Coming to Terms With Being a Widower
Moving forward as a recent widower
Losing a life partner is particularly hard because you have most likely lost a partnership borne of both friendship and romance. The love you shared would have reflected on your relationship and brought you together throughout good times and bad. Coming to terms with being a widower, whatever your age, will challenge your spirits and senses more than anything. It is important that you give into your grief and not put a time limit on your recovery.
The course of bereavement for a widower can be somewhat different to that of a widow. If there are young children or teenagers involved, the experience can be quite overwhelming. In some ways, this is not such a bad thing. Being absorbed with the running of a home and organizing children can help to temporarily divert thoughts away from your loss, while you get used to your new reality.
Facing the demands of each day
Most widowed men will agree the daily demands on their spouse were far greater than they ever imagined. So much of what a woman does is a convoluted support system keeping the wheels turning in a busy household, even if it was just the two of you. This is not to undermine a man’s role, as he is likely to be supportive of his partner in many other ways. Of course, in today’s society, there is much greater equality between men and women in the workplace and at home.
If, because of a partner’s illness, the man is previously used to the daily demands of running a home, then coping alone will come in his stride, if not with a heavy heart!
With this in mind, it’s worth noting that men tend to take on a more primary attitude when it comes to the death of a spouse. Potentially, they have seen themselves as the main source of protection and support. A man will often feel angry with himself over the death, feeling guilty because he was unable to do more for his wife.
There may be the feeling that there is no real point in carrying on, other than providing the financial needs of running a home. This feeling has been described as ‘being lost without a compass’ and it may well appear to those left completely alone, that a return to work is without purpose.
Looking after the interests and wellbeing of children will understandably be a huge responsibility. Apart from their daily needs, getting them to and from school/nursery, friends houses, etc., they may well be harbouring pent up grief and wondering why they should have been afflicted with such a loss. This will be a difficult time and hopefully, there will be friends and family around you to offer support.
Redefining your routine
In spite of the inevitable concerns on the reliability of childcare, if necessary, and the day-to-day responsibilities of running a home, it will be good to concentrate on something else. Going back to work, especially if you really enjoy your job, will come as a welcome relief. Using this time to think about your own physical and emotional needs as well, is important. Joining a gym or something else involving exercise is a good way to enhance your mental stability and will hopefully put you in touch with new people. This could help you to leave your troubles behind and move beyond any anxieties or sadness. Just enjoying the moment. Look outside the routine you may have followed for years and see what there is on offer to broaden your horizons.
If you find that your recovery is taking longer than you would have imagined, it probably means you’re expecting too much of yourself. Resources offering support for recent widowers are many and varied, but seeking out any guidance from local services or bereavement support initiatives will give you the additional support you need.
Being a widower and dating again
As time goes by, you may find yourself hankering after a new relationship – even if it is only for companionship. This is nothing to feel guilty about. In fact, widowers have a greater tendency to seek out another partner, sooner than that of widows.
Dating again if you’re still relatively young may not have the same amount of foreboding than for those who are older. However, a bit of encouragement from friends and family could make the exercise that much more lightweight. It could be that one of your friends will know someone who could be an interesting proposition for you. There are, of course, many social avenues for you to investigate; or you may want to explore the possibilities presented by online dating. It is the norm these days for people, young and not so young, to seek out romance on dating sites. This way you can take your time and not feel pressured in any way.
When, and if you do feel ready to date again, try to think positively about the experience. Whilst there may be a bit of uncertainty to begin with, have confidence in what you have to offer. If you have enjoyed a happy relationship with your late partner, there is nothing to say you won’t experience happiness with someone new.
If it takes a while to meet that certain someone, be patient and don’t stop looking. Being a recent widower, you never know what the next chapter of your life has in store for you.
If, as time goes on, and you feel settled with the new life you’re leading and comfortable with being single, then let it roll! There is no blueprint that says you have to have a partner in order to feel complete. Companionship can come in all forms: someone you’ve known since childhood – or even a loving cat or dog. Doing what comes naturally is a far better way to go than doing what you think is acceptable to those around you.