figuring that it would all sort out in the afterlife.

  6. Alisa says:

    My grandma (actually my step-gradmother) wants to be sealed to my deceased grandpa, but because she had a sealing and one child before, we’ll have to wait until she’s gone to do the work. It’s really sad, because she loves my grandpa (her second husband) so much more. Although she’s the only grandma I know, and I want to be with her forever, personally, I think we shouldn’t be hanging on to polygamy in the afterlife and think we should just end the confusion there. God can sort these things out. We’ll have a millenium after all.

  7. FoxyJ says:

    I also have a close family member who was widowed suddenly at the age of 31 with a one-year-old. They had only been married for 4 years at the time. She faces this dilemma in dating–she has told me that it is hard to imagine living with someone for another 20-30 years and not being sealed to them, but it’s just as hard to live the rest of your life alone. And if you think trying to find marriageable men when you’re in your late 30s, try doing that when you also have a child. Widowers definitely have the advantage and usually get married pretty quickly.

  8. G says:

    oh, what a sad story, my heart goes out to that young widow.

    this topic was actually a pretty hot one in the various singles wards I attended, but once I graduated to the family wards it’s like it went away, deep underground.

    obviously, spouses of both genders should be able to be sealed again after the death of their companion.

    I can’t see any reason why this policy should be a difficult one to change (chalk it up to letting God and the couples involved working it out in the hereafter). but it will probably take the women of the church raising awareness about the the emotional trauma the current policy adds to an already difficult time.

  9. gladtobeamom says:

    My aunt lost her husband in Veitnam. She was young and pregnant. It was hard for her because she loved my uncle and he was a wonderful man. She was lucky that she met a man who had lost his wife and was willing to marry her and understood they couldn’t be sealed. It is hard for them they have been together for a long time and love each other as much as they loved their former spouses. They choose not to get so wrapped up in what might happen latter that they don’t enjoy life now. They know the Lord loves them and some how it will all work out in the end.

    I realized there are many who are not this lucky and I can’t imagine how hard it must be. I think we don’t even begin to imagine our afterlife. We get so wrapped up in what we think we understand that we miss out on some wonderful opportunities in this life.

  10. Anon says:

    “Because of her sealing to her deceased husband, she is not on the market eternally”

    “One positive note: recently the church changed policy and now allow dead women to be sealed to multiple husbands. But the policy of one sealing remains for living women.”

    Both these statements are not completely correct. It is sites like this that perpetuate this kind of disinformation. Please don’t make comments like these unless you actually know the situation.

  11. Zenaida says:

    I’m so excited to hear that the policy has changed for deceased women. That’s a step in the right direction.

  12. jana says:

    Anon:
    I’d like to know what parts of those statements you think are factually incorrect. I see no inconsistencies with what it says about these matters in the GHI.

  13. jana says:

    This is a comment that’s totally unrelated to the thread at hand, but can I just say that I love that wordpress is adding widget images that resemble quilt squares?

    Every time I see them I kind of get a bit of a thrill–it’s the Mormon quilter woman in me that’s validated, I suppose. :)

  14. nicole says:

    I have a close family member widowed at the age of 26 when her husband was hit riding his bike. She finds and dates wonderful guys, but they can’t get past the fact that she won’t break her temple marriage to her husband to marry them in the temple. It’s very sad that she has to make that choice at all. This needs to change. Wonderful post.

  15. Jessawhy says:

    Thanks for the comments, everyone.
    I forgot to mention that I have a great-aunt who was widowed in her 50s and later remarried a widower (in their 70s) they are both sealed to their former spouses and seem to be very happy.

    Anon, I’m sorry to have been sending out misinformation, but that is what the comments are for. If you have better information, please let us know so that we no longer “perpetuate this kind of disinformation.” If you don’t have anything to add, and you just think we shouldn’t be discussing the topic at all, I’ll politely disagree. In my experience, just feeling sorry for people isn’t good enough, we need to put ourselves in their shoes and think about how we would deal with specific tragedies, in order to be prepared on some level when those tragedies happen to us or those we love. Just ignoring other’s difficult circumstances because we don’t know every detail doesn’t seem helpful for me or anyone else.
    I do appreciate the need to give accurate information and I welcome any experiences to amend or contradict my assertions.

    I, too, hope the church changes this policy, but it is problematic considering our focus on eternal families and on the polygamy sections of the D&C.
    Perhaps young widows are such a small percentage of the church membership that they really have no voice when it comes to this doctrine.

  16. Dan says:

    Very thought provoking post. My wife has told me that if she dies I can just go marry another and “add to the harem…” I don’t think that I’m a huge fan of that personnally. On the flip side however, what happens to the young man that marries a woman in good faith, where both parties expected to grow old together and he dies before his time. Should he be denied the opportunity to be sealed to his wife forever? I don’t know the answer to that question, I just thought that I would add it to the mix.

  17. berzerkcarrottop says:

    From pg 86 of the handbook:

    Deceased Women: A deceased woman may be sealed to all men to whom she was legally married during her life. However, if she was sealed to a husband during her life, all her husbands must be deceased before she may be sealed to a husband to whom she was not sealed during life.

