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.
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:
I gave myself a year 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. I then downloaded dating apps and those are just depressing, but what else can you do. It’s been a whole different experience dating as a single mom in my 30’s compared to dating in my 20’s. I really have only been on a couple dates and thats about it.
As many of you know I’m moving out on my own. You can read more about why I’m moving HERE. I think that will help me start to date more once I’m living on my own. We will see what this new journey brings. Everything is new and I’m just trying to navigate as I go.
Thank you for sharing this Jenn, I can totally relate to it cause I am in the same headspace….
All these exact thoughts go through my head too, the feeling of loneliness it’s just unbearable.
But then again life must gone and we have to keep moving forward.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I hope God strengthens you and makes you a wonderful parent to your boys.
I can relate to this. Just over a year ago, I lost my husband suddenly and so soon after our wedding.
At first, I couldn’t even think about loving anyone else or even thinking about the potential of that happening in the future. It felt like I was cheating on my late husband.
I know he would’ve wanted me to be happy and not to spend the rest of my life alone. The feeling of emptiness and loneliness is so great but I’ve come to realise that life goes on and we just learn to cope.
Being in my late 20s, I still have so much life to live (hopefully). I’m just going to live in the now, coping with my grief and hoping for better days ahead. No rush – just take each day as it comes.
Thank you for this!
This was really beautifully said , could never imagine the grief that happened , stay strong ❤️
That was a beautiful post …. I lost my husband in four hours.. unexpectedly… no time to even say goodbye… anyway cut long story short… my son and I managed. Grief is wicked …… it was always there…. and it always will be…. I swore I would never get married again or even date…. but the years went by…. my son went to University…. I dated a bit when he was away it’s not easy getting back into dating…. but I didn’t want to get married … so didn’t care. But there are minefields out there…. I was very naive as I had a wonderful husband… faithful and true…. I was shocked when I found out how many guys cheat on their wives. So fast forward to 4 years ago and I was visiting my gf with another gf and another gf set us up on a blind date. I told my gf I’m not interested so you go for it….. cut another long story short …she did…. I hung back… drinking my wine checking my phone.. then she was gone… so I ended up talking to the blind date… he had lost his wife… no children… I thought how sad…. so we talked for hours…. then we went out next night and …. yes he turned out to be as kind and loving .. thoughtful and generous as my husband was….. and my son Jason and I come as a package…. remember that…. they get on so well I know it’s meant to be. We also all have a very strong faith and believe in Our God. I realized how lonely I had become …. so with the support of my son here I am in a relationship. I vowed I would never be…. but obviously God had a different plan for me….. with much love ❤️ to all of you Sue x
My brother died young, at 30 in a motorcycle accident, and I don’t think people understand how hurtful it is for the family when people constantly talk to the spouse about moving on or making a new life. You don’t move on, you go on. Especially when there are children involved, it can also be scary for the family of the deceased because what will that mean??
You are in the right place mentally, God give you the strength to heal,and when the time is right, someone may walk right in and your heart will open again…lots of love, daisy, Iam a believer in God and psychologist too,so this is scientific:)
Wendy McLean Windley says
Widow x2 here, I absolutely agree with your statement that the mourning begins at diagnosis. Like you my mind skipped from cancer straight to death, yet my heart refused to believe it possible. I didn’t have very long, 1 year from diagnosis with husband 1 and 5 months with husband 2. Even a person without anxiety becomes anxious, and to this day I carry a fair amount of anxiety still. Grief is a lifelong journey, remarriage doesn’t make grief go away…you can’t, we can’t..leave that person, those feelings, memories behind. I’ve been married to husband 3 now for 17 years, yet husband 1 and 2 have a reserved spot in my heart that can be filled by no one else. I’ve carried grief in a well packed suitcase, there are days I open the suitcase and sort through my grief, there are days when the weight of the suitcase seems crushing. Through it all though love abounds and I pray you are blessed to be loved again and to love again, not because you need it, not because it will make things like they were, but because you deserve to be loved, and to love another. I firmly believe God has already chosen this person and prepared their heart for you. When the timing is right, you will absolutely know it. – Wendy
Hey Jennifer, I’m so glad and impressed you are doing the best to your boys and I have not seen a single picture of yours with any sadness. That’s really strength, you are one strong woman. It ain’t easy. I started following you couple of months ago and when I read your story and saw Justin and your pictures, it broke my heart. You both compliment each other in so many ways, made for each other. I lost my mum to cancer. Its been 11 years and the hurt is still fresh. I will only pray for you and your boys and whenever is the right time may the right person come into your life. All strength and love to you.
