Suddenly Single: A Practical Guide to Maintaining Your Household When Your Spouse Is No Longer Available

A practical guide for those who have lost their spouse

Here's what's in the book

  • Be more able to move on after losing your spouse to sudden death, disease, or divorce
  • Live more independently by knowing how to do things your spouse normally took care of
  • Get more peace of mind, knowing that your home is safer for you to live in
  • Find practical wisdom for family and friends who have lost a spouse (or will soon)
  • Feel more included again in your family and community

Be the first to know when it comes out

For widows
A young widow struggling with what to do after losing her husband suddenly.

Keep unexpected bills from rocking your world.

Losing your husband has been difficult for you already. You didn't need the bad surprises of unexpected medical bills, home maintenance problems, and car maintenance that costs more than you thought it would.

Suddenly Single can help you:

  • Get back on track (or stay on track) financially
  • Solve things that go wrong in your home
  • Learn about household tools and correct ways to use them
  • Take care of your yard
  • Maintain your car without unexpected costs
  • Downsize your home - or prepare your home for life without your spouse
  • Make it through extreme weather
  • Know what to do in case you have a medical emergency
  • Know when and how to hire professionals for any of the above

For widowers

Get better at what your spouse was good at.

You may have a lot more time on your hands now, but you are also dealing with grief. Even if you were the one in the family who bore the primary responsibility for providing, you are still vulnerable. And your tendency may be to turn to many sources of information that could contradict each other or to withdraw from social activity.

Suddenly Single can help you:

  • Know what to do in case you have a medical emergency
  • Be a blessing to others, in spite of your own pain
  • Travel to places you always wanted to visit
  • Keep your house clean
  • Eat well without having to always eat out
  • Get your home to look good for guests, even if you aren't a decorator
  • Do laundry without embarrassing results

For divorcees

Be included in your family again.

Whether you expected losing your spouse to divorce or not, your divorce left you vulnerable. Attorneys, courts, and perhaps custody issues are giving you even more trouble. You feel like you have to make big life decisions while the wounds are still fresh.

Plus, there's the social stigma. People wonder, sometimes out loud, why the divorce happened. Advice books may have told you that you should have stayed together, even when you had to leave a scary situation or had no choice in the matter.

Written by someone who has been in your situation herself, Suddenly Single can help you:

  • Regain control of your finances
  • Stay integrated in your community and at work
  • Learn about household tools and correct ways to use them
  • Avoid embarrassing or expensive mishaps with household items or chores
  • Move to a new and/or smaller home
  • Continue hosting guests in your home
  • Date again when you're ready, avoiding people who will take advantage of you

For people whose spouses have debilitating illnesses

Keep your household going when your spouse can't.

As someone whose spouse's health is failing, you are in a situation that may feel unique. You may not think of yourself as single yet, but it is looming years, months, or days away.

Meanwhile, you're stretched thin as caring for your spouse, caring for your own health, work, and social obligations all take their toll. A lot of advice seems to put more of a burden on you than you already have, and you may be struggling to do the things that your spouse used to be able to take care of for you.

Suddenly Single gives you advice that meets you where you are, from handling home maintenance and financial matters to avoiding embarrassments with laundry and cleaning your house.

For people with terminal illnesses

Make the most of the time you have left with those you love.

Life was just moving along for you, but then a scary diagnosis came. It left you with no hope. And you were wondering: What will happen to my family when they lose not only me, but also what I know?

Whether you have years, months, or days left, Suddenly Single can help you prepare your family for life without you.

Written for those who have lost a spouse in any way (including sudden death, short- or long-term illness, or divorce), it gives you a thorough but simple reference guide for helping you feel secure that your family has everything they need.

For family and friends of widows and widowers

Help your grieving loved ones from any distance.

Your own life is busy enough. Work barely gave you any time off to grieve the loss of a parent or other loved one, and now there is a widow, widower, or divorcee in your family who needs your help.

But you don't have much time to be there for them, and they may be in another state or country. What is there to do? Move? Quit your job? Take extended time off? Ignore your grieving loved one? There is a lot of pain and possibly cost in any of these difficult decisions.

