Once upon a time, if you were widowed it was assumed you would stay widowed. Your black dresses – or widows weeds, as they were known, were your distinguishing feature and dressing up to encourage allure and admiration from the opposite sex was an unimagined practice.
Good news then, that today widow dating is as commonplace as any other dating experience and along with divorcees and other singles, it is OK to make the first move when you happen to meet another single who takes your fancy.
The interest in widows and widowers preferring to date each other, specifically, has brought about a sharp increase in the use of niche, online dating sites to meet this demand. Time and again we hear that widows and widowers feel more comfortable with those who have also lost a partner. Sharing a common background precludes the need to offer any specific reason as to why you are single and is also a ‘red flag’ that you might still be feeling sensitive about your loss and not wanting to discuss your recent past in any great detail at this moment.
Widow dating can also bring about a welcome relief. Getting to know someone else who has also experienced the loss of a partner and can relate to what you are going through will make those first few dates a lot easier. Sharing stories is an important part of forming new friendships and in the early stages opening up about the need to find fulfilment because you’re missing the closeness of a partner will surely resonate sympathetically with your date.
Making new friends and knowing when to move on will vary significantly from person to person. Moving on too soon can cause more emotional upset if someone you meet, and whom you are attracted to, chooses not to take things further. It is important to understand that everyone has their own criteria about who and what they are looking for in their next relationship, and if as a widow or widower you have decided to start dating again, you do not want to be hurt in the process for the wrong reasons.
That being said, having a reassuring arm on your back when crossing the road or a hand to hold in the cinema is a small action that brings huge comfort. Being part of a couple again can ignite wonderful feelings of ‘belonging’ for men and women and even if not long lived, for whatever reason, will make you more determined to find that special person to share your life with.
Not all relationships will bring romance and lasting friendship, but establishing contact with other widows and widowers will help you to recognize that you’re not alone. Young or old, it is always good to have friends of the opposite sex, even if it’s just for platonic friendship. Widow dating may sound like a scary prospect for some, but if you have patience and determination you will find who you are looking for and the romance will follow.
I became a widow at 29 years old, my husband was murdered while teaching his CrossFit class one evening. This experience was life shattering, to say the least. As a result of his death I experienced a domino effect of other losses – my car, house, job, family, friends… I was basically stripped of everything. Unfortunately, I had to jump into survival mode to make funeral arrangements, handle the closing of the gym, and most importantly to be a “stable” parent for my 2 year old son. A lot of people would compliment me by saying, “You’re so strong!” And honestly, that would make me mad; I really wanted to say, “You have no idea what I’m feeling, and it’s definitely NOT strong.” I know they meant well, but the truth is I was numb and on autopilot. As I continued to journey into the next few months, and even over a year, I accepted the identity people saw and didn’t share how much I was struggling with living. Again, I had experienced so many losses so I was grieving multiple events and the weight was incredibly heavy – so heavy, I couldn’t even find the words. I also, didn’t want my pain to become someone else’s burden, so I kept it all inside for almost two years. It wasn’t until I discovered that I wanted to help others in their grief journey that I realized I wasn’t being authentic about the pain I was feeling. Now, I am helping people not by being overly positive, but by being real.
About 3-4 months after my husband died, I was laying in bed overwhelmed with sadness. Deep in my heart I heard this statement, “Take your pain, turn it into purpose and pay it forward.” I believe I was in so much pain, it resonated with me deeply that I didn’t want anyone else to feel the way I did. At the time, I didn’t know what that meant, but I felt abandoned during the worst time of my life and I didn’t want anyone else to go through grief alone. Over the next year I started to journal what “support” would look like, what actions were helpful or harmful, and what advice would I give not just the griever, but the people around them. We all tend to isolate after any kind of tragedy, but I believe if we had help building resilience and growing through hard times, then it would create a ripple effect of paying it forward to help others. We’re all connected through suffering – grief is universal.
