“If anyone can tell me how to behave in the face of losing one’s spouse to death, I will be beholden. My behavior is as always, but my activities are now completely changed. I don’t want to do the same things—they are too painful or hollow or both.”
—blog comment posted by recently-widowed woman, early 30s
As many readers here know, my own wonderful young sweetheart-partner died three years ago. We were blissfully married for many years. Ideally paired. Crazy in love. She was pretty much just perfect (and more), so our life together was just astonishing. And thus a very hard act to follow.
But I’m not only solidly hopeful of future love, I’m fully convinced of its inevitable eventuality. Meanwhile, naturally, it’s sometimes excruciating. Sometimes just amazingly, exhaustingly boring.
Ha!—strangely oxymoronic but true: conditions can be so boring they become amazingly so!
Among so much else, this all means I have a certain resonance with the widow who recently posted the blog comment quoted above. Her post had also related that several people she knew had felt free to comment unfavorably on her own “behavior” following the death of her husband! I assume this refers to her personal involvement in post-bereavement dating. Some people are just inexcusably rude!
Snarky judgment of my post-widowered “behavior” hasn’t been a problem in my own life. Sure, I’ve fielded some strange & sometimes surprisingly callow comments, but not of that precise category. The overwhelming majority of comments on my own widowerhood have been sincerely sympathetic, appreciably empathetic. And I am grateful. And then, many times, folks just don’t know what to say, or how to express their kindly sad feelings. I’ve never known what to say in such cases either, even now! Just, “I’m so sorry for your troubles.” And, “Thank you so much.”
As to my own post-bereavement dating, my Beloved had earlier made me firmly promise that I would not linger in grief or postpone or avoid beginning to meet and mingle with people, had made me promise to stay fully open to life, and to begin to date and to love again without hesitancy or inhibition.
Most of the time I don’t write much about the really intimate private aspects of my own life, including my own love-life past or present. (And I’m not really going to now, either.) Sure, I sometimes relate little anecdotes here and there, but I never or perhaps almost never go into what life is really like for me romantically. I wouldn’t know how to begin to discuss such things.
Somewhat along these lines, however, just in the last two or three days I’ve been asked again a few times by various friends and acquaintances, “So, are you dating now? Seeing anyone these days?”
Answer: Yes, I do occasionally date nowadays,—when there’s a sufficient mutual interest of that sort. But No, I’m not “seeing anyone” in particular—i.e. not seeing any one special woman in any steady or exclusive way at this time.
Just the other night, that response prompted a new woman friend to say “So, then, you’re playing the field ?—I should have guessed, you seem like such a player!” She delivered this with a somewhat teasingly mischievous/ ironic smile & chuckle. In part, it was meant as a kind of compliment. Sort of. And all in good fun, of course. But, as I assured her, that’s actually just so much the opposite of where I’m at & where I’ve always come from with regard to dating and relationships.
In truth, compared to “merely” dating, I’ve always vastly preferred the deep, one-on-one romance of holistic life-partnership (as in marriage, whether publicly declared & registered or not). That kind of all-in Solid Love remains my undiminished ideal. So, while dating, I’m also waiting. For romantic Deep Significance. Open to what comes, meanwhile. Dating a little bit now, yes, but so far not yet going steady…or more. When things change significantly on that front, I’ll be sure to let you know. Eventually. Probably first just savour it silently for a while, of course.
As to the new widow finding that all her activities “are now completely changed” and that she doesn’t want to do the same things as they all “are now too painful or hollow or both”—I know exactly what she means, naturally. But with time, I’ve found, the experience of the too painful-&/or-hollowness of long-familiar activities shifts and one’s saturation in the Wholeness of Life again predominates one’s awareness & perception, redeeming the potentiality (and now once again the actuality) of finding pleasure and joy anew in many long-familiar activities. And new activities now continue to add themselves to the mix.
^^^ ^^^ ^^^