Losing someone you love is the hardest thing you will ever go through in life. Dating can be hard for anyone, but especially for those who believe they’ve found their soulmate, and are trying to find love again. You can’t replace the love of your life, but there is hope.
Here are some inspiring stories of widows, and widowers who are in various stages of dating.
1. Better Than Ever
Yes, I love my new spouse-to-be more than the first one. Hindsight is 20/20.
My first husband and I fell in love FAST. He had moved in with me two months into our relationship. He was a writer and had written poems for me and driven to my house (before he moved in) between classes just to give me a hug and a kiss. Fast forward to me realizing he’s addicted to pills. He quit school, couldn’t hold on to a job, stole from me, stole from his jobs, “cheated” on me with some random girl online who liked his stuff on a writers’ website.
He killed himself. He’d tried to purposely overdose on pills twice and when that didn’t work, he shot himself.
The first two years or so after his death, I was torn up. An emotional wreck. Then I began to realize, I was mourning someone that never existed. This man was a master manipulator. He moved in with me so fast because he was being evicted. Yes, I believe he did love me in the beginning. Then I believe he loved me because I was all he had. He wouldn’t have had a pot to piss in if it weren’t for me. I worked my butt off at jobs I hated and we barely scraped by.
After his death and after I realized he was actually terrible to me, it hit me that when I was with him, I became a mere shell of my former self. I worried to death over him constantly. He isolated me from my friends and family and sucked nearly every bit of life out of me. I had lost weight and was constantly sick and couldn’t ever afford to go to the doctor – I had insurance through my job and still couldn’t even afford the co-pay for a doctors’ visit, or a prescription. (continued…)
That four year relationship and his suicide were the hardest things I’ve ever lived through. Hands-down. But I got through it. I never thought I was that strong. Full disclosure, I can remember having suicidal thoughts as early as age 8. Since his death? Zero. I’m not glad he’s dead – I’m glad he’s out of my life. That probably sounds harsh and callous. But I’ve thrived. I’ve rebuilt myself. I’m stronger than ever.
My fianc is the best thing that ever happened to me. He takes care of me, knows what I’ve been through, fully supports me in everything, and loves me unconditionally. He has the biggest heart and will go out of his way to be a good man and to help others. He healed my heart and life is better than I ever thought it could be. And I’ve gained 20 pounds of happy-weight since we’ve been together
2. Six Months
My first wife died in 2012 from a lung infection left over from treatment for pneumonia in 2007, which she came down with shortly after I first met her.
Those 5 years were good but she was slowly deteriorating as the unfound infection caused more and more problems. She was on a lot of pain medications to treat what we thought was fibromyalgia. It made her angry at times and she lashed out at me. Underneath it all I loved her but was hurt daily by her pain.
When we finally found out the infection was the source of her illness we had a brief moment where we thought everything was going to be ok. But the treatment to fix it left her vulnerable to blood clots and one stopped her heart and I lost her just as I was about to fully regain her.
One thing she did do before this risky operation was to have a date with me and our 4 boys and do all the things that people later say they regret. Big hugs and saying I love you and her letting us know what she wanted for us. From me she extracted the promise that I would start dating again within 6 months. I agreed thinking I would never have to worry about it.
I didn’t want to, but 6 months after I started dating again. It was awkward and confusing but those first few tries made it crystal clear to me that I should not compromise but only move forward with the right person. If that meant I was lonely the rest of my life, so be it.
Then I found her right after that decision.
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I Almost passed over her profile because I thought she wouldn’t be interested in a guy with 4 boys. I’m so glad I didn’t because she is a better match for me than I ever thought possible. We have a lot of joy and love in our lives.
I don’t love my new wife more than my old one. It’s more the experience of being in the flow of love or not and I was/am definitely in the flow with both.
There is quite a difference in the joy in my life. Because of my former wife’s ongoing health issues there was a lot of baggage between us that was hard to clear out when new bags were arriving daily. With my current wife, we don’t have that between us and our love can flow more easily.
3. Different Kind Of Love
It is difficult to love a new spouse MORE than ones original spouse – perhaps DIFFERENTLY is a better choice of words.
My original spouse, whom I loved very much, died from a rare form of breast cancer after fighting it for about three years. As her caregiver, it was very difficult to watch that happen and to ultimately lose her. However, we grieve our loss, we rationally know we have to carry on living (although that too feels optional for awhile), and eventually we begin to feel somewhat normal again. I say somewhat because the ghost of your spouse is always with you in your memories and feelings – that never completely goes away. When you share that level of intimacy with someone, their love never leaves you.
