These powerful first-person stories explore the many reasons and ways we experience grief and navigate a new normal. After 15 years of marriage I lost my wife, Leslie, to cancer. For nearly 20 years, I only loved one woman: my wife, the mother of my children. Still, quite apart from missing the woman I loved, I miss having a partner.
I miss the intimacy of a relationship. One day maybe you raged, then the next you accepted your loss. The group leader considered grief to be more of a spiral, winding ever closer to acceptance, but also taking trips through blame, negotiation, anger, and disbelief along the way. My grief seemed like waves radiating out from a droplet of water in a larger pool. Over time, the waves would be smaller and further apart, then a new droplet would fall and start the process all over again — a draining faucet trickling empty.
After some time, the droplets are less frequent, but I can never seem to quite fix the leak. You just adapt to it. Never find another partner and confidante? Are you being too somber on Facebook? Do you seem too happy? Whether people are actually constantly judging or not, it feels like it to people who are mourning.
About a year after her death, I felt ready to start looking for another partner. You might be ready two years later, or two months. I was interested in sharing my life, my love, and my family. The droplets of grief were falling less frequently. The waves of emotion that radiated out How do you date after being widowed? more manageable. Whether others judged it How do you date after being widowed? or not, I felt I was ready to date.
I also believed I owed it to my potential dates to be as honest with myself as possible. I felt guilty almost immediately. I planned elaborate dates to fun venues. I was going out to new restaurants, watching movies outside in the park at night, and attending charity events. I regretted not pushing for those sorts of date nights. Too many times I left it to Leslie to plan. It was so easy to get caught up in the idea that there would always be time for date nights later.
We never really considered the idea that our time was limited.
We never made it a point to find a sitter so we could take time for us. There was always tomorrow, or later, or after the kids were older.
And then it was too late. But we were married for 15 years. All I can do is recognize that it happened and learn from it. Leslie left behind a better man than the one she married. That was just a side effect of her caring, nurturing nature. The longer I date, the less guilty I feel — the more natural it seems.
I accept that I could have done things differently, and apply myself to the future. Being ready to date and being ready to bring your date back to your house are How do you date after being widowed?
13 Things to Know Before Dating a Widow » GoDates
very different things. While I was ready to put myself back out there, my house remained a shrine to Leslie. Every room is filled with our family and wedding pictures. The guilty feelings of dating are nothing compared to the guilt of trying to figure out what to do with a 20 by 20 wedding photograph over your bed. I still wear my wedding ring.
Having children simplifies the problem of how to handle How do you date after being widowed?. Leslie will never stop being their mother despite her passing. Though wedding pictures might get stored away, the family pictures are reminders of their mother and her love for them and need to stay up.
She was and is an important part of my life and the lives of my children. Her memory will always be with us. So we talk about it. Still, I probably should clean and organize that nightstand one of these days. There are other things to think about — other milestones to address: Meeting the kids, meeting the parents, all of those potential wonderful terrifying moments of new relationships.
But it starts with moving forward. Those words brought me pain then, instead of the comfort I find in them now. Want to read more stories from people navigating a new normal as they encounter unexpected, life-changing, and sometimes taboo moments of grief? Check out the full series.