Loss and Love
Transcending the Loss of a Spouse to New Love
Published July 10, 2007
The unimaginable has happened; you are a widow or widower. Mourning your loss has been the focus of your life for the past year or two. Finally, as you begin to surface from your profound grief, with a deep breath and a lot or a little trepidation, you find yourself falling in love again. Is this new relationship fraught with landmines? You bet! Here are important stepping-stones to help you to stay afloat along the way. Discover some dos and don’ts for widows/widowers beginning a new, loving relationship.
Perhaps you joined a bereavement support group, progressed through the stages of loss and are doing pretty well. And then, surprise … you find yourself attracted to someone of the opposite sex. Not just someone to hear your grief, but someone who makes your heart quicken. What do you do? What feels right? You are still grieving, but you’re attracted and you want to date. You’re also lonely and crave company. And yet, you feel guilty, disloyal to your late spouse.
- Do take your time starting a new relationship; it’s not unusual to feel like an awkward teenager again.
- Don’t rush into romance; start with friendship.
How do you let your grown kids know that you want to date? How can you help them to react in a positive way? You don’t want to hurt them while they grieve their mother or father, but you also want to go on with your own life. How do you talk to them about your needs while being respectful of theirs? You know that they grieve on a different timetable.
- Do be sensitive to the feelings of your children; encourage them to “speak their truth” while you move on with your life in a positive way.
- Don’t flaunt your dating or sexuality in front of your children.
You meet someone you can see having a future with. She/he has furniture; you have furniture. How do you blend that? What do you do with family pictures?
- Do be respectful in valuing the treasures of your partner.
- Don’t discard family pictures; find a way to blend what is important to both of you.
How do you financially protect your new partner and yourself? Do you do a prenuptial agreement? What is fair? You want to leave money for your children and you also want to protect her/him. How do you do that? It may feel distasteful to seek the counsel of an attorney, but you feel you should do that. You have a townhouse; she has a townhouse. Which townhouse will you live in? What do you do with your extra “stuff”? How much do you give away?
- Do talk about your personal values, what is fair and what is important to you.
- Don’t rush into legal agreements, until you have explored your feelings together.
- Do listen to your partner, even if his/her ideas are different than yours.
All of these questions are common and very real. You might be asking yourself: Do we like each other enough to resolve these questions? Can we come out of our own chaos and have a mutual life?
- Do realize that you have two “containers” in your chest, one for your old life and one for the new. You’re adding, not subtracting. It is a tribute to your late spouse that you want another loving partner.
- Don’t compare your new love to your late spouse.
- Do accept that your new partner has different interests that will enable you to explore new areas of growth.
- Do accept that it can be an interesting and rewarding challenge to meet your new partner’s friends and children. It may take patience until they learn that you are not trying to replace your partner’s late spouse in their eyes.
A new partner and a shared life are indeed positive challenges. Many widows/widowers take on the growth and welcome new love, wanting to heal and move forward to a renewed life with joy, expectation, and eagerness.
If there is a topic that you would like to see featured in a future “Connection” article, please contact Celine Todd at email@example.com.
THE HEALING POWER OF GRIEF: The Journey Through Loss to Life and Laughter, (ISBN 1-932783-48-2)
THE HEALING POWER OF LOVE: Transcending the Loss of a Spouse to New Love, (ISBN 1-932783-51-2) http://www.championpress.com/grief/healingpoweroflove.htm
by Gloria Lintermans & Marilyn Stolzman, Ph.D., L.M.F.T., Champion Press, 2006
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