The Scoop: As a 30-something widow, Kerry Phillips had conflicted feelings about dating again, and she started Young, Widowed, & Dating to share her journey with the widow community. This online support group and blog has resonated with people who are going through the similar emotions and experiences. Kerry has written extensively about the challenges widows face in the dating world, and her words of wisdom has helped countless people find solace and move forward.
On a Sunday morning in the spring of 2012, Kerry Phillips saw her life change in the span of a phone call. Her father-in-law called to tell her her husband had passed away. She was 32 years old and had no idea how to lead a life without her life partner.
Years later, she still found herself with more questions than answers. Kerry had trouble expressing her feelings to the people in her life because they couldn’t relate to life as a widow. She wanted to connect with widows and widowers in her age group, but she came up empty-handed in her online searches.
In 2015, Kerry started Young, Widowed & Dating to create a support network and educational resource for widowed people like herself.
“I thought that if I’m having these feelings and asking these questions, at least one other person is in the same situation,” Kerry told us. “I thought maybe we could help each other and navigate this journey together.”
A year later, the Huffington Post featured Kerry’s advice as a young widow and raised her profile in the widow community. Messages from readers came pouring in, and Kerry found her voice after years of silent grief.
The Young, Widowed & Dating blog and support group offer a nonjudgmental space where widows and widowers can find common ground in their common struggle. Kerry shares her capable advice with a global audience and facilitates heart-to-heart conversations about the courage and strength it takes to date as a widow.
Articles Address How to Navigate Grief & Move Forward
For years after her husband passed, Kerry outright refused to date again. She thought the best way to honor her husband would be to never love anyone else until the day she died. Her mother-in-law challenged this notion and urged her to move on, but Kerry wasn’t ready.
Then she turned 36 and began seriously thinking about what a life alone would be like. She knew she would always love and miss her husband, no matter what happened, and it didn’t make sense to close herself off from the world in his name. She said the turning point came when she recognized her heart was big enough to love a potential partner as well as her husband.
“I finally realized that dating again in no way dishonors the love we had,” Kerry said. “I’m still alive, and I honor him by living my life.”
The Young, Widowed & Dating blog details Kerry’s experiences and reservations as she enters this new phase of life. She covers complicated issues including wearing a ring on a date or overcoming the stigma of a dating widow.
Kerry said she gets inspiration for new blog topics based on her life and her conversations with other widows. Her online support group has fielded questions from newly widowed men and women, and many of them just want to know if it’s all right to date and find love again.
“You have a desire to move forward, but a lot of guilt can weigh you down,” Kerry said. “Young, Widowed & Dating reassures people that it’s perfectly OK to feel this way. We’ve all gone through it. You’re not alone in your feelings, and you don’t have to hide yourself from the world.”
Young, Widowed & Dating offers emotional support and guidance to widows who are looking for a fresh start in the dating scene.
“It’s a huge responsibility and not something I take lightly,” Kerry said. “It has been such a humbling and amazing experience to see that people are healing from my words. It started as part of my healing, and now it’s become their healing.”
The Online Support Group Offers a Safe Place to Heal
In addition to her blog, Kerry runs a private Facebook group where individuals can share their stories and give each other advice. Young, Widowed & Dating connects over 8,000 members from all around the world.
The majority of members are women in their 30s or 40s, but Kerry doesn’t put an age cap on the group. “It’s as young as you feel,” she said. “I don’t have a problem adding someone who is in their 60s but is still engaged and wants to interact with a younger audience.”
Young, Widowed & Dating started with humble ambitions — Kerry said she expected about 50 people to join — and it has grown into an international network that has inspired countless real-life friendships and relationships.
Kerry said she has seen members form close connections through conversations in the forum, and some have even gone on to date and get married.
In 2019, Kerry officiated a wedding for Karen and Chuck, a couple who met in the group and fell in love. The Young, Widowed & Dating group had organized an in-person meetup in Denver that year, and the couple jumped on the opportunity to tie the knot with their online friends as witnesses and Kerry as officiant.
“It was such an honor that they trusted me with such a special moment,” she said. “Hands down, that has been the most amazing thing that’s happened from the group.”
Sharing Insights From 100 Widows in a Self-Help Book
Thanks to her work in the widow community, Kerry has had many meaningful conversations with people who understand what it’s like to have loved and lost. She has seen that everyone handles grief differently and wrote a book to highlight the myriad of experiences and perspectives that come from widowhood.
“The One Thing: 100 Widows Share Lessons on Love, Loss, and Life” was published in 2018 as a resource for grieving widows seeking words of wisdom.
Kerry interviewed 100 widows and asked them the same question, “What’s the one thing you would tell a newly widowed person?” Their answers make up the 10 chapters of the book.
“The One Thing” addresses many personal issues, including sex, parenting, dating, and the stages of grief, and it does so in a relatable and compassionate voice.
The advice featured throughout the book can resonate with all kinds of readers because it shows different ways to cope and heal as a widow.
“It runs the gamut, so everyone can find something they relate to,” Kerry said. “I always say widowhood is not a mumu — it’s not one-size-fits-all.”
Many readers have left positive reviews of “‘The One Thing'” and said it helped them overcome challenges or emotional blocks in their lives.
“Kerry has provided a truth-telling resource of realness for widowed life,” said Jessica in a review. “‘The One Thing’ also does a brilliant job of conveying how everyone’s journey through loss can be different, and that there is no textbook or timetable on how to properly grieve.”
Kerry Phillips Helps Normalize the Widow Dating Experience
As she navigates the dating world, Kerry strives to set a positive example of what it means to honor a loved one’s memory while continuing to seek happiness.
Kerry has found hope and healing through her online support group, and she shares an affirmative message in her blog posts and book. Young, Widowed & Dating offers advice and encouragement based on real-life experiences, and it can provide a safe haven for people who have lost a spouse or partner.
Looking to the future, Kerry said she has challenged herself to overcome her introverted tendencies by engaging in more public speaking events. She has hosted grief-related workshops as part of Camp Widow and wants to build on that foundation to reach a larger audience in the U.S.
“I want to educate others and normalize widowhood as part of life,” she said. “I want newly widowed people to know they’re not alone and that how they feel is normal.”