    Deceased Men: A deceased man may have sealed to him all women to whom he was legally married during his life if they are deceased or if they are living and not sealed to another man.

    My husband and I were disucssing this last night and he said the “sealing” section of the handbook was the weirdest to read because none of the “rules” seem to make sense. He thinks they should make the rules the same for both genders and I agree.

    If a man didn’t want to marry me because I was already sealed to my dead husband, then he’s probably not someone I’d want to marry anyway.

  18. Melanie2 says:

    I’m pretty sure that the Handbook is superseded by letters from the First Presidency and other officially-communicated policy changes (which would theoretically then be reflected in the next edition of the Handbook). I don’t know anything about this specific topic, but that might be where the confusion is coming from between what Berzerkcarrottop is quoting and what Anon believes is correct.

  19. Bee says:

    This is a topic that has bothered me for some time. I agree with everyone else that it should be the same policy for both sexes. My husband does not understand why I feel there is inequality between the sexes at church, and it’s because of these kinds of things.

    My husband’s brother is very dear to me. He has never been married. We always joke that if my DH dies, I will marry the BIL– but it’s not really a joke. The thing that upsets me is, if that were to happen then as I understand it BIL would not be able to go to the “highest kingdom”, solely because I would not be able to be sealed to him.

  20. jessawhy says:

    Just a last comment.
    I told my husband about this thread. (he isn’t interested in reading the blog)
    and his answer to the plight of a young LDS widow?
    “It doesn’t matter.”

  21. I don’t get it. Why doesn’t it matter? Was this an outrageous thing to say? Or insensitive? Or dismissive of doctrine? Did he clarify at all what he meant?

  22. Alizarincrimson says:

    John, I don’t get this either. When Jessawhy’s husband says, “It doesn’t matter,” is he discounting the very real pain widows and their families often feel because of this sexist, insensitive, confusing doctrine? it really boils my behind when (usually maie) leaders in the Church pooh-pooh sincere questioning by claiming it doesn’t matter. Well, maybe TO THEM it’s inconsequential! I mean no disrespect to Mr. Jessawhy, but it’s funny how:

    “It doesn’t matter” that single people aren’t ever allowed to have self-generated orgasms, because that’s s-s-s-s-sinful–or so say the inspired men in the suits and cushy Conference seats (who we gladly sustain), who have been married for decades and don’t have to deal with the pain and loneliness of celibacy.

    “It doesn’t matter” that gays are never, ever supposed to marry someone they’re sexually attracted to–so say the male and female leaders and Church members we sustain and look up to who are either happily married, dating, looking forward to getting married, or some combination of the above.

    “It doesn’t matter”, says the same men in suits, “that widows can’t be sealed in life to a second man with whom she’s fallen in love. When that man has never been sealed himself (never-previously married), it DOES matter. How can it not?

    Excuse me, but it really, really, really seems patronizing when I hear brush-offs like, “It will all work out in the end!” “You can have all the sex you want after you die!”, “You can just pick whichever husband you want in the afterlife!” “Ooh, Heavenly Father loves you–it doesn’t matter that you married outside the Church; just do your best and it will all work out the same as if you did!”

    Either things matter or they don’t. Sorry for the rant.

  23. o hainey says:

    if a mormen women is married to a non member and goes to the temple, who is she sealed to?

  24. Caroline says:

    Then she’s sealed in marriage to no one.

    The endowment ceremony is an entirely different ritual than a marital sealing ceremony. One can get her endowments without then getting sealed.

  25. b3 says:

    I think it’s interesting that not one of your commentators is actually in the situation described. I am. After my husband died one of the biggest feelings I was left with was that our minds are so narrow here and what we think and judge here in this life as far as limitations (to the atonement, to marriage, to lots of things) just don’t apply. I kind of agree with Jessawhy’s husband who said “it doesn’t matter”. I have several questions for Heavenly Father when I get there that I know I can’t handle the answer to right now. Line upon line, precept upon precept thing—we want concrete answers for things that are literally “veiled” to us and I just don’t think we’re ready, well, I know I’m not.

    I’m not worried about which husband (past or future) that I’m sealed to, rather, I’m worried about being worthy of being sealed to someone at all and worthy of the spirit every day, which is so hard, moment to moment! I believe that a sealing is something that happens over time as we live worthy of it, kind of like in a pressure cooker. I believe that the sealing power is and will cover all who truly want to live worthy of it married in this life (including multiple times) or not.

    And to the one who talked of celibacy and the lack of orgasms…I’d rather have the spirit with me than concentrate on pleasing myself—married or not, we’re supposed to be focused on others not ourselves, that’s where true happiness, peace and freedom come from isn’t it? It is for me.

  26. Gwen says:

    My mom was widowed at 36, when I was just seven months old. She remarried when I was four to a man who had recently gone through a nasty divorce. I don’t this thought ever entered his mind. My mom still talks about my Dad and my mom and step-dad are of course not sealed to each other. They have faith that things will work out in the end for them.

