Monday, May 9, 2022

In Grief: Is Our Friend Dating Too Soon After His Wife Died?

Love is like a virus. It can happen to anybody at any time.  ~ Maya Angelou

A reader writes: I just read your last post on grief, and I'm wondering: What would you say about this situation? A friend of ours was buried 12 days ago and her widowed spouse came over yesterday to tell us that he has a date this Friday evening. My husband has known this man since high school and we've always considered both him and his wife to be good friends. We acted happy for him, but I thought his dating so soon after the death of his wife to be a little unusual. I’m guessing that you’ll say that this is his way of handling his grief by trying to find someone to fill the empty spot…but, 12 days?!

My response: I can only imagine how this must feel to you and your husband, since you're both still dealing with the death of your friend, and someone you knew so well.

As for explaining this man's behavior, all I can tell you is that, in my experience, I have seen this happen before ~ never with women, but in rare instances I have seen it with some men. The reasons for this behavior are as varied as the people who behave this way. 

Unfortunately there simply are no hard and fast rules for deciding when the time is right (or wrong) for a widowed person to begin dating (or falling in love) with someone new. For some it may be several years, while for others it’s only a matter of months. (Rarely is it this soon, I must say.) But in the end, it is up to the individual to decide if and when he is ready to love again, and as a grief counselor I come from the position that it is not my place to make that determination for someone else. There are way too many factors at play in situations like this.

As you well know, marriage is a complicated thing, and not all marriages are happy ones. For all we know, this man may feel as if he is "free at last" from someone he's wanted to get away from for some time. It could be that the person he is dating is someone he has known all along, or for some time. On the other hand, he may just be looking for a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on. Or he could be running away from whatever pain he does not want to face, and dating someone serves as a distraction from his grief.

I think that all you can do in this situation is to be there for him in whatever way he needs you to be, without passing any judgments ~ if and only if you are okay with that.

If you are not comfortable with whatever he is doing, then I think you owe it to yourselves and to this man to be honest about that, too, and simply say that you need your own time to mourn the loss of his wife/ your friend, and you're just not comfortable with his bringing another lady into his life so soon. At the same time, you can acknowledge that you understand and accept that he needs to mourn in his own way, too, and you're not passing judgment on him in any way ~ you'd just prefer that he keeps his personal (dating) life separate from his friendship with you two ~ at least for now.

I guess what I'm saying here is that you and your husband should feel okay about setting boundaries in your relationship with this man. If his behavior goes against what you consider acceptable, you have every right to limit your contact with him. I'd just find a kind but honest way to tell him that.

I hope this helps!

Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below.If you’d like Grief Healing Blog updates delivered right to your inbox, you’re cordially invited to subscribe to our weekly Grief Healing Newsletter. Sign up here.


Image by StockSnap from Pixabay
© by 
Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, BC-TMH

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments are welcome!