This!!! When you said “married to a ghost”, I could relate so much. I tried explaining it to my kiddos. It’s like when you have one child and you fall so in love, you wonder – how could I ever love TWO children? And you somehow manage. The loneliness of widowhood is real. Some days it’s so LOUD. Loud because you want to share the hugest of highs with your partner. The lowest of lows because it would be nice to lean on someone.
Thanks for writing this.
Hi Iennifer, you are an inspiration to me… to make my long story short, my husband died when I was 36 and I had a 6 year old, 3 year old a d almost 2 year old. Like you, I didn’t feel the need to find someone, for all kinds of reasons. My main goal was to raise three productive kids into great adults! Tnhis was back in late 2000. Fast forward 21 years, I never remarried, 3 kids kept me crazy busy and I now have 3 successful adults. Maybe now it’s my turn but I definitely would have done nothing different in raising my kids they way “we” always talked about. I have had plenty of great family and friends close to us, and I think I am too strong headed as a mom to let anyone else have a say in how I was raising my kids. LOL! I made it work for us and I think when we decided to have 3 kids, they were and will always be the priority. I don’t feel like I have missed out on anything… would it be nice to go to dinner or a movie with a guy? SURE! But I never wanted to feel like I needed someone to pick up the pieces for me. I wanted to make sure my kids were good throughout all of their years… you will be surprised along the way how their grief pops up in all different times, even when they didn’t know their dad. My two youngest have no memory of their dad, but as they grew up, grief became a part of their lives too. I felt like I was on call everyday to make sure they were ok. I’m in a good place right now and two out of the three have moved out! I do things for me now, and maybe someone new will come along, but I’m ok if it doesn’t happen. I’m happy and content. I will continue to follow your story! Your boys are beautiful❤️
Michelle Breeden says
Thank you for this post. I lost my husband sudden 2 months ago and we have a now 4yr old.. i have been in shock at the many individuals that have suggested to me about when I start dating or I need to keep an open mind for my son to have a new father. It can destroy you and send you into a rage at the same time. It literally makes me even more afraid to speak to the a man because I feel that everyone will think it am ready for that- so I question myself am I already given off some vibe, which then destroys me to my core.
I really appreciate your view and appreciate yours words. I had to firmly tell someone the other day that my son has a father and no one can replace him.
Thank you for being so vulnerable with your grief.
Mona Leopard says
I ve been following u for months. You r awesome. I m much older than u and I ve been married for 43 years to my soulmate. He was diagnosed with lung cancer one year ago. We re taking Keytruda to every 3 weeks. I say “we” because I’m by his side every step of the way. I found it so comforting to know u and others feel the same as I do. I started planning for his death the day he was diagnosed. I didn’t tell my adult children because I have to stay optimistic for them and grandchildren. My therapist calls it anticipatory anxiety. I m told I should enjoy and cherish every moment with him. How do I do this with a huge black cloud over my head? I should enjoy this holiday season but I just can t because I think with sadness it’s our last. God has blessed me and I m grateful but still hurt and grieve him while he s still alive. Crazy huh? Thanks for sharing ur story. Boys r adorable. ❤️
“Married to a ghost” really struck out to me. My husband (Feb 27th 2021) has been recovering from an almost fatal motorcycle accident that happened on his way to work. (July 1st 2021)
I can’t stop finding my mind wondering to what and where we would have been if he had never been in the accident. There has been a change in character and memory, and I was just a nurse, housemaid, mother to him and my daughter for 3 months while he was out of work recovering. It definitely changed our marriage and I think often of how we were before. We were very happy and I was content for the first time in my life. It had been a whirlwind up until we met. Now I wonder how our marriage would be if we hadn’t gone through the trauma of the accident/recovery. And there’s also a ghost that feels like it sits in the back of my throat sometimes as I realize that today would be 6 months since his death. He came very close and I screamed at night for weeks for God to not take the only good thing in my life from us. As thankful as I am that he didn’t, I still wonder what it would be like because it feels like a little sliver of the man I knew did die that morning and I can’t stop from grieving him while I drive alone at night or when certain songs come on. It’s a strong tie to trauma and I wish I could let it go. Hence “Married to a ghost”
I also really admire and appreciate your strength Jenn. ❤️
Thank you, Jen, for being so candid. I started dating an old acquaintance after my husband of 24 years died. I only waited a few months before putting myself out there but you made me realize I was probably looking for a fix. I wanted to fill a hole. It has been hard to not compare them and feel let down in some ways. Jon, my husband, had flaws, so does Brad. I know I would not be this serious about Brad if it didn’t feel like having Jon before cancer. I feel guilty for loving brad as much as I do some days, yet incredibly grateful to have found him and love again. I was 43 when Jon died. He would have wanted me to love someone and never be lonely.
Roberta Aparecida de Oliveira says
Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
I lost my husband last year for cancer and I feel exactly as you.
Thank you again 💓