The “one year” rule has been a sort of unspoken rule amongst widow(er)s. You cannot put a timeline on love, loss, and your ability to move forward, but it seems for those who broke the one year standard rule of waiting to date after losing a spouse, they were shamed.
I have met a few widow(er)s who dated and entered serious relationships before the one year, and I was one of those who judged. It is not so much about the moving forward part, as it is that we know how much a journey of grief entails-and that first year is a rollercoaster.
I began dating within the first year, but quickly ended things when I realized I just was not ready. I was too judgemental, too critical, and my heart too bruised to accept another person’s appreciation of myself. I felt like I was cheating. I am now nearing the 1.5 year mark, and it feels completely different.
Testing the waters again, I find my mind is at much better place now than 8 months ago. I am at the part of grief where I can imagine Kevin wanting me to be happy, where I can dream again for a future all my own, and I can even consider a life with someone else.
Besides the emotional connections we miss with our spouses, there is a definite skin hunger, one in which finds many widows seeking strictly physical relationships. One of the most difficult things for a widow to consider is ANY intimate or emotional relationship with another companion. The levels of guilt, betrayal, distrust, and lack of hope are so prevalant, especially within that first year. We just seek, hoping to find something that can bring us even an ounce of happiness.
Dating as widow is quite difficult-when we feel happy, we question it. When we’re sad, we feel guilty. We are trying to find equal balance of pleasing someone new, and still honoring the past. It is a constant tug and pull relationship.
There should not be these unspoken rules of what a widow(er) should and should not do when seeking to date again after the loss. Judgement has become so quick to determine when someone is “over” a spouse. I don’t believe one ever gets over the loss of their spouse. We just grow past it and come to accept that our spouse would want us to be happy. Our hearts are a bit more guarded, but in the same breath, we know how life is short and do not want to waste time with the games of dating.
Being a widow once already, I do realize that the possibility of being a widow again is quite high. That scares me, as I discussed with a close widow friend, but it does not stop me from wanting love again, from seeking it out, from craving to fall like I did once before. And this time around, I know I could handle it-I do not want to, but I know I could. I am strong. We are strong.
There are no rules to dating again as a widow, but just know that in most cases, we think about it thoroughly, deeply, considerately. While we may not always make the smartest choices, we make the choices that bring us happiness. And above all, happiness is one of the best emotions to feel after experiencing a loss this great.
I’d suggest at least one year. If it’s shorter (and especially if you have a child) you can end up getting married for the wrong reason. You just lost your best friend. How long will it take for you to find another best friend? I can’t even imagine.
I’m speaking from personal experience. If you and your child have good family support and love, it’s best to wait. Even if the one you would marry has an amazing family who loves your child and adopts them as their own you have to ask yourself the question: why are you getting married? Do you really know and love this person?