Then comes the interesting process of finding a new partner. I personally felt like I was damaged goods for a long time – that I had a screw loose or a blown fuse in my head that prevented me from fully feeling and enjoying the company of others, both my ordinary friends and potential new girlfriends that came along.
I consciously sat down and meditated on what I wanted in a new relationship. I put out the intention to the universe that my new relationship would be even more loving, enjoyable and wonderful than the relationship that I had had with my late spouse. At first this felt logically impossible – who could possibly replace the perfect mate I had before? However, I left myself open to that possibility and it did manifest (fairly quickly) for me, and I am currently enjoying the beginning of a new relationship that is quite different from my past one, but very exciting and enjoyable in many new ways.
I was surprised that I found someone new who really liked me. Of course I felt some guilt that I was betraying the bond of love that I had with my dead spouse. However, I had previously done a lot of Jungian analysis with some good therapists, and knew how to sort out the cognitive dissonance from my true feelings and beliefs. And a bit of dream analysis can go a long way to help sort out your inner thoughts, allow wisdom to enter in, and bring things back into a state of harmony and balance.
Do I or will I love this new partner more than my original partner?
No, this love feels quantifiably different and has qualities that take it in a totally different direction. It would be like comparing apples and oranges. My life cratered for a few years, and now its going in a totally different direction than I expected from my old lifes direction. My love for my new partner feels very unique and has a new strength tempered by the anguish of my past loss. At the same time it shares space with an abiding love and respect for my late partner. Hopefully this makes both loves stronger and more brilliant like a polished diamond.
4. I Tried To Save Her
I felt guilty off and on for about a year after my spouses death. Part of that was simply wondering what else I could have done to save her with some special treatment that could have cured her (I had read everything I could about cancer therapies and alternative treatments). Did I miss something? Did I not understand something? Did I not challenge the oncologist to try harder? Hell, we even broke the law and did ayahuasca six times together with a shaman as a potential cure for her cancer. We did everything humanly possible and it still wasnt enough. But you feel guilty for not having saved your partner, no matter what you do. It takes time to unravel that guilt.
My new partner has been very supportive and knows the whole story. I think she sees my past and present actions as a sign of my inner strength and ability to continue to love even after having my heart ripped out of my chest. My new partner is not up on Carl Jung but realizes that my inner life is as important as my outer life and supports the continuing unfolding of my spirit in my new relationship with her. I think she sees that it all benefits her. I dont dwell on the past. She is always the centre of my attention, so she is on board, and she doesnt see me as damaged goods.
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5. Peace And Harmony
My wife of 17 years died in a tragic accident leaving me with two children 5 and 7 years of age. My wife and I were very close, able to complete each other’s sentences. When I finally accepted and was at peace that she was gone, I felt like I should remain single out of respect for her. However, I found another partner who has been a perfect wife for the last 25 years. I can not imagine a better wife or mother for our children, she adopted our babies.
I cannot compare the two wives, it is indeed an apples and oranges comparison. Partly because I am also a different person as well. Living through the death of my first wife changed who I am.
Our children love and respect both the birth mother and their living mother. Somehow we all live in peace together with the memories and it has become a seamless love story.
We have four grandchildren who are now a part of the story.
6. Can’t Match Up
I’m widowed five years, in a relationship that is about 4 years old. I love the guy I’m with now very much. Not sure if we’ll ever get married (he’s divorced, so we have both done the wedding thing before), but we do plan on spending the rest of our lives together.
My husband who died was a widower with a small son (4 when we got together). His wife died of cancer. In retrospect, I don’t think he ever fully recovered from her death. He died in his sleep, from either a heart attack or from sleep apnea after 5 years of marriage when he was 40 and I was 36. In my darker moments, I think he wanted to be with his first wife in heaven, a depressing thought, because I could never match up to her and also because I don’t really believe in heaven.
Anyway, I got a son out of the deal. Turns out I can’t have any children of my own because of a genetic defect. My kid is a boy with two deceased biological parents and I’m a mom with no biological kids. It’s serendipitous. I did worry that some of my son’s blood relatives would want custody after his dad died, but everyone agreed he was best off with me.
