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My friend (age 40) suddenly lost her husband (age 41) on Jan 9th. It was very unexpected and was the result of some unknown medical issues he had.

She began texting a man she knows on Jan 20th. She had wanted to have a relationship with him in the past, before her marriage. He was not ready at the time because of a divorce and she moved on. Within about 6 weeks of her husband's death, she and this man began doing things together with both sets of children. She says this is ok because they were friends in the past and the children knew each other when they were younger. I am concerned about her mental state and that she may be avoiding going through the grieving process by replacing her spouse with this man. Should I be concerned and how can I support my friend? I feel like she is relying too heavily on this one person and I don't want her to end up hurt more deeply in all this. 

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I don’t know how to find articles that I know are hear.  I’m hoping Marty or Kay will have some resources.  Your friend may not want any input and I feel you should be prepared for that.  Losing a spouse is not something anyone can understand unless it happens to them.  I also don’t know the depth of thier relationship.  I do think it is very caring of you to want to reach out, just be sure she is receptive to it.  We have all been at times smothered by attempts to make us 'better' and each journey is unique.  That she has. Found a friend to share time with may be a protective state as shock tends to be the first reaction because we don’t want it to be true.  Does she talk to you about her late husband?  That would be a good indicator to start with.  You say you are concerned about her mental health.  This I do know, her process will be her own.  Tread lightly.  

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4 hours ago, Gwenivere said:

You say you are concerned about her mental health.  This I do know, her process will be her own.  Tread lightly.  

That is why I'm asking how to support her. I don't want to push her away, but at the same time, I don't think immediately getting in touch with someone she had feelings for in the past is the way to go either.

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1 hour ago, jlsmith68 said:

I don't think immediately getting in touch with someone she had feelings for in the past is the way to go either.

Sorry to be blunt, but what you think doesn't apply, here.  You can best push her away by telling her something like this.  On the flip side, you can best support her by remembering she's a grown-up, it's her decision, and it's her life, and if she wants your input, she will ask for it.  If I were in your shoes, I'd keep my thoughts to myself while at the same time, making it clear you are there for her no matter what she chooses.  And just so it's clear, I was in her shoes for a brief few days, about 6 months after Mark passed away.  Thankfully I came to my senses and realized it would be a mistake for me to get involved with someone new.

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21 minutes ago, Kieron said:

Sorry to be blunt, but what you think doesn't apply, here.  You can best push her away by telling her something like this.  On the flip side, you can best support her by remembering she's a grown-up, it's her decision, and it's her life, and if she wants your input, she will ask for it.  If I were in your shoes, I'd keep my thoughts to myself while at the same time, making it clear you are there for her no matter what she chooses.  And just so it's clear, I was in her shoes for a brief few days, about 6 months after Mark passed away.  Thankfully I came to my senses and realized it would be a mistake for me to get involved with someone new.

Unfortunately the man is being the aggressor in this situation and I feel like she is being taken advantage of. She did contact him first, but he has been very aggressive as far as doing things together. 

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And just to clarify, I have not shared any of my thoughts with my friend. You are correct that she's a grown-up but that doesn't mean I'm not concerned about her. I have never been in this situation, so thought that people here could give me some guidance. 

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7 hours ago, Gwenivere said:

I don’t know how to find articles that I know are hear.  I’m hoping Marty or Kay will have some resources.  Your friend may not want any input and I feel you should be prepared for that.  Losing a spouse is not something anyone can understand unless it happens to them.  I also don’t know the depth of thier relationship.  I do think it is very caring of you to want to reach out, just be sure she is receptive to it.  We have all been at times smothered by attempts to make us 'better' and each journey is unique.  That she has. Found a friend to share time with may be a protective state as shock tends to be the first reaction because we don’t want it to be true.  Does she talk to you about her late husband?  That would be a good indicator to start with.  You say you are concerned about her mental health.  This I do know, her process will be her own.  Tread lightly.  

I already answered her extensively on her post in another forum, with articles Marty has here on our site and by sharing my experience with her.
http://www.griefhealing.com/column-helping-another-in-grief.htm
 

I want to share with you what happened to me, perhaps you can print it out and read it to her.  I am not suggesting that the two situations are the same, only pointing out that we do not have clarity of mind in early grief as grief fog (also known as widow's brain or brain fog) is very real.  I am embarrassed to share this but do on occasion when I feel it might be beneficial to someone.