Fortunately, Suddenly Single is a book that can help your loved ones stand on their own two feet again. Its sound, practical advice will help you make sure that:

  • Your loved one continues to be included in your extended family
  • You don't overextend yourself in caring for your loved one
  • Your loved one can avoid disasters related to their finances, health, home maintenance, car maintenance, household chores, or social life
  • Your loved one can have confidence to move (if necessary) or date again (if desired), when that time comes

Here's what's in the book

Resources to help all sorts of suddenly single people

Finances & moving

  • Improve bad financial situations
  • Prepare your home for a sudden move or downsizing

Home & car maintenance

  • Keep common household items working well
  • Use common household tools for their intended purposes
  • Perform routine car maintenance
  • Avoid ripoffs at repair shops
  • Keep your lawn looking nice


  • Keep yourself and your home safe in bad weather
  • Avoid getting lost while driving
  • Travel safely alone or visit new places


  • Keep your bathrooms clean
  • Avoid embarrassments with your laundry
  • Prevent surprises from spiders in your bedroom

Personal life

  • Buy better food for yourself
  • Keep your kitchen stocked with food that is safe to eat
  • Keep your mind focused and your body strong
  • Buy the right clothes for yourself
  • Get your spiritual house in order

Social life

  • Get back into your social life after loss
  • Entertain guests in your home without embarrassment

Practical advice for you from experts

The author has maintained her own household for over 40 years. Suddenly Single is also based on interviews with the following people:

  • Two police officers
  • A lawn maintenance and pest control business owner
  • A full-time real estate agent
  • A personal shopper
  • A lawyer
  • A financial representative

Get a free chapter on the first practical things you should do after losing your spouse.

We'll also email you when the book is available.

Book updates and resources

Publish this book

Information about its target market, viability, and author

For publishers

Market size and viability

As a publisher, you see a lot of book ideas and have to determine whether or not they are viable and helpful. You also deal with the increasing difficulty of competing against digital books.

Suddenly Single: A Practical Guide to Maintaining Your Household When Your Spouse is No Longer Available is intended primarily for Baby Boomers who lose their spouse due to sudden death, short- or long-term illnesses, or divorce. There are 18 million people in this target market in the US alone.

It is also written generally enough to help elderly people and younger adults who lose their spouses. And it addresses both very recent loss and situations that occur years after loss.

About the author

The author is a college professor with her Ph.D. in communication and over 40 years of experience running her own household. She is formerly "suddenly single" herself and is currently helping her father cope with losing his spouse of 66 years to a short illness.

Read more about the author or contact her here.

Get the pitch

Contact the author for a 10-page pitch that describes the book's overview, competition, marketing plan, and vision. The book's manuscript is also available.

Bulk discounts

Help grieving families and friends cope in practical ways.

For funeral directors

As a funeral director, you specialize in helping families to mourn and come to terms with loss. You also interact with other specialists from churches, catering businesses, and the government.

But what if a grieving family gives you a question about home maintenance, decorating, or laundry? You might not want to be the one telling them how to shovel snow or unclog the toilet. Yet you might hesitate to send them to yet another store.

Consider a bulk order of Suddenly Single as a resource to grieving families who come to you with these questions. Bulk discounts are available.

For your organization

Suddenly Single is a great resource for your clients when they encounter problems that you don't know how to answer.

This guide could help law firms, pastors, real estate agents to help their grieving clients or church members to navigate practical difficulties. It can keep them from feeling like they need to call you in the middle of the night to fix something in their house.

Suddenly Single is also an ideal title for bookstores and hospital gift shops that might not normally carry books like this one.

Common questions about Suddenly Single

Who is this book for?

Suddenly Single was written for Baby Boomers and others who become unexpectedly unmarried. The Census Bureau states that as of 2013, there were 44.7 million Boomers aged 65+. Of these, 24.7% were widowed and 16.7% were divorced or never married. This equates to more than 18 million people! They usually played specific roles in their families; many of them are clueless about household management. My amusing book beats searching websites to learn how to clean, control finances, or shop for groceries. This is a hold-your-hand guide answering the question: “What do I do now?”

