Falling In Love After Loss
One of the highlights of a marriage ceremony is the wedding vows. The bride and groom recite their vows in front of each other, their family, and friends. It symbolizes a commitment to life, made in faith and hope. These vows are the heart of the celebration.
Almost everyone enters into marriage with the dream of a happily ever after. Unfortunately, not all fairy tales end in a happily ever after.
What if after one week, three months, five years, twenty years, you lose the love of your life? You lose your spouse, your partner in everything, and your friend forever? The “till death do us part” came sooner than expected.
It doesn't matter how long you have been together or the cause of your spouse's death but is there life after the loss? Do you get another chance of falling in love after death and being genuinely happy, the second time around?
Understanding Your Loss
Nobody can fully understand how you feel when you lose your spouse. Your children will have a different kind of grief. Your grief is different from parents, siblings and friends
When you lose a spouse, it feels like you’ve lost a huge part of yourself. It’s like half of you died too. You not only grieve for the loss of your partner but yourself as well and the couple you once were.
While grief over the death of a spouse is not easy at any age, for bereaved spouses with young kids it can be harder than ever. Not only do they have to deal with their own grief, but that of their kids as well, while also dealing with the responsibilities of being a single parent.
But you must take the time to grieve. Grief comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. On some days you’ll feel calm, your grief a soulful melody in the deep recesses of your heart. Other times it can be turbulent and overwhelming, and you want to rage and scream at the unfairness of it all.
You need to remember that grieving does not make you imperfect. It makes you human. The hardest part of healing after you lose someone you love is recovering the 'you' that died with them.
You may be unable to make any sense of the loss, especially if it was sudden and unexpected. It is not easy and you do not have to hasten the grieving process. But gradually you will reach a space of peace and healing. You will learn to make the best of it and then you will realize that it is time to start moving on.
Knowing You're Ready To Remarry
Remember, remarriage shouldn’t be a reaction to loneliness. It should signify that you have to come to terms with the loss and are now ready to move on. Here are some signs that you are ready.
YOU HAVE ACCEPTED THE LOSS
The most important step to moving on is accepting that your spouse is no longer with you. This is the most challenging phase because you can live in denial as long as you want, but you cannot change the past.
Accepting means understanding that life for you would have to go on without your departed spouse.
YOU WANT TO MEET SOMEONE NEW
After accepting your new reality, you get a renewed energy to get out there. The initial goal is not to find another lifelong partner but to rebuild relationships and be with other people.
Rekindling and making new friendships is another sign that you are in the process of moving on. You find that you can talk to others about your loss without feeling like your heart is breaking into two.
YOU ARE READY TO SHARE YOUR LIFE
Go back to your previous marriage experiences. Love doesn't give you any warning or expiration date. You just feel that readiness of being with someone again when you have fully opened up your heart again.
When you have someone loving and accepting you back, you get a renewed purpose in life and love. Considering marriage after death of spouse is an indicator that you are ready for a new future.
YOU WANT TO ENJOY LIFE & GROW AS A PERSON
You have come to terms that you have to continue living. You cannot spend the rest of your life grieving because nothing can bring back a lost life.
You can start seeing life from an improved and more beautiful perspective once again and you now appreciate it more. Your grief has helped you grow as a person.
Places To Look For A New Partner
Dating too soon after death of spouse leads to more harm than good. Looking for a new friend and, eventually, a new partner should never be rushed. You need to fully be ready to open up your heart and your life again to someone new. You have to be prepared for the risks and the possible heartaches as a rebound relationship after death may leave you and your new partner disappointed and hurt.
If you are ready to move on, ensure that it is something you want. If you are keen to start fresh, here’s how you can meet a new partner.
THROUGH FAMILY & FRIENDS
It can be a boon or a bane, but friends and family may take it upon themselves to encourage you to start meeting new people. From introducing you to new people, inviting you to parties that have other eligible singles, forcing you to go along on group and double dates, etc. they’re usually the first to start matching you up.
