Prepare Yourself to Date Again as a Widow or Widower - dummies

Prepare Yourself to Date Again as a Widow or Widower

By Pepper Schwartz

Copyright © 2014 AARP All rights reserved.

Dating over 50 has its own special set of considerations. Perhaps surprisingly, widows and widowers who’ve lost a partner with whom they’ve had a wonderful relationship are often more motivated than others to date again.

And perhaps it goes without saying that if the relationship was awful, the loss of that partner may feel like the end of a prison sentence, and the desire to pair again is fraught with anxiety.

Still, even for the motivated widow or widower, there’s a good chance that reentering the dating market may feel like infidelity, or even betrayal. A deceased spouse may have even given specific permission and encouragement for her partner to love again after she’s gone, and yet doing so still feels wrong to the surviving spouse.

So many things can complicate adjustment: feelings of guilt over being the survivor, difficulty imagining being in love again, fear that you would fall in love again, and perhaps most difficult to control, the feeling of being robbed, of a partner taken before her time.

Though no one can tell someone how long to grieve, when grief continues unabated, it takes a toll on an individual’s health and is emotionally taxing on everyone around the person. If you’ve lost too much weight, aren’t getting proper sleep, or are suffering other deep and prolonged symptoms of grief, you may need to get outside help.

Some professionals specialize in grief counseling. If you want to get over your loss and can’t, then it’s time to ask for help. Friends and family can only do so much. At some point they’ll no longer want to hear you go over and over the same emotional territory, and even if they want to be there for you, they’ll feel bad because they won’t know how to help you.

Grief counselors can help you come to terms with your loss. They’ll meet with you as long as it takes and find ways for you to grieve much less. The meeting can be one-on-one or in group sessions, which boast a lower cost and have the added benefit of seeing other people struggle with and triumph over their sadness, which can be a model and an inspiration.

To find a grief counselor, check out the Association for Death Education and Counseling, GriefNet, and local bereavement groups.