Ask Mary: Feeling Guilty and Confused

I loved my late husband very much, but lately I’ve been thinking of dating again. I feel guilty and confused – what should I do?
Many people mistakenly believe that if we truly loved someone, then we will always grieve and never want to date again.  While this may be true for some, it is not true for everyone.
Life goes on they say, but how can it, how dare it without our loved one? To fully heal our hearts, we must give ourselves permission to be happy. Eventually, as our heart heals, we will still miss them, but the dominant feeling becomes the warmth of our memories.  More tragic than any death is to be half alive, as if our life ended with theirs.
When you’re hurting write out your feelings. Write out your wants, needs and wishes.
One way to work through your guilt above these feelings is to write a letter to yourself as if it were from your late husband. Put into words the support and understanding that he would give to you. Write another letter stating what you’re thankful for, and what you plan to do in the near future.  With these insights you can get in touch with your feelings.
We often become unbalanced by nurturing others before ourselves.  We are brought up with the idea that it is better to give than to receive and we forget to pay attention to our feelings, to be creative and to take time for ourselves.  We need to build up our self-esteem because we are important.
If in your past relationship you were the “giver” then you were usually responsible for everyone’s happiness. Before dating again, you need to become balanced in your giving and in receiving so you can receive as well as give.
Learn in time to grow through loneliness to the stage of “aloneness”, where you are comfortable being by yourself.  You choose to be home alone or to go out, but you don’t choose based on being lonely. Instead it’s based on what you want to do. When the time is right, you may choose to date, rather than needing to date to overcome loneliness.
We are 100% responsible for our reactions to the things people say and do. This is crucial, because if not, then you could settle for less than you deserve.  Loving again can fill us with joy, pierce our loneliness and bring us true happiness, but only if we choose wisely.
For more on dating and remarriage check out my “Dating Guide for Widows” on my website thesisterhoodofwidows.com, along with blog postings I’ve written on this subject.