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Q. After a storybook romance spanning 35 years of marriage and four children, I lost my wife to cancer almost a year ago.
I’m fortunate to be surrounded by great family and friends but miss female companionship. I have not actively pursued anyone, and am not sure where even to begin — or if I’m actually ready.
Any advice or insight would be appreciated!
A. I am so sorry for your loss. Thirty-five years and four children. What a life to celebrate.
I wouldn’t expect you to know if you’re ready to date — and that’s OK. Sometimes the only way to figure it out is to try. My advice is to get into a bereavement group so you can talk to others about how they’re taking next steps. Groups are weird; you can wind up with a perfect mix of people who understand you, or you can land with strangers who make you think, “Huh. These people are not at all like me!” But ... that gives you some information, too. At the very least, the activity shows you there are other people going through something similar. If you have trouble finding a group, you can reach out to your doctor, or even the people who treated your late wife. After my mom died, Mass General helped me find some good groups for myself.
Also, tell your friends — your daily check-in people — that you’re thinking about looking, and that you need their support. Get people used to the idea that someday you’ll find love. It might inspire them to think about who they know for you.
Last but not least — and this is a big step — maybe sit with one of those friends (someone fun) and make a dating profile on an app. Honestly, you don’t have to swipe on anyone or have big conversations. But … it’s interesting to see faces ... to see what people say about themselves, where they live, what they like. You can take it all in and get a sense of how people meet now.
If something feels good, great. If it doesn’t, you can stop the activity and watch a happy TV show (I will not stop recommending “Ted Lasso” for sad days). Find your own pace … and good luck.
Join groups (church, community, sports, etc.) There are lots of women of all ages in hiking and running groups. See if there’s anyone you like. I know someone who met their new mate in a widow/widower support group. Seriously, a widower in your age group is in high demand with single women. In my opinion, you won’t get a lot of rejections if you ask women out. I would avoid the dating apps. Make that a last resort.
If you’re not sure you’re ready to date yet, don’t. I would recommend putting yourself into a group where you’ll be around some women and get the proximity without the commitment. Volunteering, classes in art or history, physical activity, virtual or otherwise safely, will both help you with any shyness while letting you know what’s out there. Best of luck!
I’m sorry for your loss. We’re probably in a similar age bracket and I can tell you all my single friends actively date. Some are even getting remarried after lengthy first marriages. They met their partners mostly through word-of-mouth networking, letting friends and family know they wanted to date. If there’s a will there’s a way. But it’s up to you to take that first step; it sounds like you’re ready! Good luck.
My condolences. This can be a complex arena for you, women you may meet, and your children. There are many things to deal with — such as feelings of guilt that come up, perhaps a lack of warmth to the idea from relatives, etc. Take any friendship you may make slowly, and talk to a counselor (or look for an online forum for widowers) if you think it could be helpful.
“After a storybook romance spanning 35 years...” So many great movies have sequels. Why not you?
Send your own relationship and dating questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.