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Dating After the Loss of a Spouse


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Sharing: Karyn Arnold over at Grief In Common posted this helpful article today:

Dating After the Loss of a Spouse

If there is one issue that can create division, and even anger, in a room full of widows and widowers, it’s the topic of dating after the loss of a spouse. Of all the subjects in all the groups that I’ve ever facilitated, this may be the most controversial.

For some, just the mention of dating again can cause such a negative and visceral reaction -I’ve seen grievers walk out of presentations where this topic was only one small part of the conversation.

But why the strong reaction? Does it a feel like a sense of betrayal to the deceased? Or of being rushed into something we’re not ready for? Is just the thought of having to start over, to put ourselves out there just too overwhelming or too exhausting? Is it that the endeavor seems worthless as there will simply never EVER be someone as perfect for us as the partner we lost?

And is it fair that a griever has to cope with this tremendous grief while also answering questions from family and friends about whether they plan to date again? Or is it fair that a griever may face judgement from those who think that they aren’t ready to date or believe they shouldn’t? Read on here >>>

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For myself, it seems to be a bit of a conundrum; I maintain a sense of devotion and commitment to Deedo and yet I miss human contact.  This forum is wonderful but it does not meet my need to have face to face interaction.  As with many things I play mind games.  I have a friend in the Valley.  We go out for dinners together, we attend concerts and musicals together, we hike together; we are not dating.  We are doing many of those things dating couples do but we are not dating.  She is still married even though her husband left her in all ways but body over the past several years.  He has Lewy Body disease and is in the final stages where he rarely knows she is there.  In my mind, I am still married to Deedo.  I still wear my wedding ring with hers on the pinky finger next to it.  For me, it isn't as much a sense of betrayal.  In Deedo's final letter to me, she wrote that she wanted me to grieve for a short amount of time but that she wanted me to find companionship.  It is companionship I now find myself longing for.   I am not looking for romance.  I have no desire to marry again.  I simply want someone to have a meal with; someone to share travel with, someone to go to a movie with.

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When I was involved in a loss of spouse group a while ago, I left it because at the last meeting I attended, one of the wives said she was already out looking for someone; that she spent time at bars and wanted to find someone.  I left the group because i didn't want to stand in judgement.  I personally felt that was wrong...how could she be crying and grieving and mourning her husband and looking for a replacement so soon afterwards.  I don't have anyone pushing me or asking me if I was dating again.  It would be none of their business if I were.  I tried getting onto a dating site; even created a profile (though not completely).  But before the hour was up, I went in and deleted it.  I wasn't ready.  I may NEVER be ready.  It would not be fair to get involved and have someone give me their heart, when my heart STILL belongs to Mark.  As I have confessed to those who are close to me, I am still very much in love with my husband.  I think dating would really confuse me, and I would probably talk too much about Mark.  I was alone and on my own for over 4 years before I met Mark.  I went out and met men, but it never worked out.  I really enjoy my solitude, especially now that I am beginning to work on a writing career.  It has only been 27 months since Mark died.  To some that sounds like a long time, but it's not.  I am just gaining my independence now that I can drive myself where I need to be, and have more grieving to do.  I have been spending part of almost each day with Mark's mom since he died and haven't really had time on my own away from here to grieve.  I know that sounds weird.  She has always been there in the background, so I haven't really been on my own two feet alone to grieve.  I have noticed a lot of anger coming out when I am frustrated, anger like I have never had in my life before.  Working through all these relationships and feelings, it would not be possible to look for someone to share my life with.

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Dating and being in this acute grief does not mix for me.  I've been asked a couple times and my reaction said it....are you frigging kidding me?  So that answers that.  I'm pretty sure that is not in my future at all.  I have to admit I have been judgemental of people doing that within a couple years, but that us my problem, not theirs.  Just because it  doesn't compute for me doesn't make it wrong.  Where I do get confused, as Maryann said, is talking about the acute pain, yet doing the dating ritual which means being upbeat and into that kind if socializing.  Missing companionship I do understand deeply.  Maybe it cause I am older, been thru it and had found that someone, I don't know.  It took decades to find my perfect relationship.  I don't have that kind of time anymore.  Plus, I'm already in love.  Deeply.  

