Love After Bereavement: Up Close and Personal
For some, getting back into a relationship after bereavement will take a great deal of forethought. The mere idea of actually going on a first date will be a huge step and one you will hopefully approach with cautious enthusiasm.
If the new man/woman in your life proves to be a good companion and someone you’re attracted to, you may find yourself wanting to take things further. With this in mind it could be you’re suddenly and unexpectedly feeling overcome with awkwardness, and the idea of being intimate is a daunting prospect.
It’s important to acknowledge that you would have been aware a sexual encounter was likely if things went well and when the time comes to actually go ahead, it could be a bridge you cross ‘in the moment’. However, talking about this beforehand and perhaps arranging to go away for a weekend would perhaps help you to get used to the idea and feel more prepared.
At this point, if you’re questioning your reasons for having started this relationship, then you must ask yourself why. If this is your first experience of a relationship after bereavement and the first time you have had to consider things leading on to something more intimate, then it’s important to acknowledge you’re in this place because something has told you this is where you want to be.
Experiencing a second love does not mean it has to be second rate or in second place to your first. In fact, because we tend to idealize situations, it’s quite possible the memories of your first life partner are likely to be somewhat over-romanticised. Losing a spouse does not mean you won’t or can’t grow to love someone else. Nor does enjoying a loving, sexual relationship with someone new, mean you have to forget your previous partner!
It is presumed by now, you’re comfortable within this relationship and have allowed yourself to reach this situation with equanimity: so why the awkwardness? It might be that you’re making subliminal comparisons to your deceased partner or you feel guilty accepting that you’re ready to move on. Perhaps you’re worrying about what your family might think. Whatever the reason, it’s important you share this with your new partner. If he or she is sympathetic and understanding, then they’re likely to be someone worthy of your affections. They might also be feeling awkward too, of course.
So how do you deal with this? Unless you’re tee-total, a couple of drinks will help you to relax, and if the moment comes at the end of a day spent in each other’s company, and you have both been enjoying the experience of just being together, you may find what comes next, comes naturally.
Creating the right atmosphere is also important. It doesn’t have to be too contrived, but perhaps a scented candle or two; low lights and some soft music could help you to relax.
Acting upon any advice you might give to a friend, follow your own code of conduct. Safe sex is essential, and ensuring you really want to go ahead, and you’re not under any pressure, is important. Moving on at your own pace will make the experience much more enjoyable for both of you. Getting the first time over will also move the relationship on a notch, if this is what you want.
There are no hard and fast rules; you have to be guided by your emotions and instincts. Make this time together special. Try and put all anxious or embarrassing thoughts out of your mind and determine to enjoy yourself.
What matters is that you both trust and respect each other, while continuing to build upon the chemistry that has brought you together.
This article is part of the ‘Love After Bereavement’ series.