I suggest that it be purchased by people who know people in the predicament of being unexpectedly unmarried, by people who are in the situation themselves, by organizations the cater to the recently bereaved, and by people who are in the process of losing their spouse and who need to plan ahead. Professional organizations, such as real estate companies and law firms, would find this a valuable resource for their clients. Organizations such as divorce and widow groups would also find the information helpful in getting on with the next phase of life.

I just lost my spouse. Who can I contact for more immediate help?

If you are an individual in immediate need of help, I suggest you contact your funeral home professionals for information on funeral arrangements. For help with spiritual needs, I suggest you contact your local pastor. Suddenly Single is a book about moving on to the next phase of your life and is not targeted at someone who has just dropped over dead.

Will this book assume that I want to get married again?

Suddenly Single does not assume your future marital status, but offers suggestions about both remaining single and re-marriage. It offers some practical considerations, no matter which path you choose.

I am terminally ill or have a debilitating, chronic health problem. How can this book help me and my family?

Suddenly Single can help you plan ahead for future illness and your eventual demise through suggestions on financial planning as well as through offering lists of what one needs to know to manage a household in an organized fashion.

By looking over my how-to-do something suggestions, you can teach your spouse how to handle these issues ahead of time. This will be a wonderful help when the time comes that you are unable to do your usual tasks around the house. There are numerous what-I-know-now-that-I-wish-I’d-known-then stories throughout the book who share how the former spouse did not demonstrate tasks ahead of time and left the surviving spouse without the knowledge needed to complete them.

Has this author ever been "suddenly single"? Is she qualified to help me?

The author was unexpectedly unmarried for four years, following the birth of her first child. She was a thousand miles from her closest relative and literally thought one drove with bald tires and only added oil to the car when the engine clicked. Many of the experiences in this book are taken from her life. In addition, the book was written when her mother died and when a very close friend became seriously ill and the men in those women’s lives were uninformed about maintaining their homes.

Is this an ideal book for me to give to my friends or family members who have experienced loss of a spouse?

Suddenly Single would be a wonderful love gift to give someone who has suffered this type of loss. What a thoughtful and practical way to show you care enough to try to help this person!

What is this book's stance on divorce and remarriage?

The book does not judge anyone on either side of this issue. The author believes that the decisions to divorce and remarry are up to the individuals involved and should be determined by their personal circumstances. The purpose of the book is to offer organizational tips that will help anyone who has lost their spouse get on track with regard to maintaining their home and car.

When will the book be released? Can you remind me when it's out?

It is our goal to have Suddenly Single released sometime in the next six months, either by Christmas 2016 or early 2017. We would be happy to email anyone who shares his or her email address when the book is available. In the meantime, be sure to check out our blog at Practical Makes Perfect for tips.

Have a different question?

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About the author

Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D., has personally been in the situation of becoming Suddenly Single. She shares many of her own experiences in the book through humorous tales of driving with bald tires and a clicking engine. These days, she drives with a bald man and clicking joints.

Some of her surprised-to-be-single friends have shared their insights into “what they know now that they wished they’d known then,” discussing things such as avoiding potential future mates that want either “a nurse or a purse,” the importance of signing up for AAA if you don’t know anything about cars, and the most efficient way to get rid of rodents that have taken up residence in your home.

She has used her own 40+ years of experience in keeping a house clean as the basis for her book, but she has also interviewed numerous people who have expertise in their respective fields for additional, professional advice. Her interviews included two police officers (for information on safety issues), a lawn maintenance/pest control man, a full time real estate agent, a personal shopper (for clothing information), a lawyer, and a financial representative.

Dr. Parmelee is an adjunct faculty member at three colleges where she teaches public speaking, interpersonal communication, and business and technical writing. She enjoys running 7 miles a day and loves to read. She is also working on a novel whose working title is Victoria Susan is Not Dead. She resides in Maryland with her husband and younger son.

Get a free chapter on the first practical things you should do after losing your spouse.

We'll also email you when the book is available.