The good thing about meeting a new partner through this channel is you have a pre-approved partner. Your family and friends have already endorsed him or her. Also, this new friend that they introduce you to is usually already aware of your situation.
In this spiritual community, everyone usually knows the history of every member of the congregation. They are aware if you are a widower and many would love to see you start dating while widowed.
You may find someone who shares the same experience as you or an eligible someone you are constantly interacting with during bible studies and other church activities. Meeting someone from the same church means you are already aligned in your faith and spiritual beliefs.
CONNECTING THROUGH A MUTUAL HOBBY
Most bereaved spouses find themselves taking up a new hobby or keeping themselves busy in different activities or organizations. While this is a coping mechanism, it also opens up doors for meeting new friends.
Having common interests and skills means you find a common platform to explore mutual interests. Not only does this allow you to meet someone, but it also contributes to your personal growth.
It doesn't matter if you were the bereaved partner or are the one dating someone who has lost a spouse; these common interests should be a great place to start.
ONLINE DATING WEBSITES
Dating websites are a growing trend, and open to people of different ages, backgrounds, histories, and experiences. Dating websites take off the pressure of meeting someone for the first time since you start by getting acquainted with each other virtually before actually meeting up.
You can share backgrounds and see how the relationship goes from there, and once both of you are ready, you can meet in person and take things from there.
The biggest drawback here is the difficulty in gauging the genuineness of the person you are interacting with since you’re getting to know each other virtually.
Remarrying Pros & Cons
Statistics say that divorce rates for second marriages are higher than those for firsts. While this in no way should discourage you from considering a remarriage, you need to go in well aware that it is generally harder to make a second marriage work. You should therefore take the plunge more informed and better prepared. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of remarrying after a loss.
PROS TO REMARRYING
Someone To Make Memories With
Life is more beautiful and enjoyable when you have a special person to share it with. Yes, your children would be there, but they will eventually move on and have lives of their own.
Falling in love after death is a gift because you were given another chance to share your life and love with someone else. When you move on, you are closing one chapter of your life and opening a new one. Note that closed chapters are just that — closed but not forgotten, disregarded, or thrown away. It's always going to be there when you have the yen to turn back the pages. But a second chance means another opportunity to create a brand-new chapter filled with new memories to cherish.
Two paychecks are very much welcome especially in today’s day and age. With your spouse passing on, you don't just suffer the physical and emotional loss but a financial one as well. You may find yourself working hard, putting in extra hours to compensate for your then combined income.
Remarrying can help lift the stress and pressure of your financial challenges. You and your new partner can start making arrangements and agreements about bills and other household expenses. With a supportive partner, you will be able to recoup and recover after a financially trying time. This can also bring much more stability, especially in your retirement years.
The process of agreeing on the finances may not be easy and will be a huge bout of trial and error. It would take time to come up with arrangements finally, but it is always good to share financial responsibilities with someone rather than face it alone.
During and after the death of a loved one like your spouse, your emotional health is compromised. There is a surge of emotions you have to deal with aside from the mental anguish that can take a toll on your overall functionality.
Remarrying has an absolute positive to your psychological well-being, especially in the aspects of:
- Loneliness - When you lose your spouse, deep loneliness enfolds you because you are suddenly alone without the person you vowed to be with and love forever. Permitting yourself to be happy again by meeting someone new and eventually remarrying is like reaching the light at the end of that tunnel of grief.
- Depression - The prolonged feeling of sadness and vulnerability plus grief is a dark time for anyone who lost their partner. Depression is one of the most tedious and longest phases of grieving. Remarrying can help you cope with depression because you can focus on something else and invest all your energy in building a new life with another person. You have another purpose in life that would cause you to get out of your misery.
- Resolution of grief - Remarrying can give you a full closure that what is lost is forever lost, and it is time to start a new adventure. This doesn't mean forgetting your departed spouse but finally accepting without resentment or guilt that your present and future will be shared with a new life partner.
