It has been about two and a half years since my husband passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. He had just turned 36 and our twins were due to be born in three months. Many of you reading this have also lost a spouse, so you know the darkness that came next.
During that time you can’t help but wonder if there will ever be light and happiness again. Each of us has our own journey that we must travel. Seeking companionship is a natural stop along that path. But when is the “right time”?
I have spoken to many widows and widowers about their dating experiences, and I can tell you that it’s truly different for all of us. Just as there is no instruction guide for how to be a widow, there are definitely no instructions for how to begin dating again either. There is no “good amount of time” to wait. Your heart is either open to loving again or it’s not.
I was a widow for about a year and a half when I decided it was time, I was ready. I needed some adult interaction and to be social again. I really didn’t expect much from dating. I’d probably go out to a few dinners, the movies, or chat on the phone on occasion. I never expected to meet someone special right off the bat.
When you’re young and widowed with small children, people tell you all the time that you still have your whole life ahead of you. “You’ll meet someone”, they say. But in your mind you think “no one like the one I lost”. And that’s absolutely true.
You can’t replicate a love or replace someone in your life. After meeting someone and falling in love again, I now know what is possible. Your heart is big! There is room in there for new love. It doesn’t push out anything or anyone to make room.
It’s hard to explain how it’s possible to love someone new while your feelings remain for someone else. Maybe it’s because the relationship didn’t “end” the way people are used to them ending. There was no fighting or growing apart, no divorce, no finality to “us”. I almost think of it as our relationship was packaged up into a pretty velvet pouch; tucked away safely in a warm, quiet, and beautiful place. It will always be there, always a part of you.
Loving someone new opens up another part of your heart. It’s not going to be the same, and you’re not re-creating your relationship. I love that my late husband can be a part of our lives, and he always will be. I see him in the faces of our children, and we talk about him often. I truly believe that in some way he had a part in choosing this next relationship. He couldn’t have known what our future held, but he had actually spoken about what he would want for me “after he was gone”. He wanted love, laughter and happiness. By opening up my heart again, I have found those things, with him by my side.
I can feel him still with me in my heart, everything wonderful and special that we shared still tucked away in that velvet pouch. It will always be there with me, no matter where my journey in life ends up taking me.