It’s not important, it’s IMPERATIVE to get connected with other widow(er)s. There are things we can’t talk about, or don’t have the words to describe what we are feeling and only other people who are widowed would understand. This journey makes you feel like you are crazy, but really you are just battling an internal conflict between love and loss. Hearing from others who are feeling the same heartache helps break through that isolation which helps you start to rebuild your life again.
Absolutely not! There isn’t enough support because society has created myths about grieving which have become barriers to healing. “Time heals, grieve alone, stay busy….” These myths force us to suppress natural emotions tied to grief, and after awhile that toxicity can start to manifest itself in unhealthy ways for the griever. It’s a vicious cycle. Yes we need more support, but really the ball is in our court. We have to first be vulnerable and authentic, and with that, we have to be willing to educate those around us. People are paralyzed by fear, so if they don’t know what to do or how to offer proper support, then they do nothing. But if we speak up and tell them what we need, solutions can begin to be crafted.
The most rewarding part of the journey is not just hearing and seeing their healing, but always experiencing healing myself. You see, the truth is we never really stop grieving – we just learn to manage the grief differently as life continues. I still have moments where grief consumes me, tears flow uncontrollably, or I get angry – but all of that is okay, and normal! Now I don’t feel shame, or like I have to act “strong”; and by sharing this with others, we are healing and rebuilding ourselves together.
- What one book? Mindset by Carol Dweck
- What one activity? Crying!! it’s so necessary and so cleansing.
- What one quote? “I have two choices: give up or get up.” – that’s my own quote that has helped me in dark times.
- What one piece of advice? There is no rulebook or timeline for grief, just take it one breath at a time.
- What one song/piece of music? Oceans (Where My Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United.
To find out more about Karen, visit www.thegriefconsultant.com
The New Year is officially in full swing and although there’s nothing written that says this is the only time for making changes, it is a good focal point for reappraising your successes and failures of the past year. If there have been success stories during the last twelve months, then you should congratulate yourself. Any failures? Forget them, and move on.
New Year’s resolutions are usually associated with quitting smoking, losing weight or cutting down on alcohol, etc., but while all of these are worthy causes, they can be hugely difficult to achieve. I’m a great believer in taking things slowly – or in small steps, if you like, and have always had more success when I do things this way. Factors like smoking or being overweight are not to be ignored, of course, but listing some things that are important, but perhaps easier to control, will give you a head start. This approach will be paving the way for greater achievements as you go along.
Aspiring to make small changes that will improve your way of life can be implemented in many ways: for example, walking to the next bus stop to enhance fitness, cutting out at least one of the bad things you know you shouldn’t eat or introducing a smile into the process when you thank someone. Also, making a daily ‘to do’ list and sticking to it can be very productive and it’s always great ‘ticking things off’.
Now is also a good time to look at your social life and ask yourself if there is room for improvement? Deciding to try something completely different is a good way to meet new people and to discover hidden qualities and talents.
Having family and good friends in our lives is important and the start of a new year is the ideal time to seek out those we haven’t seen for a long while. Conversely, if there are people in your life who drag you down or leave you feeling unexceptional, then maybe another resolution is to gently phase them out.
As a widowed single reflecting upon the holiday season, you may have had well-meaning friends or family asking if you have dated anyone yet. This is always an awkward question – especially if you haven’t – but you shouldn’t feel pressured. However, if you have had the occasional moment when the thought of sharing your life again seems tempting, you might want to explore the possibility of meeting someone online.
Joining a dating website is easier than you might think and gives you the opportunity to get to know other singles while maintaining an element of privacy. Once you have completed your profile, the next step is up to you. Look at the profiles of your fellow singles and if anyone sounds interesting, send them a message.
Be excited; taking this step could change the rest of your life! There are no hard and fast rules about how long you take to make a connection, if at all, and remember, it is intended to be a positive experience and one that should bring you friendship and hopefully, romance!
Exploring new ideas and resources will be rewarding and help broaden your horizons. It’s all these small, positive moves that once integrated into your life will help improve your self-esteem.
So, NY resolutions are important and if you find yourself falling by the wayside, don’t give up. Tomorrow is another day, and if you focus on how good you will feel when you’ve reached a particular goal, any minor hardship will have been worthwhile.