After my husband died, all of our friends disappeared, overnight!  My daughter soon went back to her life and my son was away in the Air Force.  I was alone in my grief, floundering, did not know what to do, how to handle this.  My anxiety was full bore, I remember pacing, wanting to talk to someone, unable to sleep.  Shortly after his funeral someone called saying they were a friend of his and I had to tell him that George had just died (I now realize he was aware of that and it's questionable that they were friends).  He set out to prey on me in my vulnerable state, but I didn't realize that at the time, I only knew I could talk to him.  He was very good at it, he was a con.  We married in a couple of years and he used my credit to the tune of $57,000 and then disappeared...I had to file a missing person's report to find out what happened to him.  He never lived with me, by the way, but during our short marriage, he lived with one woman, and then another.  The first one I forgave him, thinking we just needed to put our lives together, something he'd led me to believe he would.  He didn't.  The police found him living in our new motor home with this young woman, a motor home I got stuck paying for but never got to spend a night in.  I filed for divorce...I wish I'd had it annulled but alas too much time had passed.  I do not consider it a marriage in the least...it was just a con who used and discarded me as cons do.

What I do want to point out is that I had no clarity of brain in my grief-stricken state.  I remember trying to "rebuild my life" (the wrong way).  My own mom was widowed for 32 years and put everything on us kids, we had to be her all, and that was a lot of pressure...I didn't want to do that to my kids.  

It's rather soon for her to introduce someone to her young children.  She needs to get used to living on her own and be okay just being her, that can take a long time.  I speak from experience.  It's been nearly 14 years since my husband died.  I don't date, I'm in charge of my life and take care of my finances, property, etc and have had to learn to be alone.  I wrote this article at about ten years out, the things I've learned over the years, I hope something will be of help to her.  I hope she will come here and post, we want to be there for her.
 

In her state of desperation, she may not listen to you.  I think most of us feel desperate when our spouse dies.  

https://www.refugeingrief.com/2018/04/10/grief-crazy/
It's why they say not to make major decisions the first year.  I would extend that to about three years.  It really does take a long time...
and lastly my article:
 

TIPS TO MAKE YOUR WAY THROUGH GRIEF

There's no way to sum up how to go on in a simple easy answer, but I encourage you to read the other threads here, little by little you will learn how to make your way through this.  I do want to give you some pointers though, of some things I've learned on my journey.

  • Take one day at a time.  The Bible says each day has enough trouble of it's own, I've found that to be true, so don't bite off more than you can chew.  It can be challenging enough just to tackle today.  I tell myself, I only have to get through today.  Then I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.  To think about the "rest of my life" invites anxiety.
  • Don't be afraid, grief may not end but it evolves.  The intensity lessens eventually.
  • Visit your doctor.  Tell them about your loss, any troubles sleeping, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks.  They need to know these things in order to help you through it...this is all part of grief.
  • Suicidal thoughts are common in early grief.  If they're reoccurring, call a suicide hotline.  I felt that way early on, but then realized it wasn't that I wanted to die so much as I didn't want to go through what I'd have to face if I lived.  Back to taking a day at a time.  Suicide Hotline - Call 1-800-273-8255
  • Give yourself permission to smile.  It is not our grief that binds us to them, but our love, and that continues still.
  • Try not to isolate too much.  
  • There's a balance to reach between taking time to process our grief, and avoiding it...it's good to find that balance for yourself.  We can't keep so busy as to avoid our grief, it has a way of haunting us, finding us, and demanding we pay attention to it!  Some people set aside time every day to grieve.  I didn't have to, it searched and found me!
  • Self-care is extremely important, more so than ever.  That person that would have cared for you is gone, now you're it...learn to be your own best friend, your own advocate, practice self-care.  You'll need it more than ever.
  • Recognize that your doctor isn't trained in grief, find a professional grief counselor that is.  We need help finding ourselves through this maze of grief, knowing where to start, etc.  They have not only the knowledge, but the resources.
  • In time, consider a grief support group.  If your friends have not been through it themselves, they may not understand what you're going through, it helps to find someone somewhere who DOES "get it". 
  • Be patient, give yourself time.  There's no hurry or timetable about cleaning out belongings, etc.  They can wait, you can take a year, ten years, or never deal with it.  It's okay, it's what YOU are comfortable with that matters.  
  • Know that what we are comfortable with may change from time to time.  That first couple of years I put his pictures up, took them down, up, down, depending on whether it made me feel better or worse.  Finally, they were up to stay.
  • Consider a pet.  Not everyone is a pet fan, but I've found that my dog helps immensely.  It's someone to love, someone to come home to, someone happy to see me, someone that gives me a purpose...I have to come home and feed him.  Besides, they're known to relieve stress.  Well maybe not in the puppy stage when they're chewing up everything, but there's older ones to adopt if you don't relish that stage.
  • Make yourself get out now and then.  You may not feel interest in anything, things that interested you before seem to feel flat now.  That's normal.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone just a wee bit now and then.  Eating out alone, going to a movie alone or church alone, all of these things are hard to do at first.  You may feel you flunked at it, cried throughout, that's okay, you did it, you tried, and eventually you get a little better at it.  If I waited until I had someone to do things with I'd be stuck at home a lot.
  • Keep coming here.  We've been through it and we're all going through this together.
  • Look for joy in every day.  It will be hard to find at first, but in practicing this, it will change your focus so you can embrace what IS rather than merely focusing on what ISN'T.  It teaches you to live in the present and appreciate fully.  You have lost your big joy in life, and all other small joys may seem insignificant in comparison, but rather than compare what used to be to what is, learn the ability to appreciate each and every small thing that comes your way...a rainbow, a phone call from a friend, unexpected money, a stranger smiling at you, whatever the small joy, embrace it.  It's an art that takes practice and is life changing if you continue it.
  • Eventually consider volunteering.  It helps us when we're outward focused, it's a win/win.

