Young Widows in the Church: Are they disadvantaged?

Posted by on May 19, 2008 in Mormon women | 70 comments

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?

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70 Comments

  1. Hello –
    I am pretty sure that I am the widow you are referring to. My email is [email protected]. I would just like to confirm it out of curiosity. I’d rather not leave specific details about which stake – just in case. I found this post on a facebook page entitled lds widows and widowers.

    Thanks – Nicole

  2. 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?

    • 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

    • 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?

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

    • Sealings follow the mother. Your babies are yours regardless of the man you are with.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

    • 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.

  12. 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.

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