As for the guy I’m with now, I think he’s a better match for me in some ways than my husband was. They are very different men. I don’t love my husband any less. I will always love him. But I am very happy now with the man I’m with and very content with my life.
8. You Can’t Quantify Love
I was widowed at 25. That was 3 years ago, and I’m now living with a new partner.
It’s very very different. You can’t really quantify love, and if you don’t stop yourself from doing that you end up living in the past and ultimately becoming extremely unhappy. It’s important, especially after tragedy to try to keep your mind in the present.
My current partner does his best, and is very accommodating when I miss my old husband, which I still do to some extent every day. Some days I can barely move I am so depressed about it, and it speaks volumes about my partner that he will comfort me and take care of me to the extent that he does.
I love them both, so, so much. But in different ways. They were different people, and I love them for different reasons. Each one had charming, and not-so-charming aspects. It isn’t easily comparable.
9. Betrayal Of The Heart
My husband died in 2011 after 30 days in ICU and we disconnected his life support. It was a horrible, agonizing death. About 8 months later I posted on facebook that I was thinking of dating again. A guy that I dated 20 years before said he would be visiting where I lived (he lived 1,000 miles away). We were together from that day forward, first long distance and then I moved to where he lived. We are celebrating our one year wedding anniversary this weekend.
My current marriage is awesome in almost every way. I don’t have the years of friendship that I had with my ex, but that will come. What I do have is a depth of knowledge that life can be very short and if you don’t appreciate what you have, you may miss it.
I never had the guilt that I was betraying my late husband. I never wondered whether he would be happy for me. Maybe because I am not religious, I don’t know. I embrace my life and am so thankful for being lucky enough to find love again.
I will never be the person I was before my husband’s death. But then again, maybe that is a good thing. I am not saying that it is good he died, or that I am happy about it. But if life is about the journey, then you have to take the bad stuff as well as the good along the way.
10. No Longer Broken
I was widowed in 2009 when my husband (at 51, I was 32) died from swine flu (H1N1). I loved him with all my heart and when he died, it shattered. After six months I was contacted by a friend of his who was going through a rough time and wanted someone to talk with. After a time we met (He lives 150 miles away) and found we had a good connection. We are engaged at the moment.
As someone else said, I love him differently. My heart is no longer broken but it is filled with repairs and sometimes they break open and I grieve again for a little while. My partner holds me and lets me get it out of my system, he is very understanding and lets me grieve when I need too.
I still can’t quite lose the guilt that I could have done something sooner to help my husband survive but it’s more background then it used to be. I know for a fact that my husband would have wanted me to love again as we had talked about that a little, with him being 19 years older then me, but we thought we had more time. Even though I told him I loved him multiple times a day it still never felt like enough.
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11. A New Life
I’m widowed. Not remarried, but started dating. The feelings I’m getting while dating are new. Haven’t fallen in love yet, but I’m sure I will.
I will never stop loving my first wife. My next wife I will love equally, with all my heart. To me there is no other way a marriage should or could be.
You need to look a it from this angle. You aren’t replacing your deceased spouse. You are creating a new life with a different one.
12. Passing Time
My wife died a couple of years ago. I haven’t re-married, but I have gotten into a pretty serious relationship that I see one day becoming a marriage. My late wife and my girlfriend were/are two different people. Some things I liked more about one or the other of them. My girlfriend loves to sail with me, which is awesome, because my wife never liked it much, and it made me feel guilty if I wanted to do it by myself. On the other hand, there are certain conversations I could have with my wife that just don’t interest my girlfriend, and so I don’t have those anymore. None of this should really, be surprising, because they’re different people, and so they have different strong and weak points, and different interests.
As time has passed, I’ve come to view my late wife largely how I’d view a very close friend who had passed. You miss them, you have memories of things you’ve done with them, but you don’t view them as somehow competing with your current friends and family.
Currently, my girlfriend is more important to me than my wife is, but does this mean I love her more now than I loved my wife when she was alive? I don’t think there’s any way to quantify.
One interesting thing I found after my wife died is that I was pretty much ready to jump right into a serious relationship as soon as the right person came along, there was none of the thing that bachelors do where they worry about getting married and are constantly weighing the value of their single-ness. I was already married (with a kid) and living a stable life and I missed that and had no qualms about moving back towards that as quickly as possible.
