This is a topic that can be such a strange topic for many people because it becomes VERY opinionated towards the griever by all the outsiders looking in "thinking" they know what's right or wrong.
Society expects a linear grieving process no matter what. They start wondering why you're doing the things that you do. I have found that they worry if you're too sad or if you're too happy. Society definitely wants to fit you into a little bubble (not for protection, but because "they" think they know what's right; even though they have never lost someone before).
Dating after a death can be a very, very strange moment for a grieving widow or widower. I was fortunately married when my son died, but even dating after a death of a child, I know can be very difficult for that single parent. We live in such a world where we are judged by every movement a person makes or doesn't make. So, as a widow, when you even think about "talking" to someone or even "go out" on a date, your senses are heightened and your radar is up for all those nay sayers. That's why it is SO important to surround yourself with people that have "like" situations. What I mean by that is; surround yourself with other widows/widowers or bereaved parents. They will just get it and there are no questions asked and they are actually your biggest cheering squad. I had this group (I still have these people); but they just get it and they were my supporters.
Please, give grievers GRACE in all decisions they make. It's hard enough being alone and doing everything when there used to be two of you, but grace and kindness is needed. Remember, we have no handbook on death and grieving, so dating after death is foreign territory for many. Every griever is also different and every situation is completely different. It's okay if we want to date after 6 months of our spouse dying or it's okay if we don't start dating until 5 years after our spouse dies or if we decide to never date and remarry again, ever, that's OKAY too! You can see by any of those situations...judgement will come out like I said before; we are either too sad or too happy. When I talk about a single parent grieving a child and why it's hard maybe, it's because telling the story of your child's death and sharing emotions with someone who wasn't around for that and can't understand it, is really really hard! I don't think there's judgement with this, it's more of a feeling like "can this person handle my waves of emotions"?
Sometimes you get lucky...that's where my dating story comes in to play. I wasn't looking to date and I wasn't sure what I was wanting. When you begin to think about dating, it honestly does come with some guilt. Guilt because you don't think you should, am I cheating on my spouse, or am I really ready, how will this affect my daughter (or children), or will people be happy for me or will they judge me? I can tell you though being a widow is SO LONELY!!! It's the loneliest feeling you will have in life. Sure, I had Graci there to keep me company, but Graci was 6 y/o when her daddy died. So when she would go to bed at night around 8:00/8:30...that time from then until my bedtime was LONELY. So of course you sit there and wish and want your spouse back, but you know that can't happen. We as humans are meant for companionship however that looks.
When I "met" Chantz, my current husband, (I say met loosely because I already knew him and his family), but it sparked this little light in my dark soul that I hadn't had for many years. It felt good, it felt right, and I felt comfort, peace & hope. You see, most of you don't realize that when Jack was diagnosed with his cancer, he was terminal. We didn't know how long Jack would fight his cancer battle, but we knew our married lives together were going to be cut short. I started grieving the death of my husband the day of his diagnosis. It didn't mean I wasn't going to help him fight like Hell and it didn't mean I was giving up hope or any love of our marriage. So for me, I felt like I had been a widow for 16 months, then Jack died and I really was a widow but I had 16 months of grieving under my belt. (not only that...I had about 16 months of grieving my son prior to that under my belt too). Jack & I's marriage stayed strong after Garret's death, but I won't sugar coat it, it was still very hard. It was hard to find the old us and it was hard to find the joy in our relationship. The love was there, but the light was dim.
I know when I started dating Chantz which was about 8 months after Jack had died, peoples heads were swimming. Not all people, but there were people and there were conversations had that people don't realize I know they were having. Ears are everywhere, just remember that. BUT, for the majority of people in my life, they were happy for me and they accepted Chantz. Two people in particular were extremely supportive and those people were Jack's parents. They knew, they understood, they didn't want to see me lonely anymore. I will never be able to thank them both enough for accepting and protecting Graci and I's decisions to move forward in a new relationship. One other thing that I think people really forget when a widow or widower starts dating and their spouse maybe died from cancer like Jack, was that we HAD the conversations. Not one single one of you knew or know the conversations we had in our home during Jack's battle and the conversations we had the last weeks of his life and the decisions and acceptance we had to give each other to move forward; Jack with his death knowing Graci & I would be okay and Me with my life knowing I was going to be a widow at age 36 and giving me permission to love again. That is one of the greatest gifts Jack gave me and I know he is happy with where we are at today and fully supports Chantz.
To say it's weird to date at 37 again is true, but Chantz really made it easy. Chantz is the most laid back guy in the world, he truly is. I asked Chantz how he felt when he started dating a widow; he felt a little guilt. His guilt stemmed from filling in a love relationship with another man's wife. Also, going forward he has felt guilt for being able to live a life that he knew Jack should have been living and being there to raise his daughter. But what you don't realize is Chantz gives me the permission to be sad and he helps me honor and remember my late husband, my son, and my brother. Chantz was a gift to Graci and he asked her first for my hand in marriage and they truly have a wonderful relationship now (sometimes I think she calls him more than me LOL). Chantz also is the one who pushed me to start this new card venture and blog; he tells me to write the book and get it out there. He laughs at the jokes and the memories with us. He became close to Jack's parents and was a huge help during Gary's battle and illness and continues to be a huge support for Suzanne today. I thank God everyday for orchestrating our relationship and bringing me someone who is complete opposite from my 1st husband, but has as big of heart & soul as Jack did.
I can't say it will all be happy going forward with all grievers and it may take awhile to find "your Chantz" and you as a griever will know when you are ready. Go by YOUR grief timeline, not societies timeline. The only other dating advice I have for you is to not fight what feels right. I've heard and I've seen this happen and it happens because of societies opinions on what grief should look like (yeah the same people who have been fortunate enough to never lose anyone to death); grievers don't let their "happy" and "good" feelings be felt because they are worried about the backlash (and honestly feelings are scary when you've been so sad and then they start to feel good). One thing I do know is that we are blessed because God heals our hearts and he makes room for us to love not once, but sometimes twice (and maybe even more). God does not want us to be lonely, he wants our hearts to be full. I will always love my first husband Jack, but I am the blessed one to be able to have been loved by him and now to be loved by Chantz.
We can all be BETTER TOGETHER if we stop putting our thoughts in a linear line and think everything should be in a perfect box and let us grievers grieve how we need to and make the decisions we know will be what we need. One last thing about dating and loving after a death...YOLO and Live this Life to the fullest! Joy is meant to be shared and felt, so feel the freaking feels!
1 Corinthians 13:4–8a (ESV) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.