  27. Ava says:

    b3, I completely agree with your observation that we have such a narrow perspective here on earth. For us to be crying out “It’s not fair!” over everything from singles and gays remaining celibate to women not having exactly the same rules as men seems to me like a slap in the face to modern revelation.

    Church policies are not something suited married men come up with to promote their agenda like politicains, but rather guidlines given to us from a loving Heavenly Father. If policies of such great importance change, it is due to revelation, not because of the outcries of the disadvantaged.

    That said, I mean no insensitivity to singles, gays or widows,etc. I know people in all categories and my heart goes out to them, feeling that their trials are certainly great, but certainly not hopeless. I also acknowledge that there are insensitive people of both genders that don’t attempt to understand what people in these situations are going through. But I, with my limited perspective, do not question the policies and commandments given to us by He who knows all things.

  28. Nicole says:

    When my husband and I first joined the church in 2001, I wondered about this. If something were to happen to my husband, (who I was sealed to in the temple in 2002), what would happen if he died?? Would I just be single the rest of my life or (if I was lucky) until I found a widower who had lost his wife to whom he was already sealed?

    So my husband and I were curious, and asked our Bishop. He said that if a husband and wife are sealed, and he dies, the woman can absolutely remarry a man who has never been sealed in the temple. He said that instead of being sealed for time and eternity, you would be sealed for time, and that God would take care of the rest. I asked,”Will I have to choose between them?” To which he answered, “God will work it out to everyone’s best interest once we get there. Don’t worry!”

    I have faith that Heavenly Father loves us and only wants the best for us. I don’t believe that he would leave a widow in a situation to be alone for the rest of her life – it goes against everything we are taught. We have been taught that we were sent here to be part of a family, and I think the Lord will provide that to those who have lost their spouses.

  29. Diane says:

    How sad that some men may not want to marry a wonderful young women because she is sealed to another and that others life was taken too soon. I have known 3 young widows during my life and each found another wonderful man to marry. I don’t think a widows future is as bleak as you make it seem. I would hope that your opinion of young widows in the church is a minority opinion and not what most would feel and judge. As if the young widow has enough to bear than for others in the church to judge her as being in a hopeless situation as your blog seems to suggest. Why worry about it? If you truly believe and have faith, than you know a loving Heavenly Father is a just and kind Father and all will work out.

  30. KyneWynn says:

    Interesting post — as a youngish widow (I was 43 when my husband died) I have encountered the, “Are you sealed?” question – -and yes, some men use it as a filter of who they date. I’m not worrying about it too much — I figure the Lord will help us sort it out in the end. Also, in an effort to address some of the needs of Widows and Widowers, a conference has been put together to do just that — I think the website for that is ldswidowersconference — or something close.

  31. JES says:

    I would assume that the greater disadvantage in being a young mormon widow is that usually they have multiple kids and are “competing” in the same market as single women with no kids. How many men would jump to marry the 34 year old with 5 kids vs. another women of a similar age with no kids?

  32. Jessawhy says:

    Kynewynn,
    I’m sorry to hear your loss. I wish you the best in the future.
    I’m actually surprised to hear that you have experience with men using your sealing as a filter. After this post went up a while ago, I thought maybe I was way off base, especially with a few of the comments. But, I’m sure experiences are different for everyone.

    I’m glad to hear that the church is looking to address this issue with a specific conference. If you go, you should let us know what you think of it.

    Thanks.

    JES,
    I think part of the issue surrounds having children already, but that can apply to women who are divorced as well (which I assume make up the majority of women with children who are looking to remarry).
    In fact, to a potential husband, perhaps fatherless children are more sympathetic than children who have a dad who shares custody (and all the complications that go with that).
    Again, I have very little experience here, but I’m just guessing.

    All of these situations seem very difficult and my heart goes out to people who are navigating these rough waters.

  33. KyneWynn says:

    Thank you Jessawhy — with time it gets a little easier. The whole sealing topic has come up in conversation many times, and there is confusion, and a definite filtering, for some. There are other guys, that it makes no difference to. And of course, there are other factors too. It’s been five years since my husband died, and in that time, I have learned that I will be okay, and happy, if I never marry again, and I am also okay with getting married again. I would welcome the opportunity if it ever comes up. I liked being married, and my “baggage” is different than that of a divorcee — there are losses associated with both, but they are different in many ways, but that is a different subject.

    In regards to the conference, it is being put on by a group of widows and widowers (not sponsored by the church) — who saw a need and have acted to fill it. There will be speakers and workshop addressing the unique needs of LDS Widows and Widowers; topics that don’t get directly covered in a general singles conference. It will be March 17 – 19, in Layton, Utah– if anyone wants more information, let me know.