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I have had several men ask me out on dates over the last year. I always politely decline.  For me, I know in my heart that no one can come close to Daniel.  It would not be fair to those men to not be able to give my heart to them and it is not fair to myself to settle.  I do hope to find someone who would like to go out and do things with me in a non-romantic way similar to what Brad describes.  I think that would be nice.

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 for more than a year I have been behaving in a way of trying to protect my broken and vulnerable heart to be broken or hurt. I avoid situations when this could happen, for example, I decline wedding invitations. I don't date also for that reason. I will not risk my heart in the state it currently is. I cannot stand another trial. I have enough with what I have.  And of course I am still in love and my standard remains pretty high. This was his mistake. I had the best to me. 

 

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We actually talked about this in my therapy session today. My therapist said that we as humans desire to be loved and have companionship, which is true. He also stated that maybe I will have that again and I shut him down quickly. I know I'm still young but my heart will always belong to my fiance. I can't ever imagine being with anyone else the thought makes me cringe. Yes, I know it's still very early but when my mind is made up its made up. And yes it's very lonely and empty without love and companionship but since I can't have what my heart truly desires than I'm content with being by myself. But in no way do I judge others for moving on. To each it's own.

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I am no where close to dating again.  It is far too early in my journey to even really consider it.  Even though I am not three full months into my journey, people have asked and suggested though, so I have had to think about it.  If I did date again, I would have to be able to do two things I am currently incapable of doing.  I would have to be able to consistently consider another persons feelings, emotions, and situation beyond and in some cases before my own.  I would also have to accept another persons care and support in a way that did not involve my wife.

My current emotional state is beyond chaotic.  I can't even put my own emotional well being before the thoughts of what I should or should not be feeling about my wife and my loss.  Though I know it isn't true, I often feel as though I deserve to be miserable and hopeless.  If that is my own self image, what chance do I have of offering another person a positive view of their own self worth?  If I did develop feelings for another person, would I want to put them not only in the position of having to help me through my emotional instability, but also having me be unable to be there for them if they experience moments where they need emotional support?

If we did manage to make it past those emotional hurdles, would I honestly be able to separate that persons emotional contributions to my life from those of Christine?  I see and seek signs everywhere of her continued involvement in my life.  Would I be able to differentiate what Christine has and in many ways continues to do to improve my life from a new persons contributions?  Would it be fair to take another persons compassion and care but be unable to acknowledge it as such?

To put another person in the position of having to deal with my emotional trauma, yet be incapable of acknowledging their contribution is the opposite of what I know a loving relationship to be.  A true relationship is two people supporting and benefiting from the mutual support, and I currently would be of little or no value in that respect.  I still have a long journey with time to heal and change.  I may at some point be able to offer something to another, and accept what they offer to me.  That is still a long way off, and anyone who tries to rush me in to that just to fill a void, doesn't truly understand what love is to me.  They also don't understand the void they perceive, which can only be filled by me better understanding how full that hole is with the love that I am slowly rediscovering after my loss.

I can see why many people have issue with the subject.  Having known true love, I am somewhat insulted by the idea that it can be "replaced" by dinner and a movie.  Other people want to see us happy, and assume that involves doing what we have done before.  In their eyes, we had a relationship, so we obviously need another.  Happiness won't come from replacing the loss, not that we could if we tried.  Happiness may come for me from accepting that I haven't really lost anything, simply that what I had has changed form.  When and if I get to that point of acceptance, I may look for something else.  Until then I am very happy knowing that I know love more deeply than many of those who suggest that is what I need to "fix" my situation.

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I never thought that I would or could date again. I met a guy at the support group I was going to. We have a lot in common. We like the same things. We both have lost the loves of our lives. When people would ask if we were dating, I would tell them that I didn't know what to call it. I was afraid of what my kids would think. Would they be upset? There were so many emotions involved. A couple of months ago when we started to get close, I told him that I didn't know if I was ready for a relationship. I didn't know if he was either. We took things slow. We did enjoy talking with each other and  having someone that understood exactly what we are going through. We talk a lot about lost loved ones. And it is ok. We will never stop talking about them. Do we still love them? of course we do but they are no longer here. We have to continue to live this life. Is it hard and weird? Yes, it is but I know Richard would want me to be happy.

