November 7, 2018 Brigitte Ganger

Do You Believe in Love After Loss?

Finding love again after losing your partner

Do You Believe in Love After Loss?
It's hard to form new connections after losing a spouse. When is too soon to start dating again after the loss of a partner? (Shutterstock)

How do you know when you're ready to look for love? After losing a spouse, there are no clear answers about how soon is too soon to search for new companionship. 


People who have lost a spouse face a unique set of grief obstacles. Typically, people expect to grow old with their partners, and hope to die at around the same time. But death can come at any time, and when someone loses their partner at an unexpected time, it can be difficult to begin to fathom dating again—never mind falling in love with a new partner. 


Losing your future


A death can rob you of your aspirations and hopes for the future. This is never more prevalent than in the case of an unexpected, premature death. When it's your spouse, you simultaneously lose the person with whom you share responsibilities, as well as the future you envisioned. Those responsibilities shift to become yours alone, and your future looks more uncertain than ever. You will miss their personality and presence in your life, as well as the parts of your identity that the relationship empowered. 


After losing so much, it's normal to be confused about when to look for love again, and question whether finding love again is even possible.


Timing 


Craving intimacy and companionship is completely normal, and may even be heightened, during bereavement. Depending on how you cope with grief, making a new connection can be exhausting or invigorating, an affirmation of life or a betrayal. 


Almost everyone has opinion on how and when people should go about finding love after losing a spouse. Some people believe moving on within the first few months of the death of a partner is disrespectful to the relationship. Others might encourage you to move on sooner. And even if the loved ones in your life aren't vocal about the timing, you might feel held back by your own biases in this regard. 


When's too soon?


It's too soon to date after the death of a partner when you feel it is too soon. If the idea of arranging a date with someone new is overwhelming or repulsive to you, it's not the right time. It doesn't matter if it's been one year or twenty. You should never feel pressure to find a new mate if you don't want to. It might even be years before you feel ready to pursue love again. 


You should not put pressure on yourself to 'get back out there' too soon, or feel shame if you are ready within months or years of a loss. The grief process looks different for everyone.


But if you believe you are ready, it's good to start allowing connections with new people into your life. New people, hobbies and routines will help you move on from the past with a fresh mindset. 


It's not always that easy


There are many reasons people who've lost a partner have difficulty finding love again. 


You might:




  • Lack recent experience




Depending on the relationship history, it may be quite some time since the last time you fell in love. You might be ready for companionship, but unsure of how to proceed simply because it has been so long. Often this lack of experience dating is a large obstacle for those who are wishing to meet a new partner as a widow or widower. Some would rather stay single than try to resume dating, and that's a fair choice. But, if you're interested in finding companionship again, don't let your lack of confidence in dating hold you back. 




  • Have doubts




Even if you do manage to meet someone who you like, how long with it be before they are taken from you too? As you know, life is not guaranteed. The idea of bringing someone new into your life might remind you that the people you love can be taken away suddenly. It might not seem worth the trouble.




  • Not know where to start




Like any single, finding a new partnership with someone means you have to pursue connection with others. Participate in new and old hobbies, talk to the people you meet, attend social events and live your life with an open heart. When you meet somebody interesting, get their details and spend time together again. It's possible to build new connections while still missing your partner.  




  • Have natural urges for intimacy and companionship




Most people crave intimacy, and that doesn't stop just because a loved one dies. As natural as the urge for partnership is, finding new love can feel like you're replacing your deceased partner. When you're grieving the loss of a partner, your natural urge for companionship might conflict with your grief feelings, which can be complicated and guilt-inducing for many people. This is because you...




  • Still love your deceased partner 




When someone dies, only their physical body ceases to be with us on earth. Once the funeral is over, their impact on those they love continues for as long as they are remembered. It's natural to continue loving someone, even if they have passed away. Feeling loyalty to a dead person is another natural, if not slightly eerie, state of grief. As you are more and more able to move on with your grief, you will find positive ways to bring your past into your new future. Whether or not that includes finding new love is up to you. 


Do you believe?


It may be incredibly difficult to even imagine finding love again, after losing your partner, but it is possible. Don't rush your grief process. As time marches on, and you begin to build a new life that no longer includes your loved one, you may begin to imagine sharing that life with someone special. If or when this occurs, you will know that you are ready to find new love. 

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