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Being a Widow

My experience of dealing with grief as a widow


About Jane's brain tumour journey: Astrocytoma.co.uk

How soon can a widow love again?

03 June 2013

In today's Daily Mail, a widow writes that she started dating a new man 6 months after her husband died, that he moved in a year after her husband died and that they now have a baby daughter. She poses the question: how soon is too soon?

Unsurprising perhaps that the comments are strongly divided. Those in support point out that life is there to be lived and good for her that she is happy again. Amongst the supporters a few widows and people with experience of losing a loved one. Those who oppose the woman are frequently quite insulting. They claim she clearly did not love her husband very much, that she is only after sex, that if THEY lost their partner, they would have more respect and grieve for much longer. Blah blah blah.

I left a comment on the article because I was getting a bit sick of people with no experience claiming the moral high ground.

As a widow myself, I never fail to be disgusted by other widows who claim moral superiority because they have decided never to marry again. For them, being a widow is a way of life and anyone who falls in love with a new person clearly is not a 'real' widow and did not love their deceased partner as much as they loved theirs.

Well, that is just poppycock.

Frequently when I think of the past, it feels like it is an alternate universe, a parallel world, rather than a linear progression from my past up till the present day.

Rose Tyler sees The Doctor at Bad Wolf Bay
Often when I am in a place that meant a lot to JD and me, I feel like I am trying to *find* JD in there. (Girlfriend came up with this comparison for Dr Who fans: remember when Rose Tyler got stuck in a parallel universe but found a place where the wall between her universe and The Doctor's was so thin, she could feel his presence).
I am just wondering if that makes some kind of sense. JD is not in this world. And in this world, I am happy, very happy, with my new love. But I feel sad that I lost my "old world".

What I mean is that I struggle at times with the thought that I obviously wish JD had not died. But that would mean I would not be with my new love.

I guess it is a bit similar when a woman has kids with a man she ends up hating and divorcing. If you wish you never met this man, does that mean you wish you never had kids? I guess it doesn't. So how do you square being happy with something with wishing the thing that made the happiness possible had never happened?

I must add that Girlfriend is fabulous. As far as she is concerned, this is not an issue. Her idea is that if I am as happy with her, in the relationship, as I was with JD, then that is all she could ever ask. She does not ask me to be happy with my entire life as if JD and her death never happened. She understands that my life has a permanent 'stain' of sadness on it but that this does not relate to how I feel about her now.

So when are you ready for New Love? Of course there is no set time. And circumstances differ. JD was ill for so long that our relationship had completely changed. In the end I was more a parent than a partner. I think it is important not to think that you can only open yourself up to love again once you stop grieving for the one you lost. Because that will never happen. You will always miss the one you lost. You will always wish they had not died. Because if nothing else, their death brought you great sadness. And who would wish for sadness?

You should never look at things in the sense of 'replacing' your lost love. Merely adding a new love to your life.

I think the only thing you need in order to be ready for a new relationship is the ability to take the new person for who they are, not for a copy of who you lost. If you can do that, and your new love understands your sadness is related to the loss of your partner, not to the quality of your new relationship, then you are a long way towards happiness again.

Of course if you are with someone new and you keep thinking that it is a shame they are not the one you lost, you should not be in a relationship.

I miss JD every day and I wish she had not died. But not once have wished my new partner *was* JD. Because Girlfriend is a beautiful person in her own right. And she deserves that I see and treat her that way.


wifeafterdeath.com said...

Wonderful piece of writing. Moral high ground is always a shit place to view the world (especially widowhood) from. X

Deb said...

Your blog is wonderful. I found it last week and have been reading it often since then. I also read all about Jane at your other site, astrocytoma.co.uk. There's so much I want to say but instead of rambling, which I tend to do, I'll just say that I can relate to so much of what you said in your blog. In fact, there was a post there which you wrote in March 2011 called 'Fighting cancer? Just fuck off.' which made me smile and nod in relief. My husband died in January 2012 just one month after his cancer diagnosis. His prognosis was 18 months to 2 years. He came away from meeting the oncologist, full of determination and strength and if anyone could 'fight' it he could. But, as I've said to many people since then, it's f-ing hard to fight a monster that has invaded your vital organs and is literally squashing and dominating your liver and bile duct. Cancer goes so far beyond mental attitude. It is, in essence, a physical monster. I always feel quite insulted on my husband's behalf when people talk about 'positive attitude to cancer' and 'fighting cancer' - how dare they imply that my lovely husband, my best friend, somehow caused his death by not fighting hard enough. Like I say, if anyone could do it he could. So thank you so much for all the posts but, in particular, that one xxx

BunnyFactor10 said...

Hi Deb,

Thank you for your kind comment. I am sorry you lost your husband and I really hope you are finding joy in life again, hard as that may be.

That particular post caused a lot of upset in a brain tumour community I was a member of. I was accused of taking away hope for those who were still fighting and that I was ridiculing him and that I wanted everyone to feel as bad as I did. Obviously they completely missed the point of the post (although re-reading it now, I can understand that those who were living in hope of 'beating' it, might have been hurt by me saying: you WILL die of this). I am glad you understood what I meant.

By discussing it in terms of a fight, you automatically create winners and losers. And that is never fair for those who die.

All the best. x

Anonymous said...

Hi! Sound advice there, thank you. Any suggestions about dealing with a new love, when the deceased partners children are basically treating you like they've caught you red handed in an affair? :(

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