  34. widowin04 says:

    I became a widow in 2004, at the age of 24. I was married/sealed to my amazing husband for 6 years and we had 2 children, who were 4 and 1 at the time. I recently remarried another amazing man. All I can say is WOW. I am kind of surprised at the comments. Only one person who has commented has ACTUALLY been a widow. I find it strange that you are so concerned with a subject you know pretty much nothing about. I just wish all of you had a little more faith and understanding of our Heavenly Father. First, our Father is a fair and a just God. I agree with Anon that Jessawhy’s statements are incorrect. If you are so concerned about the Lord’s stance on this issue, then I suggest you ask him to take your husband’s life and then you spend some time in widowhood. Then, you pray and go to the temple and seek advice from your spiritual leaders about this subject. Because, then you will realize that love is so much deeper than you can imagine. And your concerns sound pretty silly to an actual widow. Do you also think that children from divorces will also have to “pick” which parent they will live with through eternity? I just wish everyone would have a little more faith and rely on their Heavenly Father to answer any questions they have about religion. Why would bring questions like these to a blog to discuss. Do you really want a spiritual answer? Because you’re asking the wrong people.

  35. Diane says:

    Widowin04 Amen! Wish I could have said it as well as you. My daughter became a widow unexpectedly in 2009, she is 25 and has two little girls. I really hope the opinions here are not what most would feel of a young widow. I also agree, they are not asking the right people on this issue. Anyone of us can become a widow and any time and I hope no one has to deal with others in the church judging them and feeling their life now is so bleak. Thank you so much for your post.

    • Don McDonald says:

      If a man is so vain and self-centered as to pass by a good woman and fine children he came to care for here on earth because of doubts as to his primacy in eternity…well, to start with they will be better off without him. Life here is but a passing moment, if we do His work here, He WILL see to the eternal reward of the just…we may not be able to understand the hows and whys…but that’s His job.

  36. mraynes says:

    widowin04, I’m sorry for your loss and I’m glad that things have turned out so well for you. That being said, I wish that your response to Jessawhy had been a little bit more charitable. As it is, your comment comes very close to breaking our comment policy, specifically #3 and #4. Jessawhy wasn’t trying to be faithless or offensive, she was genuinely asking if the current policy of the church makes a really difficult situation even more painful. The comments have reflected that some people have been harmed by this practice and that others have not. Just because you were never discriminated against because of your widow status doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen to others. I think it behooves us to validate all experiences in this matter, to do other than that would be cruel. You are more than welcome to express your opinion and experience on this and any topic but please try to do so in a manner that is compassionate and gives others the benefit of the doubt.

  37. Kimberly says:

    I don’t have time to write much at the moment. I just happened upon this article and discussion while searching some young widow information on the internet. My husband died nearly 6 years ago. I was 41 at the time. I’ve experienced many sides of this discussion and may indulge in sharing thoughts and opinions at a later date, but my purpose in writing is to offer the dates and website address for anyone that may want information on the Young Widows and Widowers Conference. KyneWynn is a good friend and I was so happy to see her mention the conference on here. I can never remember the website address either, so I took the liberty of copying and pasting it to be sure I got it right. See below:
    Website- http://www.ldswidowsconference.com
    The conference is this weekend, March 19-21. This topic will most certainly come up and be discussed. One of the workshops is a panel discussion with young widows and widowers that have remarried. Some of our participants are in their 20’s and have remarried wonderful young men. It will be interesting to hear what they have to say. As for me, I love the fact that we know we have the power to seal on earth our covenant relationships with restored Priesthood keys and authority. I have confidence in Heavenly Father. We don’t call it the Plan of Happiness for no reason. As a widow, I can choose sadness or happiness. Sadness and tears have their place and heaven knows I indulge, but for the most part I choose happiness…at least that’s my plan!

  38. JB says:

    I’m a relatively young widower. My wife died almost 4 years ago. From my discussion with several young widows, I think the sealing issue does limit their remarriage opportunities to some degree. On a different but similar note, a woman I dated for a short while kindly but clearly told me that she would not consider marrying me for the very reason that I had been previously sealed. Her perspective, which I respect, was that she wanted to be sealed to a man who had no other sealing. She didn’t want to “share” that eternal relationship with anyone else. Like I said, I could respect how she felt and it helped me understand somewhat the difficulty that a young, sealed, widower might experience. Does all of this matter? Of course it does! How we feel and the pain we experience deeply matters to our Loving Father. As Nephi said: “I know that [Heavenly Father]loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” 1 Nephi 11:17

  39. Kelly Ann says:

    JB, thanks for your comment. I use to say that I would never want to marry a widower for that reason. However, the concept seems odd to me now – to place so much focus on the ifs and maybes of the future afterlife and not focus on the now present life that I am living.

    I have recently come to the conclusion that I should not exclude either divorced or widowed men in dating. Perhaps it is because I’m 31 and there is a certain possibility that someone might fit into that category in my age bracket. But as I have also decided to expand my horizons by dating outside of the church, I think I should expand my horizons dating within the church.

    However, I was thinking about the ramifications of this. Would I be ready to be a step-parent? Would I worry at times about the eternal consequences?

    The ongoing discussion here and elsewhere has made me think a lot about what a widower would feel. And that those women or men who loose a spouse may have greater difficulty than I with these issues. Not to mention any off-handed perceptions that they might encounter.