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I have dated and will date. The first person I dated, it was too soon for me..but it helped me through a dark time and we are very good friends now. I am going to counseling, mostly to heal wounds in me, not just the loss of Kev...but the things I have gone through in life. I want to become stronger emotionally to avoid the mistakes in the past and to live life as fully and richly as I can as a healthier human being.

I read the article, I thought it was good. I am thinking, what is a relationship ? What am I looking for?

I miss intimacy and companionship. I want to share the little things in life again with someone. Kev and I were in a good place in our marriage. We had forgiven each other and had grown from past mistakes, made some better choices,etc.

Spending the rest of my years with Kev is no longer an option. That fateful day in June changes everything.

He was and always will be the love of my youth. The father of my children. We grew up together, and made it for a 28.5 year journey of marriage..through the good and bad....

Dating again after 30 years, has been interesting to say the least. I am still learning how to do this in the modern world, lol.

I am taking it slow. I want to build a good foundation of friendship and companionship...I also wonder, as I get used to my independent living, do I have what it takes to be with someone else? We are not going to be younger, lol...

I don't know the answers...but eating alone, vacationing alone and not having that human touch ...are things that motivate me to date again...most likely I will be in another long term relationship....not sure about marriage this go around...my needs are different  and I may want to keep some of my newfound independance...Time will tell.

Good luck to us all on this journey, whatever our choices...

Marie

 

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Jo and I would talk about this. She would say things to me like "When I go, you'll find someone else won't you? I want you to find someone else and be happy". And I would reply "Don't be silly, of course not". But the last conversation of this nature, just before the final bout of illness which killed her, I replied: "Maybe, you never know". And she seemed so happy by my answer.

So I guess that's basically my attitude now. The thought of being with somebody else, even after nearly ten months, just seems unpleasant and 'wrong'. But on the other hand I'm 46 years old, I never know who I may meet tomorrow and I don't totally discount the possibility of finding someone else. But they're going to have to measure up to Jo, and at the moment I'll be constantly making unfair comparisons, to the point where it'll be totally unfair on the lady. I don't like the idea of dating sites and agencies but maybe one day. I can't see myself actively 'looking' for quite some time. And I'm not totally sure I ever will. But I'm not going to turn a 'blind eye' either if you know what I mean.There is the slight possibility that one day someone may come into my life with whom I share a lot in common with and whom I find attractive. I doubt it, but there is the very slight possibility. Certainly not now, but maybe one day.

I do think that some people [and I've been guilty of it too] are too quick to judge others. If someone finds somebody else quickly after the death of their spouse/partner, then it's not as if they'll suddenly stop thinking about their former love who would have wanted them to be happy. I'm not like that, but 'fair play' to them all the same. And we are all different after all.

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As much as we don't want to be judged, we need to be careful not to judge someone else for responding differently than we do...we all make our way through this grief in our own way.  I've never been one to go to bars so that would never be my cup of tea, but I can't judge someone else for trying to find comfort where they may.  I don't trust anymore, I have good reason for it, and for me, I prefer not to go looking for someone.  If God wanted me to have someone, He knows my address. :)  That's just me.  I don't trust internet dating either but can't fault someone else for trying it.  Just not me.

I figure I've had the best, and it'd be a pretty tall order to fill if someone wanted to come in behind him, just think the likelihood of that happening is akin to winning the lottery I never play.

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On 3/22/2017 at 9:46 AM, MartyT said:

If there is one issue that can create division, and even anger, in a room full of widows and widowers, it’s the topic of dating after the loss of a spouse. Of all the subjects in all the groups that I’ve ever facilitated, this may be the most controversial.

Well, that certainly was the truth.

To me it is strictly up to the individual.  Now, my friend, when she died and I called right after the funeral (day after) to offer my condolences the man's mother said the husband (her son) was on his honeymoon.  He was lonesome.  Now to me, in my opinion, I think that was a tiny bit soon.  But, it did not hurt my friend's feelings, she did not care. 

Supposedly Billy would not care.  I want to believe he is in a place he would not care, but I am only allowed one Xanax a night and I don't think they will give me more.  In real life, Billy would not have wanted me to find someone else after he left.  Yes, I am 100% positive of it.

Besides, I am gonna be 75-years-old in August.  What in this world would I want with another man.  If I wanted a companion, I would get a dog, but that might be cruel also for the dog.  Nah, I am not good company, it would run away and I would probably be glad. 

