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When you experience the death of your spouse, it’s natural to feel the effects of that loss manifesting in loneliness and the need for human companionship, especially if the loss is sudden. Seeking love and attention in another person may help fill in the hole that your spouse left behind when they died.
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Jump ahead to these sections:
- How Long Should You Wait?
- What to Consider Before You Start Dating After Your Spouse Dies
For some people who’ve experienced this type of loss, they may have suffered through their spouse battling a long illness, and they may now be ready to find love again after fulfilling their obligation to them.
The reasons are many, personal, and as unique as each individual. Judging someone else’s motivations for seeking love and companionship is easy when you’re looking from the outside in.
Tip: Grief and loss are complicated. If you're dealing with the death of a spouse, our post-loss checklist may just be able to help answer some of your questions.
How Long Should You Wait?
Many widows and widowers want to know how long after a spouse dies is if it's OK to date.
There are no hard rules or timelines for how long you should wait before starting to date again. It is expected that some of your loved ones may offer their opinions and advice on everything from dating, to what you should do with your wedding ring.
These views are usually based on cultural and religious upbringing regarding marriage and widowhood. Their opinions may not always align with your views. Consider that they’re coming from a place of love and concern, but only you know what’s best for you in this situation.
What to Consider Before You Start Dating After Your Spouse Dies
Several factors come into play when you consider whether you're ready to start dating again. Consider your emotional vulnerability and whether you’re ready to embark on a new relationship. If you're considering dating on a more casual basis, it’s always good practice to let the other person know before you start dating. Not every date will lead to a relationship, but the potential is always there. So it’s best to set the expectation from the onset.
Below are some other equally important things to take into consideration before you start dating:
1. Your need for companionship
After your spouse dies, you may find it difficult to accept that they’re no longer here. You may find yourself calling out to them expecting them to answer you or be there when you walk through the door. Loneliness can set in fairly quickly after processing their death.
After a certain period of mourning, your friends and family will slowly go about their normal routines. Their visits will become less and less, and you may find yourself spending many lonely days and nights. Dating after your spouse has died is one way to fill that void. But you may want to carefully consider what your motivations are prior to you starting to date again.
Tip: Try reading a book focused on the grief of surviving spouses. We recommend I'm Grieving as Fast as I Can by Linda Feinberg orThe Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.
2. You may still be grieving
There are several types of grief that affect widows and widowers after a spouse had died. Usually, your grief will be compounded by secondary losses that you may not have considered or felt after your loss.
For example, some secondary losses that you might experience are the loss of:
There are many other types of secondary losses that you may suffer. They may not become immediately known to you, but as time goes on, you may start to feel their effects. Knowing and accepting that you may still be grieving when deciding whether to date is important to both your emotional well-being as well as your partner’s.
Grief manifests in many different ways. Just when you think you’ve found love again, your grief may cause you to spiral into a deep depression for no apparent reason. This can happen on your husband’s death anniversary or your wife’s birthday. Your partner may not understand why this is happening to you and may feel that your love for them isn’t real. They may even find it too difficult to compete with your late spouse even when there isn’t any competition at play.
Having open and honest conversations is crucial to working through these emotional outbursts. Both of you should understand that it’s okay to grieve the loss of your spouse without diminishing your partner’s role in your life.
Just because you’re still grieving the loss of your spouse doesn’t mean that you don’t have room for or any more love to give to your partner. And, it also doesn’t mean that you’ve stopped loving your spouse who’s died.
3. 'Widow brain'
Experiencing the effects of “widow brain” after the death of your spouse is something to take into consideration when deciding whether you're ready to date. You’ll generally experience brain fog or mental confusion for at least three to six months following their death. During this time, it may be difficult for you to process or understand what’s happening around you.
Grief has the potential to manifest in many different ways, and this is one of the significant ways in which it affects you after losing your spouse. Widow brain is the state of mental confusion that you may find yourself in shortly after your spouse dies. It can manifest in minor ways like forgetting where you’ve placed your keys or forgetting how to start the lawnmower. Or, it can show up in larger ways, like the complete and total loss of your ability to function from day-to-day.
If you need to make important decisions, you should wait for at least one to two years following such a significant loss. This will give you sufficient time to process the death, go through the stages of grief, and regain some of your diminished cognitive capacities.
You might consider therapy or counseling. If so, read our guides on the best online therapy and counseling services, where we review popular services like Talkspace and BetterHelp.
4. You can love both
You may wonder if you’re dishonoring the memory of your spouse if you decide to move forward and start dating again. You may also wonder if you’re still married even after your spouse has died.
After the death of your spouse, you’re considered to be widowed. This means that you are someone who was married before and whose spouse has died. This title will help form your new identity as you move forward with your life.