(((hugs))) Praying for you today.

 

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1 hour ago, jlsmith68 said:

Unfortunately the man is being the aggressor in this situation and I feel like she is being taken advantage of. She did contact him first, but he has been very aggressive as far as doing things together. 

@jlsmith68 I agree with you 1000%!  While you can't MAKE your friend do anything, I think a true friend will try to gently warn us.  AFTER I went through my horrid experience, which I'll be paying for the rest of my life, my best friend and her husband told me they felt like warning me...but did not.  They were afraid I wouldn't listen to them.  Whether I would have or not I will never know, I was not afforded that opportunity.  I believe a truly caring friend will at least try.  She is in a very vulnerable situation!  I hear warning RED FLAG  screaming at us here!  Of course, if she will not listen, there is nothing you can do, but I do hope you'll print this out for her and try, it's all you can do.  If she chooses a path that you don't feel is wise, all you can do is continue to love and support her and be there for her if/when the time comes that she needs you to be...and never say "I told you so".  You are a good friend to care so much!

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10 hours ago, jlsmith68 said:

Unfortunately the man is being the aggressor in this situation and I feel like she is being taken advantage of. She did contact him first, but he has been very aggressive as far as doing things together. 

Well that puts a whole new spin on things.  Sorry I was so blunt but that detail wasn't apparent to me.  I hope she is able to extricate herself from his influence.

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It does put a different spin on things.  If she is being manipulated emotionally, financially or any other way that could be harmful, a caring friend would step in.  It’s just so tricky to figure out how beyond prefacing it’s just you caring and not 'meddling'.  Only you know the depth of your friendship.  I do wish you a good outcome if she is in need of it.

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11 days after his death is very soon to be starting up a relationship, old one or not.  And that she has money and he does not is another alarm.  I think this is a very caring friend who has good reason to be alarmed.  I hope she can get through to her friend but she may not be able to in time, we aren't in our right minds in that early grief, I sure wasn't!  Desperate, anxious, I was a mess!  

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I don’t know where else she posted as you said you replied to her once already.  Nothing in this forum about money was said or the smaller time frame.  Until we hear anything more from her, I don’t think there is much more to offer.  I’m a little testy from quitting smoking, but it would be nice if she let us know if any of this helped.  

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On 3/21/2019 at 8:17 AM, kayc said:

I already answered her extensively on her post in another forum

She made follow up comments in the other forum about his not having $ and her having a good amount.  I don't know that she's talked to her friend yet.  We don't always hear back from people and they don't always let us know if something has helped, the nature of the beast (forums) I guess.

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I'm just now reading this and even though the OP may never see this I wanted to chime in with one thought.

So, this friend contacts a guy she was interested in romantically from her past. That in itself is not a big deal. Except... wait for it... her husband just died 11 days before the call! A week and a half and she's ready to "move on" to something "new"?  I find that beyond my comprehension. I understand everyone grieves in their own way, but still.

Hopefully the OP is able to talk to her friend and can help put things in perspective or even suggest she joins Marty's forum.

 

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Yeah, I get wanting to talk to someone but then he started pressuring for more and you have to question his motives, it's not an equal situation, and I always worry about someone trying to take advantage of someone who is vulnerable.

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