Curious on when you can offer advice to your recently or not-so-recently widowed friend’s love life? I, a widow, have some suggestions for you on how and when to do this….
How about you don’t? There is never an appropriate time to give your two cents on what you think a person who has lost their spouse should be doing in their love life. That being said, here are a few things I have been told and how I feel about them.
“I think you’re like me. He was the love of your life. I don’t think you’ll ever find a love like that again.”
Wow. What a BOLD statement. Not to mention the fact this was said to me within 2 weeks of my husband dying, so I was not even close to thinking of hooking up with anyone at that point. No matter how close a person is to you, they do not know anything about the relationship you have with your significant other. Were Jess Sr. and I soulmates? I believe we were. I also happen to believe that people have several soulmates. Different people for different reasons, not all romantic by any means. The pressure this person unknowingly put on me could have changed me forever if I had let it. I could have believed these words and forever lived alone, not even looking for anyone because it would never be the same.
Think about your words! They are POWERFUL.
“If you find someone you love, do it. Be with them. I will love you no matter what.”
This is a good one. Not that I need anyone’s approval on what I decide to do with my life, but these words helped me a lot. I was told this right after Jess’s death, like, a couple days after, by his mother. She was also widowed young and she felt a lot off shade from her in-laws when she decided to date again. She didn’t want me to feel that way from her and she made a point to tell me this soon and often. While she knew the status of Jess & I’s relationship before he died (rocky), she did not know whether I would ever consider dating someone else again or look at all. She simply knew that she loved me, she wants me to be happy and she wanted me to know that if I ever decided to date, she would still be there. This was so good to know once I did decide I might be ready to date. She has become one of the people who actually knows a lot about my love life because she really is ok with it and loves to talk to me about my life. (Love you, Mary!)
I’d like to say that having your in-laws’ approval is NOT NEEDED to move forward with your love life. Most in-laws will not know how to deal with you dating someone else and depending on your dynamic with them, it could go really well or really badly. Please know, YOU DO NOT NEED ANYONE’S APPROVAL TO LIVE YOUR LIFE. It’s as simple as that. It is nice to know my mother-in-law has my back 100%, but if she didn’t, I would still be fine and I would still do me.
“Wait…You’re DATING?!?!?!” (In a very surprised, judgy tone)
There is a huge difference between wanting to know about someone’s life because you care about the person and wanting to know about someone’s life because you are nosey and judging them. Think about what you are about to say and if it sounds like it might be even a little bit from a judgy/nosey place, DON’T SAY IT. It’s that easy people.
“Is that guy your boyfriend?”
See above paragraph on dating. If I wanted you to know if I have a boyfriend or not, you would know and not have to ask. If you don’t know and you are asking me this via Facebook message because I posted a picture with a guy you don’t know, but we don’t actually talk in real life, I am not going to tell you one way or another. I may tell you where you can go to find out, but it won’t be a very nice message.
MIND YOUR DAMN BUSINESS.
Here’s the thing, there is no timeline for Grief. There is no timeline for Love. There are society’s general, common-knowledge, unwritten “rules on grieving” which most believe and they are utter bullshit. Everyone grieves differently and at their own pace. We didn’t all learn how to read and write at the same time, we weren’t all potty trained at the same age, we didn’t all mature at the same rate, and no one got all up in arms because of it. Grieving is similar and no one should judge another person’s process.
Before you decide to speak to a grieving partner about their love life, ask yourself this question:
“If this person had not lost the love of their life and were simply a single friend of mine, would I be saying this about their love life?”
If the answer is Yes, Ask away! If the answer is No, SHUT YOUR MOUTH.
Obviously, a good friend will be curious if they find out someone is dating. Asking questions is completely acceptable, if you would be asking those same questions of any other friend.
If you are worried about a friend’s safety or relationship, talking to them about it is completely acceptable. If they are drastically different in their behaviors or you are worried the relationship is unhealthy or abusive, PLEASE discuss it with them. These are things a good friend would do in any situation. This should continue no matter what the person’s circumstances are/have been.
Basically, my dating and relationship status is none of anyone’s business but my own. Not my kids, not my brother, not my friend, not my boss and definitely not some creepy, should have been deleted a long time ago, stalkerish Facebook friend. Just as your relationship is none of my business. If I want to share with you, chances are, I probably already have and do.
It is not your responsibility to give a grieving person permission to move forward in their life. It is not your responsibility to make sure a grieving person waits a certain amount of time before moving forward in their life.
It is your responsibility to Love others. It is your responsibility to spread Light and Goodness in the world. Focus on that.
MAKE GOOD CHOICES.
~Love & Light, Sarah