Deserving of New Love
- Journalist Katie Couric, 64, lost her husband to colon cancer and then found love again with a new husband, showing hope for those who have experienced loss that happiness is still possible later in life.
- Couric, who will detail this loss in her new book, Going There, fought sensationalism in the media at the time as she started over and began dating different men. Couric showed that it was okay to date and experience new love while still holding a special place in heart for her lost love.
- Another widower we spoke with, John Duberstein, lost his wife Nina Riggs to metastatic breast cancer. He describes how his wife wanted him to have another relationship after she was gone.
In the news media, there was something of a stigma around Couric as she began to date again with a lot of tabloid coverage of her relationships. She was a woman in the middle of life, a single mother with two children, and now she is happily remarried and fulfilled again, which is one of the topics she covers in her new book, Going There, which will be released in the fall.Read More
“OMG…….drum roll please! Holy Moly I can’t believe this is real — Going There! Writing this thing is the result of three years of labor..and yes it does feel like giving birth!” Couric wrote on her Instagram, as she checked out the cover of her new book for the first time. “PS thank you for your sweet words of encouragement. Love u all!!!”
In the memoir, which covers a lifetime of Couric’s personal and professional stories, she writes about the challenge of finding love again, “with all the hilarity, false-starts, and drama that search entailed, before finding her midlife Mr. Right,” according to the book’s description on Amazon. She will also discuss why her second marriage to financier John Molner, 58, almost didn’t happen, which the book’s description says she has never shared before.
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Couric still honors her first husband, lawyer Jay Monahan, by dedicating most of her life to raising awareness for colorectal cancer. He was just 41 when Monahan was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, and he passed at 42 years old. The couple married in 1989 and had two daughters together: Elinor “Ellie” Tully, now 29, and Caroline, age 25.
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Couric spoke to CureToday.com in 2019 about her tragic loss.
“Our daughters were 6 and 2 at the time, and it’s really hard to describe the kind of heartbreak that ensued after he passed away,” she said. “Our hopes and dreams, what I thought was going to be a long and happy life together, just vanished into thin air after his nine-month battle.”
Tragically, the cancer had spread to his liver, which is why Monahan went so fast. She addressed having to start over and pushing forward.
“I think that it’s hard to describe for people what it’s like unless you’ve been there, and you have to rebuild your life,” she shared. “Thomas Jefferson once said that the earth is for the living and we’re all terminal. So I wanted to try to have a full and happy life, even if it meant doing so without my husband. I had two little girls who were depending on me. I didn’t have the luxury or the time to put the covers over my head and give up. I think people find a way to go on because they have to go on. They have no choice but to go on.”
One of the most heartbreaking elements of Couric’s loss is her regret about overprotecting him about how serious his prognosis was. “I really tried to not fall apart in front of Jay, and looking back on it, there’s probably a lot of dishonesty about the whole thing,” she says. “I think that sort of cockeyed optimism prevented me from ever really saying goodbye.”
The ‘Katie Couric Effect’
That lack of closure has driven her to many years of activism. She has become the face for colorectal cancer awareness. The journalist famously got a colonoscopy on live TV, which triggered the “Katie Couric Effect” of preventative screenings going up.
She also co-founded Stand Up 2 Cancer, one of the top cancer organizations that does incredible work raising money for cancer research while constantly promoting awareness. They have raised well over $500 million, with their first 2008 telecast raising over $100 million alone.
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When Couric honored the late Monahan on what would have been their 30th wedding anniversary, she expressed an important sentiment: that it’s okay to love two men.
“Dear Jay…It’s June 10th 2019 and today would have been our 30th anniversary,” she wrote. “I hope you would be proud of the way I’ve lived my life and know you’d be proud of your girls who have grown into incredible young women. I think you would like @johnmolner who honors your memory and knows there is room in my heart for you both.”