It’s up to you whether you choose to tell someone you’re dating that you’re widowed. There may still be some stigma attached to the word widow or widower in the dating arena. People may be hesitant to become involved with a person who's recently lost their spouse because they may think that there’s no way for them to compete for their love. Others may think that widowed equals emotionally broken, and dating you might be more than what they are willing to handle.
But not everyone thinks that way. You’ll need to determine how to broach the subject when it comes up. It’s very much possible both to love your spouse who's died, and to fall in love all over again with someone else.
5. There is no timeline
No timeline determines when you’re ready to date again. Consider that love is a precious gift to have in your life. And, if you’re lucky enough to find it twice, there shouldn’t be a reason to deny yourself the feeling that comes with falling in love. The feel-good endorphins are a great way to ease the pain of your loss as you grieve over your spouse’s death.
Your friends and loved ones may have other thoughts and ideas about moving on so quickly after the death of your spouse, no matter how long you wait. This may be influenced by many factors including traditional mourning periods in their culture, their relationship to the deceased, and what they think is morally acceptable.
6. We’re meant to love and be loved
The human spirit thrives on love and being in love. When you experience love for the first time, you feel a surge of intense emotions such as happiness, joy, excitement, and nervousness. Serotonin and dopamine levels surge creating that feel-good feeling we experience when someone causes us to have butterflies in our stomach every time we see or hear from them.
As your relationship evolves, so will your feelings of love. Love begins to gradually shift from the newly-in-love type of feeling to one that is more comfortable and familiar. Most couples in long-term relationships will have seen their love transition from new love to comfortable love. Both are perfectly fine ways to express love and to be loved. Your needs and expectations become more fluid the longer you stay in a relationship with your partner.
When your spouse dies, you may experience the grief and sorrow of not only losing them, but also of losing out on the love that they provided to you. You may also experience the loss of having someone to love in return. Consider your emotional needs for love in deciding when it’s right for you to start dating again.
7. New love is healing
Finding someone to date after losing your spouse can be very healing for you as you suffer through your grief. Your partner can help ease the burden and pain of your suffering simply by being there through your emotional ups and downs in the coming months. You don’t need to explain to anyone why you need companionship in your life. You can keep your dating to yourself or find a good friend to confide in.
There are also several widow support groups out there where you can meet others dealing with a similar situation. It helps to share in your grief and experiences with others who understand where you are coming from.
Dating After Your Spouse Has Died
It’s good practice to live your life in a way that makes sense for you without seeking the approval of others. You’re the best person to decide when the time is right for you to start dating again after your spouse has died.
How soon is too soon to date after death of a spouse? ›
There is no "right or wrong" about when you'll be ready. Many people are ready months after the death of their partner, and for others, it takes years. The most important thing is that you have this conversation with yourself, and aren't trying to satisfy someone else's idea of when you're ready (or not).How do I start dating after my husband dies? ›
- Watch for red flags. It can be hard for a widow or widower to feel comfortable introducing a new partner to family and friends — or, for some, even to be seen in the community. ...
- Communicate your relationship needs and goals. ...
- Don't let yourself be a consolation prize. ...
- Tread lightly when it comes to children.
- They have stopped living in the past. The clear sign: They are ready to open their hearts and won't let old memories/ shrines come between you and them. ...
- They pursue you consistently. ...
- They can see a future with you.
On average, many people wait at least two years before considering remarriage. However, it is essential to remember that there is no set timeline, and you should only consider remarrying when you feel emotionally and mentally prepared. In conclusion, remarrying after losing a spouse is a deeply personal decision.Can you fall in love while grieving? ›
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.What are the red flags for dating a widow? ›
One major warning sign is if the widower is still grieving intensely or not ready to move on from their previous relationship. Another red flag is if they constantly compare you to their late spouse or refuse to let go of their belongings.What is widows fire? ›
/ˈwidō/ /ˈfī(ə)r/ A burning desire for sex following bereavement of a spouse or partner. The loss of TOUCH.How do widows deal with loneliness? ›
One of the first steps in combating loneliness is being around others who share some of the same interests as you. Try your best to pull yourself out of your grief enough to volunteer a weekend or two each month at a local charity or food bank to help those in need.How long is a widow's mourning period? ›
The standard grieving period can last anywhere from six to twelve months for it to cycle through. This applies to most cases of ordinary grief, with no additional complications coming into play.What are the three stages of widowhood? ›
Rehl divides widowhood into three distinct stages: Grief, Growth and Grace.
