No one wants to think about the loss of a loved one. But with Valentine's Day in mind, it is important to consider those who have lost their spouses far too soon. There is no perfect time to become a widow or widower but many associate the death of a spouse with old age. The truth is that many lose their spouses before reaching old age and that loss can face different and unexpected challenges for those who find themselves without their partners by their side.
One of the biggest differences in losing a spouse young versus losing a spouse later on in life is oftentimes how to help young children cope with the loss of a parent and the potential of dating, marriage or even a blended family with children. There is no ideal time to start dating again after the loss of a spouse: take your time. For some it may be a few months, for others it may be a few years. Be honest with yourself and your children if such a topic would arise. Depending on the age of your child or their emotional maturity, you may be able to have such conversations early in your foray into dating. Explain that no one will ever be able to replace your child's mother or father and that your heart is full enough to love them just as much as they may love the person you start dating or any family that may be blended if things progress well and further. There are plenty of resources available to helping young children and teens going through loss like books, therapeutic games and activities, journals and coloring books that can help children and young teens express their feelings surrounding loss, new people entering their lives and the uncertainty that new relationships and dynamics can bring with them.
Consider a support group or therapy for those who have also lost spouses relatively young. Finding support from others can be a vitally important part of one's grief journey: knowing that you are not alone is key and the compassion and care from others can help you feel less isolated by loss. A licensed therapist who specializes in grief can help provide you with tangible coping mechanisms to help you through your grief journey: there is no shame in seeking professional help during a season of grief, be sure to get the help you need.
With Valentine's day approaching, be kind to yourself. You may choose to spend the day alone, with friends, with family or on a date: whichever helps you move through your grief journey with grace.
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