Many people feel guilt when moving on, but it’s okay to still honor your lost love and share feelings about them, even with your current partner. That’s also why it’s important to move on with the right person, who understands those feelings, and that they’re not replacing someone or replacing the love that was shared. It is simply a new chapter.
It took a little persistence on Katie’s part to land her new man, which is a reminder that sometimes you just have to be bold and go for it.
“In 2012 I was single again and I asked a friend of mine, Molly, whose husband is a trauma surgeon, if her husband knew any other doctors because I thought I’d like to go out with a doctor,” Couric explained to PEOPLE’s former Editor-in-Chief on an episode of The Jess Cagle Interview. “And so she thought about it and she said, ‘We don’t really know a doctor, but we do know this banker named John Molner.’ And I said, ‘Does he have a pulse?’”
Molner never called her, so she reached out to her friend once again, and “finally, after much badgering,” he contacted her. “He finally asked me out, we met at a restaurant and what can I say?” Couric recalls. “He had me at hello.” They married at her home in the Hamptons in 2014.
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It apparently took a few “failed relationships” for Couric to find “the one” again, so patience can also be key. And if something doesn’t feel right, move on.
When Couric started dressing a bit more sexy, and appearing to be more “single” after her loss, she faced a lot of sensationalism in the media at the time. Tabloids relentlessly covered her relationships, and picked her apart. To be sexy midlife after being married was shunned. We have come a long way from that time, but it was a tough time for Couric, who was this face of America, and girl-next-door. Some fans could not relate to her anymore.
Couric dated Boston Red Sox owner Tom Werner for roughly four years. In 2004, she dated musician Chris Botti for about year. After Botti, Couric was in a relationship with businessman Brooks Perlin—who was 17 years younger than her—for five years.
In 2012, Couric graced the cover of More magazine and talked about dating life.
“I have had dates where we didn’t click,” Couric said. “I once went out with a heart-transplant surgeon who talked about valves the whole night. But I appreciate that it’s not easy to go out on a date with someone like me.””
She addressed her age, and what comes with it. “Also, when you get to my age, everyone is a bit wounded. So I think it’s important to handle people with care — not to think, ‘Oh, what a terrible date,’ but just, ‘This person isn’t for me.'” Everyone has a lot of baggage. It’s just can you fit it into the overhead bin?”
She always thought she would find another divorcee or widower to marry.
“I really did love my husband a lot, but after Jay died, I always thought I’d end up like Florence Henderson on The Brady Brunch,” she admitted. “It’s actually surprising to me that it has been almost 15 years and I haven’t remarried. I think life is more fun when you have someone in your life,” she said. “I always wanted a father figure for my daughters, but it hasn’t worked out that way. I’ve had long-term relationships, but they haven’t turned into life-long partners.”
Surviving the Loss of a Partner
Fighting your own cancer battle is one of the toughest experiences in life; watching the disease take someone you love is a different kind of pain.
In some cases, a spouse with cancer can take proactive steps to talk about what might come after.
“She wanted to make sure that I knew that it was OK … she really wanted me to have another relationship after she was gone,” one widower tells SurvivorNet.
John Duberstein lost his wife, writer Nina Riggs, to metastatic triple negative breast cancer. He says that while he was watching her suffer from the disease, he couldn’t help but wish things could go back to normal … but Nina had already embraced her new normal.
“I really wanted things to go back to normal, whatever that meant,” John tells SurvivorNet. “She was not for that. She wanted to embrace the existence that she had, even before she knew she was going to die imminently. I did not want to talk about what was going to happen with me after Nina died. Nina is the one that really brought it up, she brought it up a number of times.”
John says that even with the pain of losing Nina, and even though he didn’t want to talk about it at the time, he’s so glad that his wife started those seemingly uncomfortable conversations. “In retrospect, I can’t even explain how glad I am that I had that.”
This is a reminder that having those uncomfortable and painful conversations with your partner can be fundamental to your well-being as you move forward in the grieving process, alleviating the guilt felt in starting to date again, and/or eventually marry.