Joan Price

Sex After Grief: Do you want to share your experiences?

Sex is complicated enough when it’s easy — but when we’re in grief, it’s especially mysterious and confusing. How do we nurture ourselves as sexual beings when we’re grieving the death of a partner? Why does taking care of ourselves sexually even matter when we’d rather hide under the covers and wail? What do we do with those sexual feelings that arise despite our misery? How do we know when it’s time to open ourselves to a new sexual relationship, whether it’s a friend with benefits or a new love connection?

I am thrilled to tell you that I’m writing a new book: Sex after Grief: Navigating Your Sexuality After Loss of Your Beloved. I will draw on my own experiences as a widow since 2008. I’ll share my own raw grief journey, my sexual reawakening (and the many
stumbles along the way), my attempts to dip my toes in the dating pool, and what I learned.
This book won’t just be about me, though. As I’ve done in all my books about senior sex, I’ll include excerpts from other people’s personal stories, which will help readers see that we who have grieved have much in common, yet also much that’s different. There’s no right or wrong method or timeline for bringing our sexuality back to into our lives, whether it’s with our own hands, a well-placed vibrator, a hook-up, a new companion, or any combination.
This is where you come in. If you have experienced the grief of your partner’s death, how did you get sexual again? What was the hardest thing about opening yourself to sex with a new partner? What lessons did you learn about sex and grief that you’d be willing to share with others? What worked for you? What didn’t work? What did you learn along the way?

Additionally, I could use your experiences and perspective in these areas:

2/19/19 update: I edited this list again, deleting those topics that I no longer need and adding a few new ones. If you’d like to share your personal experiences or tips, even just a couple of sentences, I’d love to hear from you. I’ll use short excerpts from your sex-after-grief journeys along with my own, plus quotes from professionals. Choose one of these topics and email me with “Sex after Grief” as your subject header if you’d like to contribute. **DEADLINE 2/25/19!** 

  • Your first partnered sex after/during grief, what it meant to you then, what it means to you now
  • How did you know when you were ready for partnered sex with a new person?
  • Feelings of guilt/betrayal of deceased partner when you wanted sex or had sex with a new person
  • Sex after grief when you’re in a non-traditional relationship style: poly, kink, etc.
  • Adventuresome sex after partner’s death
  • Getting sexual in stages
  • Advice  about sex and grief from your grief counselor/ therapist/ coach/ surrogate
  • Dating while grieving
  • Your first time with a new partner — how did it go?
  • Communicating with a new (or potential) sex partner about desires, boundaries, uncertainty, safer sex
  •  Solo sex during grief
  • What happened next? How you moved forward. Reflections on how far you’ve come.
  • Advice for newly bereaved
  • Unexpected joy with new sexual partner
  • Cautionary tales, warnings while we’re vulnerable
If you’d like to contribute your wisdom or your story, please email me at this link with the subject “Sex after Grief.” **DEADLINE 2/25/19!** If you prefer, you may post your comment here instead of emailing — just realize that by posting, you are giving me permission to use excerpts from your comment.
Whether you post or email, I won’t divulge your name or identifying details in excerpts that I use. You’ll be anonymous in the book. Exception: If you’re a grief counselor, therapist, book author, grief support leader, sex educator, etc. who would like to be quoted with your name, specify that.

People of all genders, all sexual orientations, all relationship styles are invited to contribute. Notice that I haven’t said that you need to be age 50+. Sex after Grief will be primarily, but not exclusively, for our 50 to 80+ age group. Whether you’re older or younger than 50 and you struggled with death, bereavement, and regaining your sexuality, your story is welcome.

Thank you so much for getting involved and helping other people who share the journey we never wanted to take. I hope to hear from you.

Thank you to all of you who emailed me since I first posted this 11/25/2018. Thanks to you, this book will be filled with diverse experiences and perspectives.  

June 2019 update: the book is written!  Sex after Grief: Navigating Your Sexuality After Losing Your Beloved comes out August 2019! Learn more here.  

4 Comments

  1. gunnar on February 17, 2019 at 10:56 pm

    Is your book Sex after Grief: Navigating Your Sexuality After Loss of Your Beloved available on amazon? can't find it

    • Joan Price on February 18, 2019 at 12:55 am

      It will come out August 2019. If you subscribe to my newsletter, I'll announce availability there first. Subscribe here.

      June 2019 update: It’s available for pre-order on Amazon now! Click here.

  2. bill h on January 29, 2019 at 11:28 pm

    Joan, thank you for this wonderful blog about a subject that is still very much taboo.I have written a very lengthy account of my own delightful experience of love and sex after bereavement. It's so long that your comments section won't allow me to post it. Here’s part 1.

    My wife of 25 very happy years died relatively suddenly early last year from a very aggressive secondary cancer leaving me widowed and with a 15 year old daughter at home. I was left feeling not just grief but also extreme loneliness, not least because my daughter has a condition (no clear diagnosis) that prevents her from expressing her emotions – indeed it's hard to work out what emotions she is experiencing. Coupled with this loneliness was a surge in my sexual feelings, which I found disturbing, especially because I was finding it difficult to reach orgasm through masturbation.

    Three months after my wife died I decided to go on a dating site, aged 55, and, living in England and being a bit of a swivel-eyed leftie, the Guardian newspaper's dating site seemed a natural choice. I had no specific idea as to where it might lead or how long I might have to search. I put my relationship status as "widower"; I must confess I did wonder whether that would boost my attractiveness, having read accounts in the media of men who claimed to have been pursued by a variety of women when on account of their widower status. I decided from the outset that I wanted someone of about my own age, so in the "age range" box I put "50 to 60". My wife and I were seven months apart in age, and we both felt it was a big help to be " ageing together".

    As it turned out I didn't get much initial response at all despite expressing my interest to maybe half a dozen women. However, one woman contacted me – all call her Ann, having been impressed by the profile I'd written, and we very quickly got into a very deep correspondence about our lives – my bereavement her abandonment by the man whose five children she had borne. Early on she admitted that she lied about her age in her profile – she wasn't 59 but 61, six years my senior. This did throw me at first, but then I thought: “men age quicker than women , so Ann and I really would be ageing together”. Our correspondence was impeccably chaste – we didn’t exchange photos beyond those that we’d put on our web profiles. Nevertheless, I was getting strong feelings for Ann, but she was reluctant to meet, feeling that my grief would still be very raw, and felt that we should put this off. Her emails became few and far between, so, despite feeling that I was being in some way “unfaithful”, I went back to the Guardian and decided to narrow my search to “widows”.

    Straight away a profile of a smiling 60 year old woman – I’ll call her Caroline – living not too far away, came up. Having previously felt completely comfortable and distinctly desirous towards a woman six years my senior I now had no qualms whatever about dating one five years older. We shared many interests, apart from bereavement, and I dashed off, I must confess, a distinctly ambiguous response to her expressing a wish to meet, “if only to share experiences of being bereaved”. Without hesitation she invited me to meet up near her home in about five days’ time.

    Over the days prior to meeting we engaged in a frenetic exchange of emails: 26 in four days! We bared our souls to one another, and reminisced about the wonderful spouses we had lost! She had lost her husband to cancer just over a year before, and, like Ann, was initially a little shocked to hear that I was widowed only four months previously. It seemed strange to be talking so much about our “ex-partners” – not the recommended formula for successful dating, but then, as I’ve said, the aim of our meeting up was distinctly ambiguous.

    • Joan Price on June 14, 2019 at 1:47 pm

      I know you’re leaving us hanging here, Bill H, and I’m pleased to say that more of your story appears in Sex After Grief!

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