Elizabeth Postle, author of this website, discusses this common situation.
Friends, family and colleagues often do not want to bring up the topic of your loss in case they upset you and many people find themselves with no-one to talk to about their grief. Having someone close to share the pathways of grief is a huge comfort and support.
Seeing near relatives of our spouses and getting to know them well after a loss is not uncommon. We may already know them fairly well, and the loss brings people even closer together. When that person also had a close relationship with the loved one who died and is also grieving, it makes the journey easier as you have someone who really understands what you are going through. When you do have this support, it is quite common for a close friendship to develop and even lead to romance.
When someone has lost a close companion the loss is tremendous. It takes time to believe the loss has happened. Then there is a feeling of shock and guilt again that they are having romantic feelings for another person.
Guilty feelings usually creep in. There is often shock that you can have deep feelings for someone else when grieving for the loss of a loved one. You never forget the relationship you had, but your life goes on and somehow you must cope.
Sometimes the children or parents of the person who died, get upset and say you can't have loved them as much as they did, but you know how untrue this is. Other relatives of the deceased spouse can sometimes be offended by the new romance and feel their son or daughter, niece or nephew was not loved as they should have been and forgotten too soon.
People are surprised when they fall in love again. Sometimes they are confused, but then realise that it is possible to love two people at the same time and it is possible to move from despair to new feelings of motivation and hope even while still going through the grieving process.
It’s common to have doubts and feelings that perhaps it is a rebound reaction. There may be anxiety about how real it is and how the family and children will react to this new situation. Life is full of emotional turmoil and especially so after a loss of a loved one.
Despite all this uncertainty many are reluctant to discuss their feelings and this is not a helpful strategy.
Talking to a trusted friend can help but men, in particular, do tend to hide their feelings. It is important to talk to children and family about their emotions too.
Clear the air and focus on what is the best for everyone. With discussions about how the beloved lost one will never be forgotten or replaced, and how this new relationship will not change the love felt for the partner who was lost, these issues can be resolved with tact and compassion.
No one ever said life was easy and new relationships during the grieving process especially where there are teenage children can cause emotional problems. Younger children who may have already known the new partner tend to be more accepting. Teenagers are not only going through their own gef and missing the lost parent, but coming to terms with their own maturity and sexuality.
New couples can expect many emotional scenes if there are teens involved. They feel threatened by the new relationship and feel that their parent is being betrayed. The teenage years are difficult. Added to this they are also experiencing the roller coaster of emotions due to grief. Empathy and support is essential. This situation, if handled with care and understanding, will pass with time.
How relationships begin and how long they last is such a complex process but if it begins with couples giving emotional comfort and support to each other during the grieving process then the reality is, it is a good start.
We like to have this support from a partner. Can it last? From meeting many couples over the years who have been in this situation the answer is, yes, it certainly can and does. This situation is more common than many people realise. People know instinctively if the relationship is good and everyone deserves a second chance.
Finding a loving partner is a precious thing and many people are not lucky enough to find this in life. It is a new start and many find feelings of confidence and self esteem again. All life has its problems. A loving couple working together, can overcome the slings and arrows of life's misfortunes better together.
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