After years of suffering my spouse, my partner, my love finally died. My heart was shattered. I hardly knew where to look to start picking up the broken parts. I had no clue how to put any of it back together – much less how to start over with someone new – dating after death.
Within two short weeks I forced myself to venture out and visit with some friends. I had hardly settled onto the sofa when their 6 year old started in with, “So, do you think you’ll marry soon?” Apparently, his parents had been openly discussing my future. They were mortified. I wanted to crawl under the carpet and disappear. That visit didn’t last long. The truth is I wondered the same thing – would I marry again? How soon? What would that even look like?
Like a massive flood, grief burst its banks and tore through my life with unexpected, incredible force. It poured itself into every crevice of my life and left nothing untouched by the devastation. I was up to my chin in uncharted waters and wreckage that continually threatened to cover me whole and take me down.
I ached to be seen and heard and embraced and loved again. But, I had a whole lot of recovering to do before this could happen in a healthy way. Through close friendships and counseling I was able to see some things about myself and my circumstances.
Someone who had been through what I was in the middle of gave me this advice: “Just do the next thing.” This simple piece of wisdom has become one of my favorite go-to rules in life. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed I can do absolutely nothing (p.s. sometimes it’s ok to just do nothing). Everything we do requires steps. But, sometimes I am so overwhelmed that I need to break them down in order to make a move at all. If I just do the next thing, from brushing my teeth to grocery shopping, I can step a little farther into living again.
One of the ‘next steps’ I needed to take was to get help. I found this through professional counseling and with trusted friends. I learned I was extremely vulnerable. And, like someone recovering from a destructive flood, I had massive needs that no one person could fill. I hadn’t laughed in years. I needed safe companionship.
I needed to feel normal, whatever that was. Finding a ‘new normal’ (how I hate all the grief talk) is easier when you do dating after death with people who have faced similar loss. It cannot be understood by those who haven’t had to face it. By spending time with like-hearted people I am able to find common ground and get my own bearings.
*Whatever it is, take the next step.
*Find people who understand you.
*Keep trying to be healthy, inside and out.