- Self-growth - Everyone learns from death. It is a painful lesson that teaches you to value relationships more and not take anything for granted. You understand that things can change, and people come and go. When you remarry, you take everything you learned and become a renewed and mended (hopefully better) version of yourself. You tend not to commit the same mistakes as before, and you grow as a person and as a life partner. Remarriage gives you that opportunity.
CONS TO REMARRYING
After losing your spouse, you either exert all your energy on being a parent or on your work. You gradually transition to a single’s lifestyle because it's the only direction you can head to since you are now alone though not by choice. When you remarry, you have to be prepared to share your life, time, and everything with someone again and become a partner considerate of another individual.
After the death of your spouse, you make the decisions. You take accountability, and you handle everything on your own. This will change when you remarry. Moving forward, decisions should be discussed with your new partner, and it needs to be mutual and fair for both sides. You have to re-learn to compromise and meet someone in the middle.
Loss Of Benefits
As a widow, you might be qualified and eligible or currently receiving some pension or social security benefits. When you decide to get married again, those benefits may be withdrawn.
It’s the same with healthcare. If you are already eligible for Medicaid, this too can be affected when you remarry. Your new spouse and his assets would affect your eligibility, and as a result, you may no longer be qualified for this health benefit.
A Family That Objects
You have to be prepared that not everyone in your family (kids especially) will happily accept your remarrying plans. This is a huge decision and a big leap, and there might be some family members who would try to change your mind or downright object to your decision. As funny as it sounds, that's normal, and that's what family is all about. You do not always have to see eye to eye.
Remarriage may cause some family conflicts and may even burn some bridges along the way, but it is what it is. This time, you are choosing your happiness.
Try to make them understand that remarriage after the death of a spouse does not mean that you forget your deceased partner. It is also no way of disrespect, especially when you are taking another chance at love.
What's harder is if your children are not 100% supportive of the decision. This makes everything different because, as parents, you want to share your happiness with your children, and you want your children to be genuinely happy and be there for you too. This is why it is important to establish a good friendship between your new partner and the rest of your family because marriage is never only the union of two independent individuals.
Guilt That You Are Moving On
This feeling of guilt that you are finally moving on and starting to be happy and not with a new spouse could continue to eat at you. This is completely normal, especially in the early parts of your new relationship. It is just another manifestation of your strong emotions, especially your love for your deceased spouse.
But it is up to you to release these guilt feelings. Marrying again after loss is alright. It doesn't mean you're forgetting the past and dishonoring your late husband or wife.
6 Things To Consider When Planning To Remarry
Choosing to remarry takes careful consideration and may or may not be for everyone. Age of children, financial status and other life situations all factor in to taking that step to remarry.
1. REMARRY OR LIVE TOGETHER
This is something you and your new partner should concur on. Some would suggest that getting married is the best and legal way. A widower remarrying or a widow remarrying is legally acceptable, and if the adoption of the kids is one of the objectives, it makes the process easier.
For older adults and seniors, remarrying is not a priority, but overall, this should be a mutual decision and should not be done in haste. As long as both of you enter marriage for the right reasons, then go ahead and remarry.
2. IMPACT ON CHILDREN
This is the most crucial aspect of any new relationship. Telling them that you plan on remarrying can be nerve-racking and stressful. For most parents who value the opinions of their kids, this can be a make or break conversation.
After the loss, a huge percentage of surviving parents focus all their attention and effort on their kids. There are times that every member of the bereaved family gets through with the loss and grief because the death has bonded them. Sometimes, this becomes a permanent set-up.
However, over time, the surviving parent goes on to meet someone new, and a new family member joins the circle. The circumstances are always unique for every family.
Some may have this perceived perception about stepmoms and stepdads and view the relationship with hostility and objection. Others may welcome the change with open arms if only to see their surviving parent happy.
Dealing with a parent remarrying is hard for all kids, regardless of age, unless the child is too young to understand. Each family situation is different and every family dynamic, unique.
