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Helen McCrory told her husband Damian Lewis (pictured) that she expected him to find a new partner, when facing her premature death

Helen McCrory told her husband Damian Lewis (pictured) that she expected him to find a new partner, when facing her premature death

Helen McCrory told her husband Damian Lewis (pictured) that she expected him to find a new partner, when facing her premature death

NO

By Linda Kelsey

Over the past couple of years, I have witnessed what I consider to be a frankly horrible phenomenon: women who stalk widowers.

No sooner is the wife’s body laid to rest than a sympathetic woman — or three — pops up to offer a shoulder to cry on.

One dear friend in his late 60s, who lost his wife to Covid at the beginning of the pandemic, began taking long morning walks with his Labrador on our local heath. He couldn’t help but notice the fit, fiftysomething woman with her cockapoo, who seemed to do the 8am shift as frequently as he did. She always looked surprisingly groomed for such an early start.

The first few times they crossed paths, they nodded; the next few, they smiled. Then she made the opening gambit. ‘I knew your wife slightly from Zumba. I’m so sorry for your loss.’

She suggested a coffee one morning — a chat on a bench with takeaway cups. Sounded innocent enough. But word soon got round that he was being tailed by a woman who had form for trying to snare wealthy widowers. He failed to fall for her charms — his grief was too raw — but others I know have succumbed so quickly it takes my breath away.

It is very disrespectful to circle like a vulture 

Linda Kelsey (pictured) said women who circle widowers are looking for a meal ticket and a passport to the good life they believe they deserve

Linda Kelsey (pictured) said women who circle widowers are looking for a meal ticket and a passport to the good life they believe they deserve

Linda Kelsey (pictured) said women who circle widowers are looking for a meal ticket and a passport to the good life they believe they deserve

One, within six weeks of his wife dying of cancer, began seeing a woman from the tennis club, who kept turning up with home-baked cookies, before offering to cook supper for him in a kitchen full of his late wife’s beloved cookbooks. His teenage children were horrified.

Of course, it takes two to tango. Men who have been well cared for by their wives are often hopeless at looking after themselves, but there is such a thing as a decent interval.

A year sounds about right. Time to grieve. Time to reflect. Time to test your resilience. And, most importantly, time to respect the children, for whom the pain of seeing their mother so rapidly replaced only adds to the grief of losing her.

But these women are ruthless. They recognise that a man who had a good marriage until the end is better husband material than one who walked out on his wife, or is nursing rage towards his ex. That by the time you get to middle age, a widower is certainly a better bet than the few men who have never committed and aren’t likely to now.

But my suspicion is that the women who circle widowers like vultures aren’t really that interested in true love. What they want is a meal ticket and a passport to the good life they believe they deserve.

Bel Mooney (pictured) said men in the habit of a loving relationship can fall quite soon

Bel Mooney (pictured) said men in the habit of a loving relationship can fall quite soon

Bel Mooney (pictured) said men in the habit of a loving relationship can fall quite soon

YES

By Bel Mooney 

Here they come, with gifts of food in their hands and hope in their hearts, offering shoulders for the widower to cry on.

The ladies are courting the recently widowed man, even though he is still weeping for his wife. Should they be condemned — and he be disapproved of — if new love blossoms in that first year? I say no.

When I asked my (very loving and loyal) husband this question, his response was brisk and jokey: ‘Oh, why not get on with it? You don’t want to wait too long.’

I didn’t expect that! So I replied that, when I’m about to pop my clogs, I’m going to lay out a red carpet by the front door, emblazoned with the words, ‘Welcome, ladies’. And I’ll jolly well clear out all the valuables first.

To be serious, as they grieved together when facing her premature death, the late, lovely Helen McCrory told her husband Damian Lewis that she expected him to find a new partner.

When you love somebody so much, you want them to be happy above all else. That selfless wish is the gift you leave them, to carry them forward into the future. And just as there is no timetable for life or death, so there is none for mourning or for loving again.

Men in the habit of love can fall quite soon

I dislike the disapproval of sticky-beak onlookers when someone falls in love within a year of a spouse’s death. Yes, it can seem shocking, and it is certainly not a step to take if you’re in a panic over being alone, or in giddy lust.

The opinion of friends and family matters — and the man must not trample on their mourning by suddenly seeming happy. Of course, things should be done slowly and with caution. Women who fancy their chances (and I apologise for the crude phrase) with a recently bereaved man should have the good taste to be discreet.

He will probably want to talk about the past, and you must listen, and then listen some more. If you are a widow then you will understand, but widowed or not you’ll have to realise we all carry ‘baggage’ and the man will not forget the wife he has lost.

Many bereaved people are content with friendship, not love — in which case, don’t be disappointed.

But life will go on, and I believe that people who have learned the habit of loving within a wonderful relationship always remain ‘in training’ to carry the love onwards — and often quite soon.

Please note, it is not necessarily the same love, nor does it call into question what came before. No, it is the reawakening of a practised heart.

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