The reality of learning to love again

When you think about love, it isn’t exclusive. It’s not exclusive to one thing or one being alone at any given time. Within our short little lives, it is endless and ours to express to whatever and whomever we desire. In terms of experiencing a bereavement of a spouse, widowers can choose to lock it away forever or to eventually give it to someone new. The right is ours alone.

I have read a lot of fascinating stories about how widowers have found love again in short spaces of time. It is very common for young widowers to find sudden love. It was only 2 days ago I was reading a very interesting article on the Huffington Post about how ex-Sky Sports presenter, Simon Thomas found love again within 12 months of his wife’s passing. Another celebrity status widower in the form of Patton Oswalt, again he was engaged within 12 months of losing his wife. Each with their own story on how they heal and embrace their new lives.

Ex Sky Sports presenter and fellow widower – Simon Thomas

Being a single windowed parent in my 30’s I wanted to live my life too. I wanted to live my life the way Katherine would have wanted me to. I was not destined to remain in mourning forever. I did not choose to shut down, wear black and become a miserable and bitter father to my daughter. Instead, I chose to grieve in my way, in my time and to move my life towards my own design – a design that happily included new love and new adventures.

If you have also chosen a similar pathway and you’re equipped to grip the opportunity by the balls. Be prepared to generate a level of shock reaction from others. This will usually come from the people who I like to refer to as ‘observers of grief’. These individuals generally fall into the categories of friends and outsiders. For me, it was mostly a selection of my wife’s friends, 2 even being bridesmaids at our wedding. Exposing just how shallow and selfish some people can be during a time of transition and openness. More than likely they’ll probably want nothing more to do with you or your children again. I have touched upon this topic in my previous post about grief and friendships not mixing.

During my experience, I noticed an array of remarks and comments from various people in the form of “it’s too soon”, “how could he do this to her” and “he’s just not grieving properly”. As if ‘they’ defined a universal grieving time period from their book = ‘The Idiots Guide to Grief’. It is criticism like this that we, the widowers are attuned to.

The reaction of others begged an obvious question from me to them. Since when did ‘learning to love again’ translate into ‘forgetting’ our loved one?

Exactly just how long is ‘long enough’ before we’re allowed to live again in the eyes of the observer. Is it 1 year, 2, 3, 4, maybe 10 or even 20 years until they’re totally satisfied to let us move on in life, to find happiness again? The honest truth is, only we can make this decision and it has nothing to do with anyone else around you. However, no matter what time frame your heart and soul has chosen, you can’t win. It could be in 5 years’ time and the reaction from the observers will always remain the same. I always knew that their reactions would be a selfish one. No matter how you feel just remember that If they had gone through a loss like ours they would never judge a person for wanting to fall in love again.

In broad society, it’s quite common how we accept a stage of our life to be over before we can start the next one. Our thinking is very linear in how we understand our own emotional states. The thought of overlapping grief with love to the observer usually is impossible to grasp. Not being directly linked to the bereavement, how can they? They will feel like you’re being disloyal or minimising the loss of the person. They could even think they’ll fall into this category if they show a level of support towards you.

As widowers we all know we carry our grief with us forever, it cannot simply be removed or forgotten. We are not required to conclude our grieving to begin a new relationship. The love in our hearts isn’t moved to one side to make room for someone new. If and when it happens an addition is built on. The heart becomes greater. We don’t have a capacity or limit to the amount of love we can give in our lives, love is infinite.

Since my wife passed, the love I have for her has never moved, it’s still firmly cemented into my entire being. It will remain that way for the rest of my life and will never go away. Not ever. Not with the passage of time. Not with the introduction of a new person into my life. I am honouring Katherine’s legacies of love and service by continuing to move forward; by modelling the best example that I can for my daughter, by building a family unit and living a life with my new partner, whom I love deeply. By doing all of these things, I am indeed honouring the legacies of love and service that Katherine left for me to carry forward.

I believe that all young widowers can do the same, if and when you choose to do so. There is no time limit when the time is right. When it does happen, and you let it in. Embrace it and carry forward the legacies that were entrusted to you by your late spouse. If you choose it, living your new life can include companionship again… and love. Just choose carefully, choose wisely — and love again abundantly.

Because you can!

2 thoughts on “The reality of learning to love again”

  1. Thank you for writing this. My husband died suddenly on 19th Feb 2018 at the age of 42. I was 41 and we had a 9yr old son. I too have met someone and beat myself up constantly with guilt as to why I allowed myself to fall for another person. I too questioned my love for my husband and felt I was being unfaithful or disrespectful to his memory. So if I felt this then surely others are thinking it ? I have only told my family however I have not told my in laws as I feel they will judge me the way you spoke about. I do not know what this new relationship will end up being or how long but all I know is that it makes me feel better about myself, gives me someone who can support me and also stops me being lonely. Surely these are good things which help improve my mental health thus making me better able to look after my son. My son however is a different story. He knows I have a new friend and that I like him a lot but he cries and worries that I will love this new man more than daddy or that I will forget daddy. I have offered my son reassurances that that won’t happen. So until I can be honest with my son about the extent of my relationship and i know its worth mentioning in terms of seriousness and I want him to know I feel as though to protect him and others I will be keeping this new relationship.under wraps.
    Love and best wishes to you and your daughter and all the best in your new relationship x

  2. This is a very honest story and it is great that you have written it. I am recently bereaved but do not have children. It is even harder for me as my home feels empty and I actually long for someone to share my time with, without it being strange but I was with him for 27 years so I have lost my best friend and house mate too. I don’t feel guilty having these thoughts but I strangely find it hard to act on them. I like the idea of meeting someone new but struggle to see how it can happen – strange as I am very out of practice in dating but I guess that is where it starts. I am finding it easier to socialise with friends but they are all in couples and I certainly am not going to split up any current partnerships for personal gain. I think this time you speak of is different for everyone and their personal circumstances. I would argue with any of the ‘questioners’ as could they cope with being on their own permanently after being in a long term relationship themselves? I find that so far nobody has answered me straightly when questioned on this topic – all very interesting and I guess it is down to how I present myself as Heather Version 2.0.

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