Now, that is just my opinion for myself.  I don't believe in ghosts, but I don't not believe in them either.

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There was a man in our church that had outlived two wives...he started seeing an 82 year old lady in our church and was kind of moving fast (this was right after his wife died) and she said she wanted to slow it down and he said, "At my age I don't have TIME to slow it down!"  They got married, she was 82, him a little older.  They were so happy together!  It lasted several years until she too died.  Now he's 93 and so forlorn and lonely.  He knows he's done, marriage is a thing of the past, he's grieving, perhaps for them all.  We all kind of wondered at this hastened marriage, but looking back now, we're so glad they had the time they did together.  It's the only time Beth was truly loved by a man, she'd been married once before but not treated right.  And I'm glad they didn't have to face old age alone.  At least he has his kids and his church family looking in on him. 

I don't think it's something we should judge, even if we might wonder if it's being rushed a bit.  If they make a mistake, it's their's to make.

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People are going to do what they want to do regardless of the opinions (judgments) of others.  

Billy's brother was probably one of my favorite characters.  He liked older women.  First wife seven years older.  Woman he lived with 25 years I don't think was older. She would not marry because she would lose dead husband's pension. During all this time there were other women.  Borrowed our car once to take Pansy out.  Joined the church and they were very busy in their church work.  He even dated the preacher's wife.  Sickness, unmarried wife wanted to pull the plug, Billy stepped in.  BIL went to nursing home because he had ICU syndrome, unmarried wife died.  He was elected king of Valentine's at nursing home.  We got him out, he lived with us about two weeks.  It was too confining.  He had beginnings of Parkinson's disease, he had been a welder for years.  He rode with me bringing his things to Arkansas. Billy drove the truck behind us.   We found a seniors living place for him and he was happy. I wanted him to stay with us. He was "the man" among all those old women.  When he was feeling low for running around on Mary (they were not married), I told him there would be another woman for him.  He perked up and said "Do you really think so?"  Must have been 70 then.  Little 72-73 year old woman, adorable, he took a liking to.  All the little women were after him.  She would get so jealous.  She had the beginnings of Alzheimer's.  They had two years together (we would see them at the grocery store holding hands).  They lived in downtown Hot Springs, and he would take her to all the little restaurants close by.  He reminded me that I had told him he would find another woman.  He died quite suddenly at the same hospital Billy left me in.  He said those two years with this wife were the happiest in his life.  He was a character.  I would not wish any years of loneliness to anyone that might want companionship.  Some want companionship.  Some know being alone is never really being alone.  And, if you want to stay alone, that is your business.  If you want companionship, like my BIL wanted it, then make your own lemonade, it's your life.  And, if you want it, in your own time, then you don't give one tinker's damn what other people think.  More power to you.  (I am going to google that, I don't know what it really means.) 

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“ ’Tis true they are not worth a ‘tinker’s damn’ ”   (1839, from Henry David Thoreau’s journal);

I loved it.  Being from the south, we have so many expressions that others do not have, or maybe even understand.  We are taught in school never to say the word "aint" and yet we use it as much as "bless his/her heart."  My language was even laughed at by Billy.  If I was thirsty, it always came out as Thursday.  Ants were always "aints."  

Last night I used a word that my granddaughter (bless her heart) came unglued with and she honestly fussed at me.  She is a quiet little thing.  I am glad I don't have a cooking show because I would have to make a tearful confession to using a term that was commonplace with my growing up.  My laundry basket wheels are shot, Scott tried to fix them.  I said "never mind, I will "the N word" rig them.  It just automatically came out of my mouth.  I have been properly chastised and won't say it again.  It is not something I say all the time anyhow.  I wouldn't dare.  

Gosh it is hard to be so politically correct all the time. 

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One can NEVER truly know what is around the next corner...I never expected to find my husband in a Yahoo chat room 11 years ago.  When I gave it a try and went through the process of creating a profile, and it spit out some pictures of men...I suddenly felt really guilty and then I knew that I was still so very much in love with Mark and it wouldn't be fair to me or anyone else to try.  I need to learn to comfortable with myself and my loss before I try and include that in a relationship.