How quickly do widows move on? ›
The following is from a study of 350 widows and widowers, published by the National Institutes of Health: “By 25 months after the spouse's death, 61 percent of men and 19 percent of women were either remarried or involved in a new romance.Why do widows move on so quickly? ›
It's true that some widowed people do move on too fast, because they're in denial and don't want to face pain; such relationships often bear a cost. Still, even for those not in denial, finding a connection remains a huge human urge.Is a widower too soon to date? ›
There's no specific time period one should wait before dating again. Grieving and the process of moving on is something that's unique to each person. Some people take years, others weeks, and then there are those who choose never to date again.Should a widow wait at least a year before remarrying? ›
There's no rule or timeline when it comes to getting remarried following the death of your spouse. Like grief, the “right time” for everyone is different. For some, it may be a few weeks, and for others, it can be several years. You don't have to stop loving your deceased spouse in order to find love again.Can I have a new relationship and still love my partner who died? ›
The love for your lost partner will be ever present, but our human hearts are capable of unlimited love and have room for future relationships. No two relationships will ever be the same, neither will the love of your new partner be the same as for the person you lost. But you can be happy again.When a widower talks about his late wife? ›
Yes, it's normal for widowers to talk about the late wife and their life together. This need to talk about the late wife and their past life together often helps make the transition from the old to new life.How do you survive the death of your spouse? ›
- Take care of yourself. Grief can be hard on your health. ...
- Try to eat right. Some widowed people lose interest in cooking and eating. ...
- Talk with caring friends. ...
- Visit with members of your religious community. ...
- See your doctor.
- “God Must Have Needed a ___ In Heaven”
- “I Know How You Feel—My Mom Died”
- “Time Heals All Wounds”
- “That's What He Would Have Wanted”
- "Ask for Comfort for Your Grief"
- “I Don't Know How You're Doing It—You're So Strong”
- “You're Young, You'll Find Love Again”
One foolproof way to be a happier widow is to focus on what you can control (your money, your health, your core group) and let go of what you can't. Settling in with uncertainty allows you to let go of expectations of how things should be and embrace what is. No matter how pissed off you are.Are you still considered a widow? ›
How Long Are You Considered a Widow or Widower? A person can live out the rest of their lives under the title widow or widower as long as they do not remarry after the death of their spouse.
What does the Bible say about a widow? ›
1Tim. 5.  Honour widows that are widows indeed.  But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.What is most difficult widowhood? ›
The feel of Loneliness
Losing someone creates a gap of them in our lives. Similarly losing her spouse puts the widow into a position of loneliness. Even if the widow is always surrounded by the most loving and supportive people (friends & family) there'd still be times when she'd go through a mental state of isolation.
There is no right or wrong decision in this matter.” Continue wearing the ring. Many widows/widowers continue to wear their wedding ring until they feel ready to take it off. Some will continue to wear it forever.What is the average age of a widow in the United States? ›
There are 11.8 million widows in the U.S. and approximately 2,800 new widows are joining these ranks every day. The average age of widowhood in the U.S. is 59, according to a frequently cited figure attributed to the U.S. Census Bureau. And if COVID-19 continues, the ranks of younger widows could climb.What does the Bible say about lonely widows? ›
A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. He will cover you with His feathers. Under His wings you will find refuge.What does the Bible say about grieving widows? ›
The Defender of Widows
Fundamentally, God is the kind of God who keeps a careful eye on the widow. He is profoundly concerned for her, together with the stranger and the fatherless. He is righteous and protects them for he is “a father of the fatherless, a defender of widows . . . in his holy habitation,” (Psalm 68:5).
- What you need to do straight away after a death.
- Get a medical certificate.
- Register the death.
- Arrange the funeral.
- In the weeks following the death.
- Notify the person's landlord and other organisations.
- Notify government departments.
- Return the person's passport and driving licence.
Often the second year is the hardest as that's when the real grief work might begin. This is the time when you may be ready to face your grief head on and deal with any issues that are holding you back. If you're not ready yet though, don't feel guilty. There is no deadline and everyone grieves in their own time.What is the significance of the 9th day after death? ›
This is based on the traditional, pre-colonial belief that the spirit of the dead goes into the spirit world on the ninth day after dying. After nine days of prayer, there will be another service and a formal meal for the family and friends of the departed.What color represents mourning? ›
Black – Western World
Wearing dark colours for mourning has long been a tradition in many parts of the western world, in particular large parts of Europe and North America. The association of the colour black with death and loss is centuries old and is believed to have originated during Roman times.