If you and your new partner are serious and are 100% certain about your plans to marry, then work on building a relationship with the other’s children early on. This is not something that you surprise them with. Kids who are friends with your partner have higher chances of getting along when turned into a family.
Here are some ways to have them try to understand that a parent moving on after death of spouse is alright and that you need their support and would want their blessing and consent.
Involve Them In The Conversation
Deciding to remarry is not something you do overnight. You need to tell your kids about it. As early as when you are getting serious about the other, talk to your children about it. Involve them in what's going on in your life. Be transparent and honest with your kids about it. As for younger kids, try an approach that they will understand. Always opt for age-appropriate methods.
This will ensure that your remarriage is not a surprise to them. You will also have a clearer view of how they feel about your new relationship. If your kids are uncertain, reassure them. If they don’t like your friend, find out why and give them reasons that convince them to change your mind. Should there be serious objections, ask them why.
Take note that during these conversations, you have to acknowledge and respect your kids' perspectives and feelings. They've already lost one parent and from their perspective, they’re also losing the other, even if it’s only to marriage. This can be overwhelming to them and they may be scared and confused.
Rather than browbeating, threatening, or emotionally blackmailing them into accepting your decision give them the time and space to come to terms with it. This will be easier for everyone concerned in the long run and healthier for your family dynamics too.
Reassure Them Of Your Love
Early on, establish the fact that no matter who joins your family, your love for them would always be the same, if not more. One way of letting them feel this is by giving them the chance to be acquainted with your new partner and allowing them the time to process their feelings.
It is expected that they would consider thoughts like, “Dad forgot Mom already because of this new girl” or “Mom is replacing Dad with that friend of hers.” As a result, these perceptions would cause them to be unaccepting and unwelcoming.
In their young minds, they already have a Mom or a Dad, and that person can never be replaced. Therefore, don't try to make them feel that you're trying to reinstate someone in those roles.
Tell them that what you shared with your spouse, their mom, or dad is something that you will forever keep and cherish, and they should too. Everyone has a heart capable of loving more without forgetting and letting go of the love of the past.
Tell your children that opening your heart to someone new is no substitute for the love you lost through death. And that gone does not mean forgotten.
You can also gift them something to hold on to and remember this promise by. For this, identical or complementing photo engraved jewelries might be exactly what you need. No, this is not just for the deceased but it can also for magical and special moments.
Share Your Loss & Your Fears
When you are planning to remarry, it is safe to conclude that some time has passed between now and your spouse's death. Every member has started the healing process and is not as vulnerable, overwhelmed, and lost as before. The extremely volatile emotions have subsided.
This might be a good time to speak to the kids, especially the older ones. Be honest and open about your fears of spending the rest of your life alone.
Talk to them about your new “friend” and how he/she has had a positive impact on your life. Tell them that you were also twice and even thrice as scared, confused, and even angry as them during the death of their mother or father. Explain, life has to move on, and this is your way of also trying to be stronger by having another go at an opportunity of being with someone else.
Open communication plays a huge part in these situations. These honest and raw conversations may hurt but they can also be the catharsis that you and your children need.
3. FINANCIAL STATUS
You have to consider the existing debts of both parties and discuss payment terms. Again, this is entirely an agreement between the two of you, especially if the existing debt came into place before your marriage. Whatever decision you arrive at, ensure it is mutual and taken with a lot of thought.
The big talk on finances is something that all couples have to go through. Some would prefer to keep their financial accounts separate but it is wise to have a joint account set up for shared daily expenses along with individual personal accounts. This might also help assuage any fears you may have of putting all your assets together in one account.
Others might opt to have a single joint account, and this is also perfectly acceptable as long as you’re both comfortable with the idea.
4. PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT & WILL
Updating your will and documents are necessary, especially if you plan to have children together or have some profitable plans and investments in the future. As far as having a prenup, this is a discussion that should be settled and agreed upon between you and your future spouse.