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OK well.  As some know, this is the reason it has been difficult to post here, yet I miss it so.  I never intended to "date" again, let alone find myself in a relationship a year after my beloved Ron died - the shock, the sudden loss just 55 days long, the fact that we loved spending every minute of every day together at Maui Pasta.  Even if I had a thought that maybe in 10 years I would find companionship for the "alone", I would admonish myself for such a thought.

But when Steve and I found ourselves falling in love, it seemed impossible, but it seemed also that Ron and Kathy had brought us together.  It is the four of us now.  It was like an escalator -- we were standing completely still and yet we were moving towards each other by a force beyond us.There is not a conversation that goes by where they are not mentioned, remembered, loved.  Our tears flow... mine a bit more since it is so raw. 

But, how do I face the world with such a thing, to my family, my staff, my customers, all those who have lived through my utter devastation by my side?  Barely a year? Really?  I am still working on this.  As has been said in this thread, how can you be in such complete ruin and loss, and love, too?  Smile, laugh, too.  I don't know and yet here it is.

It brings me to tears as I write this -- I think what I fear most deeply is for anyone to doubt -- for one iota of a second -- my love, devotion, devastation to and about Ron is not True, deep and endless.  That every word here I have written about Ron and my pain is real and ongoing and that I miss and long for him every hour of every day.  That I am still deeply grieving.  That I am depressed, angry and full of anxiety from the grief and trying to live on without him by my side -- and not just the business.  Especially not just the business.

This, for me, is a lesson in duality. Holding two opposites at the same time.  Steve is on a plane coming to Maui for a few days right now. Tonight, we will sit and watch sunset at the beach where Ron is - his eternal reef and where we held his service - and then we will go to dinner at a restaurant on the same beach and celebrate Kathy's birthday.

 

 

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Patty,

Love cannot be explained or justified, nor should it have to be. It is simply felt deep in your heart and soul.

Although I have only met you and Steve one time each, you are both beautiful people. My best to you as you celebrate those lives you have loved and lost and the new life that is beginning for you. Life is what you make it.

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What you and Steve have found together is beyond beautiful, Patty, and no two people deserve it more than you do. Love like this is to be celebrated. No explanations are necessary. None are expected. Please don't let this be a reason that keeps you away from us, if and when you feel the need for our understanding and support.

Our hearts are filled with joy for both of you, and I believe that Ron and Kathy are right there celebrating with you. They are the ones who showed you two what true love is, and to know it when you've found it.

We're all sending love and blessings to both of you. 

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Patty you needed help, emotionally and in business too.  What you have is your's and Steve's business and no one else's.  I personally am glad he is there to help you through this business, with your business.  I think he probably has the experience and no one is going to walk all over you because you are a woman.  We have come a long way baby, but we women can still be "used" as the "weaker sex."  Sometimes it is hard to stand up to by ourselves.  Wish you  both nothing but happiness.

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5 hours ago, Patty65 said:

... As has been said in this thread, how can you be in such complete ruin and loss, and love, too?  Smile, laugh, too.  I don't know and yet here it is.

It brings me to tears as I write this -- I think what I fear most deeply is for anyone to doubt -- for one iota of a second -- my love, devotion, devastation to and about Ron is not True, deep and endless.  That every word here I have written about Ron and my pain is real and ongoing and that I miss and long for him every hour of every day.  That I am still deeply grieving.  That I am depressed, angry and full of anxiety from the grief and trying to live on without him by my side -- and not just the business.  Especially not just the business.

This, for me, is a lesson in duality. Holding two opposites at the same time.  Steve is on a plane coming to Maui for a few days right now. Tonight, we will sit and watch sunset at the beach where Ron is - his eternal reef and where we held his service - and then we will go to dinner at a restaurant on the same beach and celebrate Kathy's birthday.

 

 

I am experiencing the same DUALITY... How can I experience such joy and passion and yet Grief simultaneously. It is mind bending yet it is a reality. My Joy and excitement at the possibility of flying has not replaced my Grief but rather they co-exist.  Please do not let mankind or yourself place self- imposed rules on how you show think, feel or do.  We each traverse this journey uniquely yet we still all experience deep grief from deep loss.

You are blessed to have someone come along side who understands, supports and helps you.  They all sound like good things.  Just live in each day, each moment, and don't let others try to dictate to you how you should live.  Enjoy the time. Please come in visit us here when you are able.  We all care for you as you do for us.:wub:  Shalom, George

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