13. Filling A Void
My wife died of cancer last June at 39, leaving me and an 8 year old daughter. After three months I was “sort of” seeing someone who was still pretty damaged from a previous abusive marriage. I didn’t mean to do it, but I guess I was trying to fill a void (not a euphemism). Once that relationship ended, I figured I’d just let things roll and see what happens. Another guy said something about being alone, and so be it – that was my sentiment exactly.
14. A Long Time Ago
I will be married to my fiance in late August. I’m 27 going on 28 and I lost my spouse and the mother of my son three years ago. I can honestly say I love my fiance just as much as my first wife. It’s not that I will ever stop loving my first wife, but it seems like that wasn’t my current life, things were much different in my life only three short years ago.
15. Brighter World
I lost my first husband in 2008 very suddenly and got remarried at the end of 2010. I would say “more” isn’t the right word, but I definitely take a lot less for granted this time around. I try to cherish the little things and worry less about things that in the long run don’t matter. I think after losing someone you realize how quickly everything can change and it’s something you always carry with you. My first marriage was wonderful, but I was young and naive and I thought we had all the time in the world, so I didn’t appreciate small moments as much as I do this time around. I also have so much respect and admiration for my husband now for taking on me and all my emotional baggage PLUS my four children. He stepped up and made our pain less and our world brighter. Sometimes love surprises us and has a million different meanings.
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16. Pieces Will Mend
Widower who is now seriously dating someone – living together. The love has to be the same for me.
Background: I lost my wife of 6 years (dated many more than that) less than a year after her diagnosis. The last thing I said to her was “I love you” and the last thing she ever said was her reply: I love you, too.
The love has to be the same for me. We have to be best friends, we have to laugh at ridiculous shit. We have to be partners who know that, while we won’t always agree, we will be able to find a way to compromise. We have to cherish this life together.
My wife wasn’t sick for very long, but she never spent a night alone in a hospital, I would never allow her to spend a moment alone in that fight because I love her. This has to be the same.
Now, the only thing I found out in the months both during her illness and after her passing was that it’s the people that are different. They say and do different things, they definitely treated me differently. I’ve heard, seen and felt this very broad range of emotion from people.
What does any of this have to do with being in a serious relationship (for me)? I expect my significant other to be different, even though the love has to feel the same for me. I expect people to have different opinions on widower’s dating timelines, if people believe it should happen at all. In fact, I don’t expect anyone to agree on anything about this because I haven’t experienced anything more sensitive and complicated in my entire life. And, respectfully, I don’t care about other opinions on this. These pieces I mend myself.
17. Love Him More
I love my current husband in a more mature, adult way that makes me feel fulfilled in a way I was not with my late husband. He was a drug addict who, while a very nice person otherwise, was overcome by his addiction and who was very difficult to love. I would never admit it in real life, but I feel like I love my new husband much more, for many reasons but mostly because I don’t resent him for bringing tumult into our marriage.
18. One Day At A Time
Not married but in a relationship with a widow for a little over a year now. It’s hard, and I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. I love her so, and I’m doing all I can to make it work and she is too, but there are some challenges you’d never expect. I’ve been called jealous, and controlling by her friends and grown children. I’ll admit I didn’t understand a lot of it in the beginning, there are support groups out there that have helped. To complicate things he was an addict and not always what you would call a model husband but she really loved him and poured all she had into the marriage. He’s considered dad to her children even though he isn’t the bio father, when it comes to grief, I’m the outsider. We’ve definitely become committed to each other but some days I know to back off, take a breath and let her hurt, as much as I’d love to help her, I know it’s not my hurt to heal.
19. Suddenly Single
My husband died unexpectedly two months ago. I am not now suddenly “single.” I’m still married; it’s just that my spouse is in a different form and location.
There isn’t going to be anyone else. No, I am not going to change my mind, “move on,” or “finish the grieving process.” I just have to learn to deal with this new reality. Any attempt at a relationship would be grossly unfair for that person since it would be constantly overshadowed by my past.
And it’s okay. I was a loner before I met him, so it’s not an unfamiliar lifestyle. I can keep moving forward and living my life as best I can until we are reunited.
It’s like that movie Good Will Hunting. Will asks Robin Williams’ character if he will ever remarry. The answer is simply, “My wife is dead.” There’s nothing else to say.