5. FAMILY TRADITIONS & HOLIDAYS
With two families involved, new traditions can be created, and holidays would be a gathering of different sets of families. Family traditions that were established before are events that can still be continued.
Some even celebrate their departed spouse's birthdays, especially when there are children, and it poses no issue at all. Family traditions and holidays should serve the purpose of binding family members together.
6. LIVING ARRANGEMENTS
This might be a simple question of who’s moving to whose house or as tricky as who is moving to another state to be together. This is not a light decision and takes careful thought and planning to make certain that it is the best solution for both of you.
Both partners should be ready and willing to work on the details, discuss the pros and cons, and be prepared for any compromises the move would entail.
You should consider factors like whether the house you plan on moving into is conducive for kids or pets, the job opportunities, the neighborhood, etc.
When A Family Member Is Considering Remarrying After Loss
Lending support and compassion when a family member is considering remarrying after losing a spouse is important. Here are a few things you can do to help them with making the decision that is best for them.
LEND AN EAR
You really wouldn’t understand the emotional turmoil and internal battle this person is going through. So, rather than coming down in judgement, put yourself in their shoes. Be open to discussions and look at things from the grieving member’s perspective.
Considering marriage after the death of spouse is not a crime or immoral. It is instead a massive leap of faith; one that requires tremendous courage after the pain and the loss.
Hear and understand without judgment. Just open your ears, heart, and mind as they voice out their fears, anxieties, and plans for the future. Your loved one came to you because of the confidence and trust he or she has in you. Be attentive and keep an open mind.
BE SUPPORTIVE AND COMPASSIONATE
As much as you can, empathize with the situation of your family member. Maybe the deceased was your child and you may find it equally hard to accept the fact that their surviving spouse wants to move on.
But, show your support by being there when they need someone to talk to. Understand that this is a big step for them too, and sometimes all they need is some reassurance and kindness.
Share their joy of being able to find happiness again and understand the apprehensions that they have. This will help you create a better bond with them, one that will endure despite the absence of the person who brought the two of you together in the first place.
Sometimes, you might need to keep peace of mind aside and be prepared to ask the most challenging questions. This is necessary since you love the person, and only want what’s best for them.
As the bereaved spouse, being asked the same questions or being asked some tough questions might be difficult no doubt. But these questions might make you consider things you never thought of before. If you are confident about your decision, these questions may just reaffirm what you feel. Else they might open your eyes to things you may have overlooked but are no doubt important for the success of a relationship.
Marrying a widow or widower is not an easy task. So, ask tough questions that need answering like:
- Are you certain about remarrying?
- Are you fully prepared to merge your families?
- Are you willing to be a father (or mother) to the other’s kids?
- Will you be able to treat them like yours?”
- Are you willing to move away from your family and everything you know? (if they are considering moving to a new state)
These questions may seem probing but will help your family member validate and feel confident about their decisions. They may also be an eye-opener for them. Of course, having them have hesitations is not the goal, but it's best to have these apprehensions addressed as early as possible, mitigated, and resolved before marriage.
SHARE YOUR HONEST FEELINGS
Your family member will come to you not just because they trust you but because they are confident that you are honest enough to share your feelings and talk to them.
Do that. When they ask you how you feel about the idea of them remarrying, then tell them your honest feelings. If you are happy and excited for them because you feel that re-marrying will positively impact everyone and it is the proper thing to do, then cheer them on.
But if you also have some qualms about it yourself, tell your family member about it but say it without any hostility, judgment, or outward rejection. Share with them situations and experiences that may have caused you to be uncomfortable with the future union.
Amidst this, ensure that you make your loved one feel that no matter what their final decisions are, you are there to support and accept and that it is always their best interest that you are after.
SUGGEST THEY TALK WITH AN UNBIASED OUTSIDER
A pastor or counselor may be better able to help them through this time. They can offer the additional guidance, support, and professional advice that your family member seeks along with some direction and enlightenment for the soul and mind.
