When it comes to dating again after the death of a spouse, there is no “right time.” Each person is different. Some people may wait months; some may wait years before entering the dating scene. Others choose to remain single.
Though I have not experienced the grueling pain of losing a spouse, people in my family have. After losing his wife, my grandfather did not seek love again. He could have, but he chose against it. His heart and mind was with grandma, and he couldn’t see himself with someone else. However, when my aunt passed away, my uncle took what he believed was enough time to grieve before dating again. I recall him telling the family that he was not seeking a replacement for my aunt. All he wanted was a companion. The love and memories he’d shared with my aunt were irreplaceable.
Oftentimes, when people decide to date after losing a spouse, they are not searching for replacements. They are, however, searching for companions they can talk to and spend time with. They may not have marriage in mind at the beginning of these friendships, but marriage can certainly occur later if relationships blossom.
Here are four steps toward dating again:
• The grieving process. Everyone’s grieving process is different. Some people become emotionally and physically detached from family and friends. Others express their pain and seek helping hands from those close to them. Accepting the passing of your spouse takes time -- all the time you need. The grieving process helps you accept your loss and start a new chapter in your life.
• Guilt melts away. The truth is, you will feel a sense of guilt in starting over with someone new. You’ll believe you are betraying the love you have for your spouse. But once you take time to reflect on the matter, you’ll learn that starting over does not mean you have stopped loving your spouse. It means you are willing to love again -- a different kind of love. You’ll create different memories with someone else.
• Discuss dating again with your children. Depending on your children’s ages, it’s suggested to discuss with them how you would like to start over. This is a difficult and sensitive topic because you do not want to mislead your children in thinking you are replacing their parent. You’ll just want your children to know you are ready to open your heart and love again.
• Willing and able to love again. Loving someone else after being in love with your spouse is hard to wrap your head around. Can you actually date and, in time, love this person? It is possible. However, the fear of losing yet another partner weighs heavy in your heart. You want to start over, but you’re emotionally intimidated. Maybe you need to speak to a close friend or family member to help you face your fears. Do not let fear block your willingness to love -- and be loved -- again.
(Mayra Bitsko is a freelance writer, the author of A Second Chance and The Past Beckons and holds a master’s degree in business administration-accounting.)