What is the grace stage of widowhood? ›
Grace, also called “transformation” by some, is the final stage of widowhood. Kathleen begins by mentioning that at this point a widow may begin advanced financial planning, i.e. advanced estate planning. Becoming confident in her own independence, she may become involved in other efforts such as philanthropic giving.Do you wear your wedding ring after your spouse dies? ›
There is no rule that says you cannot wear your wedding ring after your spouse is deceased. If you feel more comfortable wearing it, then wear it. However, you may want to consider taking it off to fully move on with life. Your ring may serve as a reminder of your husband and your relationship.Will I ever be happy again after the death of my husband? ›
Until the intensity of your grief subsides, you can't expect to be truly happy again. Work through your guilt, extreme pain, extreme sadness, intense anger, and every other feeling and emotion. Often, reaching out to a grief counselor gives you a structure for doing this work.What to expect when dating a widow? ›
Dating a widow or widower may take patience, a willingness to embrace the spouse who has died, and a commitment to step gingerly when it comes to introductions to friends and family. And it's not right for everyone. The result, though, can be a positive, successful bond.Do most widows remarry? ›
About 2% of widows and 20% of widowers get remarried (Smith, Zick, & Duncan, 1991).What is the first stage of widowhood? ›
Stage One: Absorbing the Shock of Change
Many widows say they “feel dead inside” and “like nothing matters.” You might also feel paralyzed by your inability to handle even the ordinary financial tasks of your household.
When someone dies, you tend to focus mostly on all of their good qualities. All of a sudden, even the worst spouse suddenly becomes a saint in the widow's eyes. Some people feel that it's too much pressure dating a widow because it's hard to live up to that standard, and they fear being compared to their dead spouse.How long will I mourn my husband? ›
The sad image of a grieving widow may not be entirely accurate, according to a study published on Tuesday showing that six months after the death of their partner, nearly half of older people had few symptoms of grief.What percentage of widows never remarry? ›
Approximately 2% of older widows and 20% of older widowers ever remarry (Smith, Zick, & Duncan, 1991). The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that each year, out of every 1,000 wid- owed men and women ages 65 and older, only 3 women and 17 men remarry (Clarke, 1995).What percentage of widows date again? ›
One of the statistics Keogh cites is how within two years of becoming a widower, 61% of widowed men find themselves in a serious relationship or had remarried compared to only 19% of widows. Keogh writes, “widowers are eight times more likely to remarry over their lifetimes vs.
Can a widow collect both her and her husband's Social Security? ›
If your spouse dies, do you get both Social Security benefits? You cannot claim your deceased spouse's benefits in addition to your own retirement benefits. Social Security only will pay one—survivor or retirement. If you qualify for both survivor and retirement benefits, you will receive whichever amount is higher.Should you date after losing a spouse? ›
There is no definitive answer to how long someone should wait before dating after losing their spouse. Grief does not move along a predictable timeline as it is an extremely personal process. Only the bereaved spouse will truly know whether they are ready to start dating again.Why do widowers move on so quickly? ›
It's true that some widowed people do move on too fast, because they're in denial and don't want to face pain; such relationships often bear a cost. Still, even for those not in denial, finding a connection remains a huge human urge.Is it okay to date after your partner dies? ›
There is no specific time frame for dating after the loss of a spouse. We all grieve differently and must respect our own process. Some will decide never to be in another relationship.How long does it take a widower to grieve? ›
The standard grieving period can last anywhere from six to twelve months for it to cycle through. This applies to most cases of ordinary grief, with no additional complications coming into play.What is the average age of widowers? ›
Generally speaking, widows tend to be slightly older than widowers; the median age at widowhood in the US is approximately 72 years old for women, and approximately 64 years old for men. This age gap can be attributed to the fact that, in most cases, women tend to marry men who are several years older than them.What is the hardest part of losing spouse? ›
A common theme among people who have lost their spouse is the debilitating effects of feeling entirely alone and incomplete. The sense of feeling like you have lost an essential part of yourself is both painful and disconcerting. The world suddenly looks like a different place, often odd and distanced.Are widowers more likely to remarry? ›
However, men are more likely to remarry after losing their spouse; more than 60 percent of men but less than 20 percent of women are involved in a new romance or remarriage within two years of being widowed.What is the average grieving time? ›
There is no set length or duration for grief, and it may come and go in waves. However, according to 2020 research , people who experience common grief may experience improvements in symptoms after about 6 months, but the symptoms largely resolve in about 1 to 2 years.What is widower syndrome? ›
This phenomenon is often referred to as broken heart syndrome, the widowhood effect, or more technically, takotsubo cardiomyopathy. “Broken heart syndrome is a social condition that shows if your wife or husband dies, your mortality goes up and stays elevated for years. So you can almost 'catch' death from your spouse.
What percentage of widows marry again? ›
Results. Most repartnering after widowhood occurs within ten years of this event or not at all. Ten years after widowhood, about 7% of widows and 29% of widowers have formed a new union. For both widows and widowers, the rate of remarriage is twice as high as the rate of cohabitation.How do you survive when your partner dies? ›
- Take care of yourself. Grief can be hard on your health. ...
- Try to eat right. Some widowed people lose interest in cooking and eating. ...
- Talk with caring friends. ...
- Visit with members of your religious community. ...
- See your doctor.