General Question

AshlynM's avatar

How does one describe a deceased spouse when explaining to someone else your spouse died?

Asked by AshlynM (9447points) December 4th, 2011

What do you call your deceased spouse?

Deceased spouse?
Late spouse?
Former spouse?
Previous spouse?

What’s the correct way to go here?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

16 Answers

MrItty's avatar

“My late husband/wife”.

MrItty's avatar

Any of your other suggestions mean that you got a divorce before they passed on.

lillycoyote's avatar

I would go with @MrItty and “My late husband/wife.” I think that’s the best, the proper way to describe it. As pointed out, ex or former would imply that you divorced either prior to the death or might leave it unclear as to whether or not your spouse was deceased or not.

perspicacious's avatar

late husband

JLeslie's avatar

I agree late husband, but if the woman is very young her peers might not have the term register with them at first. I don’t know if you are curious what term to use in casual conversation or for some sort of written document or letter? Since it is unusual for young people to lose their spouse, it might still need to be clarified possibly during a conversation. When a woman says she is a widow I think it is absolutely clear to everyone her husband died.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Men can say they are “widowers.”

JLeslie's avatar

@CaptainHarley Yes of course, I should have added that. Since the OP is female I wrote from the female perspective, but she did state spouse in her question. My mistake. :) Thanks.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Not a mistake. : ))

Judi's avatar

It was a lot easier before I remarried! Now I say, “My first husband who passed away” if speaking to someone for the first time. After that I just say, “My first husband.”
Sometimes I say, “My kids dad.” I was a ver young widow. 28 with 3 kids.

keobooks's avatar

My stepfather’s father is remarried. Before he remarried, he referred to his wife as his late wife. Now that he’s remarried he says that she’s his former wife.

I think people his age think first wife implies divorce. Former wife somehow is a more “respectable” title in their minds.

Judi's avatar

@keobooks , I’ve used that too.

smilingheart1's avatar

Sometimes I say “has left the planet” (if it is in a social setting). In business phone calls etc. I refer to (Name), my deceased husband.

lillycoyote's avatar

I’m trying to remember how my father referred to my mother after she died and for the life of my I can’t, but he would have referred to her differently in conversations he had with other people as opposed to conversations he had with me. I know, in recounting conversations he had with other people, that he said he would say to them “I lost my wife too” or “I am also a widower.” I don’t think he talked about it much, just when someone else brought it up or shared that they had also lost a spouse.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

Deceased spouse – Sounds depressing.

Late spouse – Quick, polite, and to the point. Best description out of the options you listed.

Former spouse – Makes it sound like you divorced.

Ex – Makes it sound like you divorced.

Previous spouse – Makes it sound like you divorced.

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