  40. RCK says:

    Hi. This is a very interesting discussion and I think a lot of people do worry or at least think about these things. My parents are divorced and my father is remarried to a great woman but for whatever reason they have decided not to be married in the temple so my father remains sealed to my mother even though they were not able to maintain their relationship. This has been many years now and I can say that I am at peace with it and it never troubles me anymore. More recently I have become interested in dating a woman who is a widow and I have to admit that it has crossed my mind that I hope that no one is ever put in a position of having to pick between two spouses, regardless of which one they are sealed to or not. Really, truly, I think our capacity to understand the afterlife, to understand God’s ways, is so very tiny–we are so very unable to understand. That doesn’t mean we don’t have feelings or fears or don’t think about things but ultimately that’s how I resolve things in my mind. I read a great book one time that compared our ability to understand God’s ways to the ability of a cat to understand humans. A cat shares space with humans but the cat’s understanding is totally different, different instincts, a totally different reality. We think we should be able to understand God because we have brains and hearts and we can think but really everything is out of context, we are missing huge pieces of basic information that would unlock an infinity of comprehension. So I say, live now, love now, let our hearts spill over with love for whomever is in our lives, children, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, spouses and ignore the “what ifs” and at the end of the day I will put all my bets on a loving God.

  41. Jessawhyt says:

    RCK,
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I especially like your conclusion,

    I will put all my bets on a loving God.

    Amen.

  42. Darlene says:

    It is of real concern and heartache to me. I am 42 and my husband died last November. Our 2 girls are 19 and 21 and both in college thank gosh but I am scared, lonely, and heartbroken. I don’t know if anyone will EVER want me unless I marry someone who is 60 or 70 and not of my own age. Men my age many times are just now settling down and having children. I am so afraid I will spend the rest of my life lonely, 40 years or so, and die alone with no one there to hold my hand. I am terrified. On the other hand I would never marry outside the church because my late hubby was not the best follower of the faith and neither was I at the time, but I really missed him really being the head of our household and the Priesthood Leadership and Fatherly leadership he could have had in our family, but I would NEVER break my sealing to him. I was married to him for 22 years and he was so loyal and kind. He went through medical issue after medical issue with me never leaving my side, but I am so scarred to be alone. I can’t tell you how hard this is and how completely terrified I am and how hard it is to go to church on Sunday seeing all these families and not just breaking apart crying for fear for my future, (stay at home mom, now with no income or insurance) complete and utter saddness for what could have been and will not be with my husband, and just plain fear of the unknown. I don’t have any girlfriends I can talk to either so it really is a lonely lonely feeling and scarry. I hope this helps you brothers to understand from the other side.

  43. MH says:

    Darlene, sounds like you’ve been through a really hard situation. I am sorry about your loss–you and your husband seem to have really grown together as you faced many difficulties. I wish there were a quick answer or solution to what you’re experiencing. I admire your openness and determination in a challenging time. Thanks for helping others by sharing your perspective.

  44. Jessawhy says:

    Darlene,
    It sounds like you’re in a very difficult and painful situation. I wish you the best in your search to find someone to spend the rest of your life with.
    I hope that you will be open with your priesthood leaders about your concerns. I think that is the only way we can see a policy change that will affect women like you (and potentially many of us).
    Again, I wish you all the best and send you hugs and kisses of support.

  45. Andrea says:

    As a non-Mormon, I have been wondering how all this works. I have two questions: first, if a sealed marriage is for eternity and if men can have multiple wives in Heaven, how does a change in church policy (regarding women who are already dead) change heavenly policy? Did that also change?
    My second question is a much bigger one, and you’ve probably heard it many times from people like me: If Jesus said that in Heaven, no one will be married or given in marriage (Matt 22:30), how is it that Mormons will be married for eternity? It’s a lovely thought (although I don’t get the spiritual polygamy concept…), but doesn’t seem to be Biblically supported.
    I really feel for women who are widowed and eternally “taken” already. In a culture that values marriage and family so very highly, it puts them in a potentially bleak situation for their earthly future.
    Thanks for your post!

  46. Mandy M says:

    Andrea,
    The piece in Matthew is incomplete, as are many parts of the Bible. Unfortunately when it was compiled, much was lost, which is why it’s so important that we have modern-day revelation from God. The full passage is in our Doctine and Covenants (one of our books of scripture). I’m pasting it here – but there are some subscript letters that are part of the paste so please ignore them if I missed any :) I hope this helps explain the doctrine:

    15 Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world.
    16 Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.
    17 For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.
    18 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world it cannot be received there, because the angels and the gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory; for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God.
    19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent iblood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

  47. dee says:

    I stumbled upon this site….I am a widow. I converted after my husband passed away 1 1/2 yrs ago…..I DO wonder what to do? Get sealed to him ad pray that he agrees? Even though on earth he did not? And will I ever be in a family atmosphere again……being a widow is very hard on my heart. I do trust that my Father will ake everything ok, just hard sometimes.

    • Caroline says:

      thank you for sharing your story, dee. I’m wishing you the very best in what I know is a terribly difficult situation.

