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Life After Death; Dating while Widowed


The question comes up a lot among widowed and those who are interested in dating them – how soon after the death of a spouse is it considered appropriate to begin dating/or pursuing?


In Gone With the Wind times, Scarlett knew the rules on widowed decorum because society at that time spelled it out. Mourning lasted for one year. You wore black and remained resolute and somber during that time. Everyone was clear on the time frame and would not stray from it.


Today many people like to trot out the tired cliché – “If you have to ask, it’s too soon.” It’s such a circular and unhelpful answer that the phrase ought to be banned from the grief lexicon because given the minefield of rules and expectations surrounding widowhood, asking is the only way to clarify whether the signals you are receiving from your peers, family and friends are about your welfare or their self-interest. There really is no right answer. Though you may be unsure how to know when the right time is, your biological clock will usually tell you. Something will click, and you’ll just know. Let yourself be complete and whole. It’s easy to jump right into a new relationship, but if you want to attract a healthy relationship, it starts with being healthy yourself. You deserve the time to heal, no matter how long it takes.


There are no rules. You’ll have to find your own way. Only you know what’s right for you. Widowhood is not a journey you choose, and there is no one way to do it, so toss “sure advice” from others out the window.


The first relationship can be a transition, a companion, maybe long-distance, and maybe you’ll be ready to have sex involved. If you’re not comfortable don’t take it beyond that, but it’s normal to have biological cravings, feel lonely and want that companionship. It’s okay to let it be just that. It’s best not to hastily jump into a real relationship. First relationships are meant to help you heal, to move out of the loss you’ve experienced and then move on.


If all else fails, grab a vibrator. Seriously. If you’re still experiencing any fear or neediness, that’s imbalance speaking to you. Listen to it. It might be that all you need is some time alone with yourself gives you the best opportunity to explore your own needs, your own body, your own desires. Plus, that will keep you from having random sexual encounters that might put your health in jeopardy.


Whether it’s a date or sex, widows sometimes have to give themselves permission to participate. Often, they are dealing with guilt, feeling as though they’d be betraying the spouse or the marriage, and that has to be healed. One way to heal it is to acknowledge it and grant yourself permission, ultimately, it’s about choosing to live your life

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