20. Nothing Compares
While she was alive nobody ever came close to her. She was the most wonderful, thoughtful, funny, and beautiful person I knew. When she was passionate about something you could feel her glowing and her just being in the room would make me feel completely content with the world. We grew up together and the though of us not spending the rest of our lives together didn’t even enter my mind. It’s not that I thought it was impossible for anything to happen. I just never considered us splitting up permanently because we’d been through the biggest rough patches and even after over 5 years to me she was perfect in every way. I had complete trust in her and confidence that she felt the same. We could work through any issue that came up. We never really considered death being under twenty-five.
When I lost her my whole world shattered.
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I didn’t leave the house for months and the whole period after her death isn’t there in my memory. It’s literally like a corrupt hard-drive. I remember the day. I remember holding her, telling her I loved her, telling her it would all be okay while I held her hand even though she couldn’t respond properly and I knew it wasn’t okay. I have vague memories of the paramedics, the police station, saying goodbye to her body, and the funeral after. Then literally nothing for almost three months. It’s like I just shutdown and my brain rebooted.
I wasn’t really the same person after that. A big part of my died with her. I’m known for being a ridiculously open and outgoing person normally, and that sort of came back after a while but my genuine excitement at the world was lessened a lot and I found inside I’d become much more apathetic. I threw myself into university and work and got dragged out of the house regularly by my close friends (which I’m really thankful for because it would have been a lot harder to deal with everything without their support). But there was a period there where I’d have given anything to just die to go find her. It was only the guilt of what that would do to the people closest to me that stopped me spiralling down that path.
I still loved her then. And I didn’t date for a long while. It was a long time before I could even consider other women to be honest. Almost two years later I grew pretty close to a friend who had lost her father and we shared a lot. I didn’t know anyone else who’d lost anyone and was open about it. We were friends for a year and studied in the same group. One night we got drunk and stuff happened. It literally felt like cheating. Even after all that time my heart was still with my first real love. Afterwards we talked and she said she understood if I didn’t want to take it further but she wanted to try a relationship. I really wasn’t ready but I couldn’t express that, and I really did care about her, so we wound up dating. In a lot of ways it was a great relationship and in a lot of ways a bad relationship. (continued…)
I owe her so much for helping me get over a lot of my hangups. We broke up a couple of years later but I no longer had the feeling like my first love was coming back. I knew she wasn’t coming home and I realised I had to force myself to come to terms with the fact that I would have to learn to grow to love more than one person in my life if I was ever going to be with other women.
I dated causally for a long period after that. Lots of one night stands, casual relationships, casual sex. I told myself it was for their good too because I still loved my first love more then them so I couldn’t be in a relationship with them. I was approaching it wrong. I was still comparing all other women to her.
It was during this time I met a girl. She was a friend of a friend and we started just spending a lot of time together. We got on great and it was genuinely a pleasure being around her. She was completely different to my first love but that connection where you want to be around the other person and can just talk endlessly was there. There was definitely chemistry as well. It wasn’t long before we were dating and now it’s been years and I can genuinely say I love her too. She’s not as headstrong as my first love, and a lot of the qualities I love in her are completely different but that’s okay. She knows and accepts I will always love another women as well (even if she’s not here anymore) and says that while she doesn’t understand completely she accepts it as a part of me. I find myself wanting her around me constantly and just thinking of her randomly in my day and smiling. This relationship is the second time I’ve truly felt content and happy in a relationship.
Now to your question. Do I love my new partner more than the original? The honest answer is no. The truth is, at present, I love my first love with all my heart. I really can’t imagine anything ever changing that. But I love my current partner too, and my love for one doesn’t detract from my love for the other. The truth is my current relationship, while brilliant, is still in earlier stages than my previous one was and it’s hard to say where we’ll end up in the long run with certainty. We haven’t shared or grown as much together yet and we’re still working out our plans for the future. But what I can say is that I do love her, and I care about her and her happiness more than that of anyone else living.
Love isn’t a battle about who can care more. It’s not a scale with points. Love is caring about someone else’s happiness and well-being, and wanting to make their world as bright as you can. And anyone that truly loves me will understand that there is a part of me that will always care for the woman I lost. That’s a part of who I am now.
Now if you’d asked who I would choose to be with now given the option? That’s a question I’ve still not come to terms with and I guess when I know the answer to that question it will make decisions about the future of my love life a lot more straight forward.
To anyone that actually read this far thanks for listening. I’ve never really written or talked to anyone about this in detail and I have to admit it feels strange to write it all out on a page.