  48. Geez, I’m spending a lot of time on this blog…!

    Okay, well, my understanding is that all marriages for time become marriages for eternity. So, if a temple-married woman becomes a widow and then marries again outside the temple, and then becomes a widow again, and then marries again outside the temple, and so on and so forth, all of these men she was married to become her eternally sealed husbands in the eternities. Same goes for men. Even if such a scenario occurred for both men and women, but no temple marriage ever occurred during their lifetimes, after they are dead the work for the dead will be done for them and they will be sealed to all of their spouses. Thus, there is no such thing as a marriage for time only. The Lord makes all the for-time weddings of His children for-eternity weddings through the work for the dead and then let’s them accept or reject the ordinance.

    Polygyny alone does not exist in heaven. Nor polyandry alone. In the heavens it is a multihusband-multiwife order. In the next life, nobody gets the choice to choose one spouse over another, such as you may have been told or think. The choice we receive there is to be married or to not be married. If we choose to be married, then we are married to all of our spouses that also choose to be married. In the heavens, the rule is having all things common, including spouses. And if we choose not to be married, we become married to no one.

    Because of this, everyone is “on the market eternally,” as you put it, even widows. The barrier to marrying widows is not the gospel, but our skewed perception of it. That, and monogamy.

  49. Darren Turley says:

    For all of you LDS widows and widowers that would like a group to talk to about these issues, there is a Facebook group called LDS Widows & Widowers. There was a big conference last March in Utah and a smaller one in October. It was so successful that it looks like it will be an annual thing. There are forums to talk about all of these issues discussed here.

  50. Don McDonald says:

    I am not a member, but from the outside, (unless this conflicts with your teachings), if I was, and saw before me a widow (with or without children) who I had come to respect, cherish, and care for…after taking her faith and marrying, none of these questions would give me the slightest pause. We are not meant to totally know His mind, but rather to do the work and live the lives that He has put before us…I have no doubt that as He is just, merciful, and loves us, that in another place He will be able to show us His will and solution, and that it will be to our perfect satisfaction.

    If in eternity as a second husband I was to be transformed into the Uncle, or younger brother who was permitted to share the life of a good woman and was permitted to have helped to raise their children to be upright and good people…well, where in eternity would I feel that I had lost anything? I would have done the work that was set before me as well as I could and would have no regrets at all…He would see to whatever reward I deserved, I would not be the lesser…

  51. Crest says:

    I’m under 25 and widowed and I can tell you that from all the young widows I’ve been connected to, it’s very difficult to get re-married. A lot of men that these other widows (30 and under) dated, wanted some of my widowed friends to break their sealings in order for them to get married. Others don’t want to be a father to children they’re not sealed to and the new husband will not be sealed to any of his future children. It’s very difficult and a tough situation. The church doctrine really pushes eternal marriage. So these men want that as well (can we blame them?). So because of the membership of the church I’m somehow disadvantaged, however, I do know that because of my membership I will see my husband again.

    To answer your question, yes, we have to choose. My children can seal me and my second husband after we both die, but not before that. Do I want to be sealed to the man I was married to for 2 years or the one I will live with, have children with, go through hardships with, for the next 50+ years?

    • Elle says:

      I’ve always wondered the same thing. I’ve wondered if my husband died before we had children how would a future husband, with which we had children, feel about not being sealed to me? And what about future children- are they considered born in the covenant if both parents are endowed but not sealed to each other?

  52. Jessawhy says:

    Crest,
    Thank you for commenting on this thread. I think it’s important to keep this conversation open.

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I hope that you can find a solution to the dilemma of a temple sealing with a second husband. Perhaps when more women like you tell church leaders about your experiences seeking remarriage after being widowed, we will see the church policies change.

    I wish you the very best now and in the future.

  53. Diane says:

    May things have changed because I had a friend marry a widower ( a man with four young children) They were sealed in the temple. so, I’m not sure why there would be any more difficulty in a widower to get remarried, any more than a widow, other than the polygany aspect

  54. Crest says:

    Dianne,
    I am certain they were not sealed as I was told by my stake president that I cannot be sealed in the Temple. The only way I can be married for time in the Temple is if I marry a widower. Neither of us can ever have been divorced either. He read it straight out of the handbook to me last November.

    • Mary Jo Anhalt says:

      1). My grandmother was widowed with 3 daughters under age 5. With tremendous family support, she raised them to maturity, THEN married a second husband for time. The step-grandfather I knew was a blessing to us all, but died of Alzheimer’s . He became quite violent in his delusional state. I assume that third marriage was also in the Temple, but for time. It somehow never occurred to me that she would have even wanted to bear more children. She KNEW Tom was waiting for her on the other side.
      2) a dear friend who came into my life when I needed her the most had divorced her first husband for documented cause. Her current husband had also divorced his first wife for similar reasons. Together they now have 9 grown children , a Temple marriage, and a loving shared posterity.

      I guess I don’t understand why a young widow with children to raise would even WANT to have more children, especially if she has good LDS support from her literal family , including in-laws, and her Church family. Charity NEVER faileth. At any rate, these confusions will be sorted out in our next life. Can’t we wait for that?

