Getting back in the game
Dating may sound like a formidable challenge and a bit surreal for those of you who have recently lost a spouse, as you guard most of your energy for simple survival. But for those who are out a few years from the death of their spouse, getting back in the game can be a real turning point in their rediscovery of life.
As with most challenges in grief, considering the possibility of a new relationship fosters fears both real and imagined and is driven by current circumstances and past beliefs. Many newly bereaved have spoken candidly about having no desire for another relationship. Their commitment to their deceased spouse is firm.
However, as the passage of time provides the opportunity to do the difficult work of grief, it is natural to discover a new self immerging. That inspires hopes and dreams for the future, which may include companionship or even marriage. The innate human desire for the companionship of another doesn’t mean that you don’t love your spouse any longer or that you’ve forgotten him or her. It means you are alive. As lost love heals a natural yearning rises in our hearts and many bereaved find they do want to get back in the game.
Meeting someone new depends on personal life circumstances and can take many forms. Currently the Internet offers a superhighway to test the roads of companionship. Sometimes loyal friends will know another single who “would be perfect for you.” And still others leave it to divine providence.
Personality type, belief system and current circumstances, such as interests, location and children, also play important roles in how one faces the dating game. It is important to take the time needed to mourn well and really get to know who you are without your spouse. In that way you will more likely attract a relationship that will be suited to your needs.
Many women who have lost their spouse, myself included, take a considerable amount of time to grieve. I have found that a small percentage choose never to seek companionship again. But the majority of women I’ve worked with, who have done the work of grief, have reconciled their loss and found new life again. And companionship is part of that new life.
I have also found that men, who are generally more pragmatic thinkers, are sometimes more prone to seek companionship earlier than women. John said, “I have said from the beginning that I knew sometime down the road I would like to meet someone. I liked being married and want someone to share my life with.”
In contrast, at the beginning of Mary’s grief journey she was firm in her conviction that she would never love again. Now several years later she has reconciled to the notion that life goes on. She said, “I never thought I would ever say this, but I’m lonely. I would like male companionship.” Her heart is ready to love again.
In the two decades that I have lived since my own husband’s death, I have dated a few good men. It wasn’t easy to want to “get out there.” But I too missed male interaction and learned to face my fears.
I recently deeply loved and lost a man because of life circumstances. His loss left a hole in my life that until he loved me I did not know existed. It is another loss that I face with all the usual grief and sadness. But I will be forever grateful for his gift of love. He opened my heart to it again.
So when you are ready, whether you are anticipating marriage or simply seeking companionship, give yourself permission to step out even with the fear and receive the beauty and abundance that love has to offer. Mourning well allows you to open your heart to love again. And that’s what life is all about.
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