Whether it’s expected or sudden, losing a partner is always one of the most devastating experiences of complete heartbreak. The finality of the loss of the love of your life, and the idea that you will move forward in the world without them by your side, might be one of the most difficult challenges you will ever face.
If you’ve suffered the death of a significant other, have grieved for what may feel like an eternity and feel like most days you are able to breathe again, you may find yourself at a point where you think about wanting to find love and companionship again. You might have feelings of fear, anxiety, or even guilt, and you’re not sure how (or if) you should try for companionship again. Read on for some advice that can help you if you are contemplating the idea of beginning the process of dating.
There’s No Timeline
In grief, there’s no handbook or checklist; how you mourn and move forward is completely personal. Whether it takes you 12 months or 5 years, your timeline is your own. When you begin to feel the crippling sadness lift, and you find yourself yearning to share your life with someone again, it is probably time to begin the process of dating. Sharing every day with someone is a very intimate and special experience, and it’s healthy and natural for you to move forward with your life in a positive way.
Letting Go of Guilt
While it’s important to take the time to heal and recover from such a devastating loss, it’s also important not to prolong the period of mourning; particularly out of an unhealthy guilt. Your partner would not want you to live the rest of your days in this depth of sorrow. If you find yourself feeling guilty, know that your feelings are normal and natural, but also remind yourself that you still deserve to strive for happiness in this different life after loss.
Your children and other family members who are also grieving the loss of your spouse may not be ready for you to date again. While it’s important to be sensitive to their grieving process, you must also remind them that it’s your decision to make. Keep in mind that their journey of grief is personal to them. As you remain sensitive to their process of mourning, remain true to yourself and move forward when you are ready.
The choice to begin dating again is an entirely personal one. As someone who has suffered such an incredible loss, it will be a very difficult decision; and it’s a decision that is only yours to make. Deciding to date again doesn’t erase the memories of the past, nor does it replace the spouse that you so loved. Dating has the potential to bring you a new and different joy, and enable you to continue adding more loving memories to your life after loss. I have been witness to many who would say they still deeply love and desperately miss their spouses, yet also described to me how lucky they feel to have a second chance to love again.
Are you struggling to cope after the death of a significant other? Could you use support and guidance from someone outside of your friends and family? A licensed therapist can help. Call my office any time, and let’s schedule a time to talk.