  55. Crest says:

    One other thing. I started dating a guy who I fell in love with. Unfortunately it has taken him a lot of time to realize he is not okay with not being sealed to me, though he loves me and my child he is moving on. I’m 24 so i’m still young, and hopefully others will be more forgiving about my status, but I still can’t help but feel bitter. What did I do to deserve this? Don’t I deserve happiness? Or am I just damaged (eternally taken) goods?

  56. Nicole says:

    Hi,
    I was widowed at 29, with 3 small children. I was single for just over 5 years, and am now married to a widower. I have an ideal situation, being as we are both sealed to our first spouses, so we know this is not a forever thing. We recently had a child together, to say who he will be sealed to? It’s not really that important as long as he is sealed to someone. He will grow up and hopefully be sealed to his wife, and their children. We will probably have our children seal us together after death, so that at least the work is done for anything we decide on the other side. I know it’s hard being a single widow, wondering how things will all work out, you can drive yourself mad. It always gave me comfort to know that the kind of man that would have enough faith to marry and take care of “someone else’s kids”, potentially giving up his blessings, would be exactly the man who deserved a celestial family and much more.

  57. June says:

    I was widowed at age 53, over 4 years ago. I found the church last summer and did quite a bit of research before I decided to get baptized 4 weeks ago. This was absolutely the biggest issue that I wrestled with before deciding to join the church.
    I had a great marriage to a wonderful man, however, he was a scientist/atheist. He loved and raised my two children from a brief marriage to a terrible man when I was much younger. After much prayer, I’ve decided not to try to become sealed to my loving deceased husband, however I will offer him proxy baptisn. I don’t dare to guess whether he would accept; I simply don’t feel like it is the right thing to do.
    Meanwhile, this topic is one I’ve thought about often. If you are correct about sealings, which I believe you are, then my own situation should have the opposite effect. Rather than being seen as “damaged eternal goods”, a widowed prospective husband who has been sealed to another in the temple would likely desire my status. Am I understanding this correctly?
    Thank you all for your expertise, guidance, and insight.

  58. MB says:

    I think the key in your question is the phrase you used “after much prayer”. In spite of all the talk we do about sealings, it’s really God who knows what is the best course of action for you, your deceased husband, and any future husbands you may have.

    We talk a lot about sealings and who will be with whom but I am convinced that that is akin to trying to figure out whether the streets in heaven are paved with 12 or 14 karat gold, or what the “mansions” there will look like; the imposition of a known, limited, earthly structure upon attempts to envision a heavenly one. I suspect that eternal sealings of family are far more cosmically encompassing, inclusive, light-filled, ethereal, glorious, and mind-blowing than we envision them when we define them just as about who we’ll be living with forever.

    I believe you are on the right track, not because it will or will not necessarily make your status more “desireable” to a potential husband, but because you have made your decision a prayerful one between you and God.

  59. Joy says:

    Hi,
    I am currently going through a hard time in my marriage to my second husband.
    Most of the problems are relating to my feelings for my late husband. I suppose I went naively into my second marriage, not really admitting that I had fears that I might never move on from my first husband- who died in a car accident after we’d been married in the temple five weeks earlier.

    He thought when we married that I was fully ready to give my whole heart to him. Unfortunately I wasn’t and we’ve had some horrendous struggles because of this.
    My second husband is my best friend, confident & his attributes make up for my shortcomings. I love him, I just find it hard because I was with my first husband for such a short time that we’d never had a chance to have a real life- no arguments, disappointments, etc.
    therefore it has left the lasting impression that we were perfect together & he could do no wrong. Although I know that’s silly, I find it hard to get to grips with the reality of life & all it’s challenges v’s the perfect little marriage that I had & can have through eternity!
    Help!
    My husband & I have been having a trial separation, but there’s children involved so We are not willing to walk away so easy.
    Is it possible to put the past (even though a temple marriage is not just the past) in the past & have a heart ready for a new love? How can it be done?
    If I could flick a switch in my heart, I would!

