Your “Chapter Two” they call it in the Widow/Widower world. It is when you find love again after the loss of your spouse. I didn’t understand how that could even be possible. I did speak with some widows that found love again, and have told me how that felt for them. But I was not sure how, if, or when that would ever happen to me. Just like your grief journey, this new “chapter” as they call it, is different for everyone.
I am part of very large Facebook groups for us widows and widowers, and the questions is asked often in these groups. Did you find love again? How long until you started dating? The answers are so different. When I see these questions in the group, I read all of them. Even if there are 200 comments, I read them all. Some say, “I will never marry or date again” or “I lost my husband 10 years ago and will be alone forever” and then there are others that say, “I found the most incredible love a few months after”, or “I am dating now and its wonderful”. There are also some that tried dating again and it didn’t work out but they are hopeful that it will again.
It started out as curiosity to see if there was a majority or people that waited a long time or not. I guess I am always looking for what is normal, or typical for a widow. But the truth is, there is no normal or typical. I guess I was looking to see if I could easily blend in with the norm.
A very large part of my grief is guilt. I feel guilty for many things that I should not. (so my counselor tells me) I feel guilty for moving back to NC so quick, for not taking a picture holding his hand in the hospital, for not thinking about him for an entire day….
I try SO hard to “feel” him around me, to feel his presence. My family tells me that it is in the things I see and hear and that they are subtle, but he is there. I feel guilty for not feeling him more. I feel guilty for thinking about love again.
I have been consumed with what other people, friends and family would think if I started dating again. I feel guilty talking about it, I feel like he would be mad at me for being with someone else. I had this crying session at therapy one day recently and my therapist leaned over and softly but firmly said (if someone can say something in that way, she can) “You are not cheating on him if you are with someone else.” Then it hit me….I am not married anymore, I am no longer his wife. I haven’t worn our wedding rings for quite some time now because it hurt to have that reminder on my hand…but a lot of me still feels married. She told me that I have to stop feeling guilty and worrying what others may think, or say. People judge no matter what and I have to not let that hinder me from being happy.
She is right, I know she is. I am a logical person and I normally don’t worry what others think about me, but this is a big deal. I know that I have such a large support system nationwide pretty much. People that knew me when I was young and have reconnected on Facebook, that have been a beautiful part of supporting and encouraging me. I haven’t seen them since I was a teenager, yet they lift me up almost daily.
I have a very special friendship in my life right now. Unexpected, and a breath of fresh air. I take each day as it comes, I choose to be happy and I will not let my guilt or worry stop me from that. I don’t know how I am going to get to the point of feeling so deep for someone like I did for my husband. As much as I care for this person, it is so hard to make any space in my heart without feeling the guilt that I am taking away from my husband’s space. I don’t want to share it, I don’t want to make room but it is happening anyway and I will just see where this takes me.
One our fellow widows in our blogging community said to me that her Chapter 2 is her entire life now after losing her spouse. The person she fell in love with after does not define the chapter but just part of it. She is so right.
Here is what I am learning.
It is not about finding love again, or not feeling guilty. It is about being happy. Being content with myself and the decisions I make, knowing that they are well thought out, keeping my priorities as they should be (my new career and my kids) and just taking it from there. Look, I know more than most that life changes in an instant. Don’t waste a second on holding yourself back.