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Love Lost: When Is It Time to Move On?

Loneliness often raises questions about whether it is possible, or even advisable, to move forward and find another partner. This decision is highly personal and unique to each individuals grief journey.

Losing a spouse or partner is a harrowing experience. As an old German proverb states, "The death of a friend is equivalent to the loss of a limb." If true, how much more intense is the pain after losing a life partner? The grief that follows is overwhelming, and it's important to acknowledge the emotional weight that comes with it. At Afterall, we understand the deep pain that accompanies such a loss. 

Broken Hearts Can Be Deadly

A Harvard School of Public Health research study discovered a phenomenon known as the "widowhood effect," which affects both genders. The study reveals an increased chance of dying after losing a spouse, with the highest risk within the first three months after their passing – at a staggering 66 percent. This statistic highlights the profound impact that the death of a spouse or partner can have on an individual's overall well-being.

Broken heart syndrome is an actual medical condition. According to the Cleveland Clinic, an individual suffering from intense grief has symptoms similar to a heart attack. Unlike a heart attack caused by blocked arteries, broken heart syndrome is triggered by extreme emotional changes. Most sufferers make a full and fast recovery, but in rare cases, a person dies from a broken heart. 

When a Couple Becomes a Single, Loneliness Creeps In

Navigating life after losing a loved one can be particularly challenging during certain times of the year. The winter holidays and Valentine’s Day, in particular, serve as a painful reminder of their absence. It's during moments like these that the feelings of intense loneliness can become overwhelming.

Loneliness often raises questions about whether it is possible, or even advisable, to move forward and find another partner. This decision is highly personal and unique to each individual's grief journey. Notably, men tend to remarry more frequently and sooner than their female counterparts. However, some grief experts recommend waiting at least one year before making significant life-changing decisions, such as getting remarried or selling a home.

To Date or Not To Date Is Up to You

Ultimately, the most critical factor to consider is your readiness and the state of your heart. While you might always miss and love your late spouse, it's crucial to determine whether your heart has healed enough to welcome a new love. If you haven't fully recovered from your loss, overwhelming feelings of grief and sadness may hinder your ability to find happiness with a new partner. On the other hand, pursuing a new relationship solely as a distraction from pain is not a solid foundation for a fulfilling future and may impede your healing process.

While the decision to start a new relationship after the death of a spouse or partner is an individual one, seeking the counsel of trusted family members, friends, or grief counselors can provide valuable insights. Those closest to us often have unique perspectives on our grief journey. However, it is essential to tread carefully, especially when children are involved. If you and your spouse had any, children may feel protective of their parent's memory and may not be ready to see you move on entirely.

Be True to Yourself, Whether Single or Not

It is crucial to remember that the choice of beginning another relationship or embracing a life of solitude is yours alone. If you do not want to pursue a new relationship, that is more than okay! Well-meaning friends and family members may express concerns about your loneliness or perceived lack of healing if you choose to remain single. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. Many individuals find meaning and purpose in their remaining years through friendships, relationships with family and grandchildren, and civic or religious activities.

At Afterall, we want you to know that our caring team is here for you throughout your grief journey, whether that's two weeks after your loved one's funeral service or two years. Our partners can connect you to local support groups and counseling services to help you process your emotions. Find a nearby Afterall location here. These resources may help you gain clarity and determine the right time to consider moving forward. Remember, you have the power to take control of your healing process. Reach out to us or access our online grief resources to get started.

For helpful tips on how to handle belongings after a death, take a look at our article Cherished Items & Tough Choices: What to Do with Belongings After a Death.