  60. Ranie says:

    Mine may not be a popular opinion, at all…
    But, I feel compelled to write because I am finding a HUGE lack in any REAL support for my unique situation.
    I’ve met only one other widow, in 11 weeks time, who feels/thinks as I do.
    (Not very long, in the greater scheme of things, I know, but it already seems like Forever without my Love.)
    My husband & I were married nearly 8 years ago, sealed for a li’l over 4…
    He passed away unexpectedly, on July 22, 2013, of an acute response to cancer.
    Right up until, only hours before his death, we truly believed that he would be miraculously healed. We are still stunned…
    I am left to raise 3 children- 19 months, 6 years, & 11 years.
    Our Ward family is wonderful, and has been very supportive, but frankly- I feel like they’re at a loss as to how to REALLY help me.
    Because I am only 39, and our children are still so young, I suspect many people, even LDS couples who have been sealed themselves, expect me to begin dating in a year or so, and to eventually remarry.
    I don’t know how to make this crystal clear- I. AM. MARRIED!
    I am Eternally sealed to the ONE man most perfect for ME.
    I do NOT want to even THINK about dating, let alone remarriage, or more children…
    (re: more children… A week after his death, I went through what I believe was an early-miscarriage. Our li’l boy, what would’ve been our last child, the one that has come to me in my dreams for nearly three years, since shortly after our son’s stillbirth, has joined his daddy & brother. I’m still waiting for confirmation of this from Heavenly Father and Daddy. I want to be sure it isn’t just a grieving heart’s wishful thinking…)
    Re: dating/remarriage… To me, that seems like a slap to his face, at the very least- cheating, at it’s “worst”… (No need to get offended! None intended… this is simply MY opinion.)
    I was joyous, and now I’m not.
    Somehow- I will find joy again.
    It’s already coming, one moment and/or experience at a time.
    My husband’s body died, but his Soul lives on & I feel his presence often. OFTEN.
    (I’m truly grateful for that blessing!)
    We have a very strong connection, one that has merely changed since his death.
    Yes- I “deserve” to be happy.
    And, it is a choice… Not always an easy one to make either.
    But, I don’t neither need, nor want, another man to be happy & our children don’t need/want another father either. They want to DO stuff…
    They have a father, & there are lots of other local dads (LDS and others) who have expressed a sincere desire to include them in activities and outings with their own children.
    If I remarried, spending with their step-dad wouldn’t really be much different.
    Actually, I think it would make things harder on everyone…
    (I speak from experience… My dad didn’t die until I was already an adult, but I have happy memories with both him and my step-dad, AND some not-so-happy ones, too. And, along with all that, came the realization that dads & step-dads are human, too, and make mistakes just like everyone else…)
    These other dads love our children like their own… and our kids love them.
    But, there will NEVER, ever be a replacement for Daddy & none of us have any desire to even try…
    It’s complicated, I realize, and there’s no “right” or “wrong” answer- you will know what’s best for you & your situation, especially with sincere prayer.
    This feels “right” for us.
    But, I won’t lie- it sure would be nice to hear from other widows who are interested in keeping the marriage they already have alive and well, no pun intended…
    I continue to pray with, and for, my husband.
    I give him the same “love pats” I always have.
    Every time he comes to mind, I tell him that I love & miss him.
    His box of ashes rest on our bed, where his head once did.
    I hug and kiss him goodnight.
    I sleep with his pillow & pray for him to stay with me through the night.
    I talk to his pictures about anything/everything as I move throughout our home, doing my day-to-day things…
    The kids & I speak of him daily.
    They love to look at pictures of him, at all ages, and watch videos he made of them.
    Our li’l one will gleefully reach for his picture on the wall. She hugs it to her chest, kisses it and walks off with it to a corner to have a “talk”…
    We enjoy going/doing things that he either enjoyed in mortality, or would’ve liked to have done with us.
    We often enjoy his favorite foods and treats…
    Others, without that Eternal perspective (or maybe even those with), may think I’m harming myself and our children, by our refusal to “move on” or to “get over it”…
    (Frankly, I pray “they” never catch me at a bad moment, because they will bear my wrath in no uncertain terms.
    Not at all Christ-like, I know, but a very human response…)
    With what I believe is my husband’s support, we are working very hard to keep him alive in our own minds and hearts.
    It’ll be decades before any of us are reunited with him (and our stillborn son), but Love lives on in spite of Time…
    I would rather live out the rest of my days with him, but that isn’t to be… still trying to wrap my head and heart around that.
    Until then… I continue my late-night search for understanding and acceptance.

    • Tara says:

      I realize this is an old post, but I found this and I LOVE THIS. I am married, but have a fear of something happening to my husband. I have thought so long and hard about this and I love to see examples of women who believe and live this.

      So often, remarriage just seems like people trying to fill the loneliness, or be taken care of. That doesn’t sound like a reason for marriage at all. If we believe that we will live forever, then a spouse is still living after they leave their body. I don’t know why more people in the church don’t realize this.

  61. Heber Frank says:

    If a woman married in the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage loses her husband she must have the right to re-marry for time to a man who is also living this covenant. If she loses her husband to adultery, D&C 132:44 specifically commands she be given to another man in the covenant– even if it means plural marriage. If she marries a man outside the covenant she cannot live the covenant, because the covenant requires her to live under the government of her husband as long as he is living under the government of the Lord. Those who say they are going to live by the Law of the Gospel as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants, and then say they will never live plural marriage unless the US government lets them– they are contradicting themselves. For one thing, in the case of a widow the US government today would be happy for her to marry in plural marriage so she would be less of a welfare problem to them. They do not go after anyone in plural marriage today unless they are forcing women into marriages against their will, especially underage women. The LDS church is not living this covenant today. Read the Second Book of Commandments.

  62. Curious George says:

    Its so sweet how all you guys think that there is something after that moment when the lights go out. So preoccupied with your “afterlife” that you are willingly missing out on the present. Thats one great religion.

  1. April 3, 2016

    […] Young Widows in the Church: Are they disadvantaged? by Jessawhy […]

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