British Columbia

'I often feel like I'm a mess': Widower of hit NYT essay author speaks at TED conference

The widow of the author who wrote a viral New York Times essay elicited tears from the crowd as he shared his story at the TED conference Friday evening.

Jason B. Rosenthal, subject of You Might Want to Marry my Husband essay, spoke Friday night

Rosenthal's late wife, Amy Krause Rosenthal, wrote the essay You Might Want to Marry my Husband. He said it was read more than five million times. (Ryan Lash/TED)

The widower of the author who wrote a viral New York Times essay elicited tears from the crowd as he shared his story at the TED conference Friday evening. 

"Just a little over a year into my new life, I've learned a few things," Jason B. Rosenthal told the TED crowd, with tears in his eyes. 

Rosenthal's late wife, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, wrote the essay You May Want to Marry My Husband. He said it was read more than five million times.  

In it, Amy Rosenthal writes that she's dying and creates a dating profile of her husband — brimming with all his good qualities — because she doesn't want him to be alone after her death.

"He's an easy man to fall in love with," she wrote. "I did it in one day."

She died last March, 10 days after the piece was published

It was the first time Rosenthal has spoken about the essay since his wife's death. He told CBC News that doing the talk gave him the opportunity to tell his own story about what happened.

"I felt that being able to craft the story that I wanted to tell versus being interviewed about it was special," he said, adding that his late wife was a big part of the TED community. 

"I was always told that this environment was welcoming and warm."

He said he wanted other people going through similar experiences to know they're not alone.

Haunting memories

Rosenthal began his talk by describing his late wife and the life they shared with their three children.

He said Amy was a prolific writer and a terrific public speaker with whom he shared a love of music and documentary films. 

He then talked about the excruciating, months-long process they went through as her ovarian cancer progressed until she died in their home. She lived for two months without eating solid food, he said, and lost half her body weight. 

"To this date I have memories of those final days that haunt me," he said.  

Some in the audience wiped away tears as he spoke.

During that time, Rosenthal said, they talked about subjects like death and how he should parent their children in her absence. He urged the crowd to have those same conversations with their loved ones, while healthy.

His 20-year-old daughter, Paris, was in the audience.

'I often feel like I'm a mess'

Amy died March 13, 2017, in their bed. 

"I carried her lifeless body down our stairs, through our dining room and our living room to a waiting gurney to have her body cremated," he said, choking up. 

"I will never get that image out of my head."

Rosenthal said his wife's essay caused him to grieve publicly. It elicited reaction from readers, including words of support — and a few marriage proposals. 

Three months after her death, Rosenthal's father died of complications from Parkinson's disease. He said it prompted him to question how people make their way through grief. 

"I really am sad a lot of the time. I often feel like I'm a mess," he said.

Over the course of the past year, Rosenthal said, he has tried to find beauty in life.

He said he has found joy in sharing moments with his three children, and in music. 

About the Author

Maryse Zeidler

@MaryseZeidler

Maryse Zeidler is a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at maryse.zeidler@cbc.ca.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.