Love after Loss. I get asked this question often when I do my Q&A’s on my instagram. So I thought I would answer here on my blog so I can just reference people here.
When I started my blog a couple years ago I hoped that what I shared would help others. I knew that in order to really help I would have to be open and honest. I don’t share everything in my life, but I do share a lot and I’m okay with that. There were many dark times where I wondered how it would be possible to keep going, but I found other widows and what they said helped me in some small way. I hope to be that person for someone else.
Table of Contents
Love after Loss (The beginning)
I feel like I need to start at the beginning to help people understand where I’m coming from. When Justin was first diagnosed with cancer my anxiety took full control. I’ve dealt with anxiety since I was a kid, but after Justin was diagnosed it went through the roof. With my anxiety I tend to go to worse case scenario and believe that will happen. I heard the word cancer and quickly assumed he was going to die. Losing my husband was worst possible thing that could happen. It was extremely hard to stay hopeful when my anxiety was in control.
I didn’t realize I was doing this in the moment, but I was slowly mourning him since the day he was diagnosed. I’m not sure how much of that was anxiety or just the reality of cancer, but the possibility of him dying was real and that was extremely hard to face. We tried so hard to be faithful and stay positive, but it was almost impossible to keep those thoughts from coming to my mind.
During the years he battled cancer the “what if” question entered my mind numerous times. “What do I do if he dies?” I know that some couples causally talk about the topic of dating after death, but this was real for us. It wasn’t just a hypothetical conversation, it could actually happen. It was too real and because of that we never truly had the conversation. If the conversation ever started I quickly ended it. It was too painful and hard to talk about. I didn’t want to believe it could ever happen.
The point in sharing this is to say I have been thinking about this for a very long time. It wasn’t as if life was normal and then one day he died. With cancer the possibility is there and you think about these types of things during the whole cancer process. You truly start mourning them the day they are diagnosed and you start to think through all the “what if’s.” Even though Justin died less than three years ago I’ve been thinking about this for the last 8 years since he was diagnosed. The possibility was always there and I had to face it long before he died.
Am I open to Love after Loss?
Am I open to love again? I’m so young and it seems so sad and lonely to think of a life without love again. If I had died and Justin lived I would want him to find love again. It would be such a lonely life and I wouldn’t have wanted that for him. Even though we never really talked about it, I know he would have wanted the same for me.
If I do find love again great and if I don’t, also great. I’m trying to learn to be happy in the now. I’m open to it, but I don’t need it. Some people think if a widow gets remarried their grief suddenly goes away and they are no longer sad. My happiness is not dependent on love again. My grief will not magically disappear and life can go back to the way things were. My life will never go back to the way it was. Grief will be with me forever.
I understand that people come from a good place when they try to set me up or want me to date again. They care about me, but like I was saying before, finding love again won’t magically make all my sadness go away. I hope they want that for me because I’m ready for it, not because they want things to go back to normal.
As of right now I’m content and trying to be happy in the now. I’m lucky I was able to experience love at least once in my life. Some people never get to experience true love. I’m learning to be okay with the possibility I might not find love again.
I’m trying to live my life and keep moving forward. I want to create a life someone could enter and add to it. I don’t want to get in the mindset of thinking that someone will come and fix everything. There is no fixing, but only adding. No one can ever replace Justin and that is why grief will always be with me, even if I do find love again. I’ll always miss him and no one will ever be him. I’m stuck with grief for life.
I wish he was here and I didn’t have to deal with this. I never thought I would be a single mom thinking about dating again in my 30’s. It’s extremely hard because I never wanted my marriage to end. I was very happy and Justin and I had a great marriage. It’s hard to move on from something I never wanted to end. At times I still feel like I’m married to a ghost. I miss him so much and still wish I could be with him. I’m in a one sided marriage. I have one foot in and one foot out. Its extremely hard navigating all those emotions.
What I do know is that I miss having a companion, a friend to share my life with. It can be extremely lonely. It’s even harder now because I have experienced how great it can be. Knowing that makes the pain and loneliness that much harder. Life without love again sounds lonely and I hope that doesn’t happen, but I’m also learning to be okay if it does. I’m trying so hard to be happen in the now. I’m open to it, but I don’t need it.
Update on dating now (2023):
I gave myself a year after Justin died before I even thought about dating. I’m glad I did that because the pressure was gone and I could process things during that year. After that first year I was pretty hopeful about dating and I downloaded the dating apps. Most of my widow friends got remarried quickly by getting set up by someone and I naively thought that was going to happen to me. It didn’t… so I would browse the apps, but never really did anything on them. I was also living with my parents and had one year old twins, I just wasn’t in a place to be dating.
The apps are all new to me and its so strange/depressing. Most of the dates I’ve been on have been through dating apps, but its just not working out for me. I try, but I just don’t think finding my person will happen through dating apps. I still look at them occasionally, but its just hard.
It’s been a whole different experience dating as a single mom in my 30’s compared to dating in my 20’s. It has been extremely overwhelming trying to balance dating life with single mom life. I’m not a single parent, I’m an only parent. If I do get a night off to myself I can’t find the energy or desire to go out. I’m truly just exhausted!
I heard this on a podcast recently and I loved it. “Any female in the world can have a boyfriend if they wanted to. I don’t want a boyfriend, I want my person” I know what it feels like to be unconditionally loved by someone and I will never settle because I’m lonely. It’s also not just about me anymore, I have two boys that I have to think about when I’m dating. I will wait forever to have that kind of love again for my boys and I. I know that can be hard for some people to understand. Society tells us that in order to be happy we need a partner, but my happiness is not tied to a person. Yes I can be lonely at times, but that doesn’t control my overall happiness.
One last thing I want to share about the topic of dating. I’m not going to let society tell me that there is a timeline on dating. I can date whenever I want in my journey of life. What I can’t do is get back time with my 5 year old twins again. I always wanted to be a mom and after Justin died that was one thing I was able to keep doing. He gave that to me so I could continue living. I don’t ever want to look back and regret missing out on those years with them because I was going on hundreds of first dates. I’m loving my little family and life with my boys right now. I’m open to dating and I’m still on the apps, its just not my priority. My priority is being a mom!