The Challenges To Expect After Remarrying
Life is not intended to be easy. Sometimes it might get more challenging and may even break you, like the death of a beloved spouse.
Remarrying also doesn’t guarantee sunshine and roses and happy endings. You may think that after the loss you experienced before, you’ll have lesser challenges, but you could be wrong. Below are some challenges that can come up after remarrying:
GUILT FROM EITHER PARTY
The guilt of moving on after the loss of a spouse is more during the initial weeks and months of the new marriage. If not addressed in time, it can create tensions in the new union that may eventually cause it to crumble.
GRIEVING CHILDREN OR STEPCHILDREN
You cannot set a timeline for someone else’s grief whether it is your own children or your stepchildren. They may find it difficult to accept the new partner wholly, without any resentment or negativity and this can lead to tensions in the new union.
DISAPPROVAL OF FAMILY & FRIENDS
The disapproval of a close-knit circle of family and friends may also cause a lot of strain on the new marriage. Expect and accept that your remarrying may not be taken positively by all your family and friends.
While you may not need their approval, having their support can make it easier for you and your spouse. Attempt to find out reasons for their disapproval and have them meet your new partner, but remember, you cannot please everyone, and that includes loved ones.
LIVING IN A HOME YOU DID NOT CHOOSE
Entering a union means living together, and one of you would have to move out and move in unless both of you plan to purchase a new property as you start a new marriage. If one of you already owns a house, buying a new home is impractical, and deciding on the house that is to be the family home can be a source of disagreement. Remember to compromise and adjust where possible for the greater good.
COMPARISON TO THE DECEASED SPOUSE
In any relationship, there should be zero room for comparison. It is not only rude and unfair but incredibly hurtful. Live in the present without involving people who have already passed on.
Remarrying After Loss Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the more common and frequently asked questions when it comes to remarrying after the loss of a spouse.
What is the acceptable wait time before remarrying after a loss of a spouse?
There is no timeline when remarrying after a loss of a spouse. It all depends on the survived partner's readiness and how soon he or she wants to move on. Although three years is the ideal waiting time with regards to widow/widower remarrying etiquette, every individual is different and should remarry if and when they decide to do so.
How will my new marriage compare to my old one?
There should be no basis for comparison, and it is unfair to do so. Instead, use everything you learned from your previous relationship to be more healed and good in the new one.
Should I include my family in my wedding if I am remarrying after a loss?
This is entirely up to you. It would be nice to share that special and meaningful day with people who have been an important part of your life. If everything falls into place, and they are happy to be there, then invite them to be a part of your special day. Loss of spouse and remarriage is easier when surrounded by people we love and care for.
How do I know if I am remarrying for the correct reasons?
Deep in your heart, you will sense that you are ready and marrying the person that is right for you. There is no checklist here that you can tick off. If it feels good and it is what you want, then allow yourself to be happy.
Is my widowed mother moving on too soon?
Having their widowed mother remarry can be difficult and the children might feel that it's too soon. The feeling of readiness and moving on for another marriage is different from the children and the widow's perspective. If your mother is ready, then respect her decision and just be prepared to support and be there for her.
What percentage of widows and widowers remarry?
Most widows and widowers get into a new relationship within ten years of the loss of their spouse. Statistics show that approximately 29% of widowers and 7% of widows get into a new union within a decade. These numbers are almost the same percentage of those not remarrying but cohabitating with their new partners.
Gone But Never Forgotten: Finding Love Again
Getting that chance at happiness again and to continue living life the best way you can with someone new is a blessing after losing your spouse. Not everyone gets to experience.
When you have completely moved on and you have found that new person you want to spend the rest of your life with, then take that leap of faith. Like everyone else, you deserve happiness in the world, especially after experiencing a big loss.
Do it for the right reasons. Be grateful if your family and friends are happy for this new chapter of your life. Remarrying does not mean forgetting but accepting that opportunity being extended to create new memories and, once again, see the beauty of life and love.
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February 19, 2021 by Jeri K. Augustus