Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Reader's Question & Lintermans' Answer

I started dating an old high school friend almost a year ago. At that point his spouse of 30+ years had passed just 10 months before. I have tried to honor his feelings for her. He recently told me that he didn't know if he would ever again give his heart away. I feel that he is worth waiting for but at the same time it is difficult to constantly live in her shadow. --Posted by Anonymous to LOSS—GRIEVING—HEALING—LOVING at 9/12/2006 08:04:36 AM

Hello ...

Ten months is a very short period of time for bereavement. It takes about a year to a year and a half to work through the stages of loss. So at ten months, your friend could be feeling depression, anxiety, guilt and he is still grieving.

In order to embrace a new love and relationship, your "old high school friend" has to work through major issues in the stages of loss which include shock, denial, anger, depression, adjustment, integration and transition. It may well be too soon for him to know if "he can give his heart away again".

Try not to think of it as "living in her shadow" while giving him emotional space to complete his mourning. He may still have a need to talk about her a lot, or feel guilty about dating and embracing a new love. There may be many conflicting feelings that need to be honored within him before his heart is fully available to take on a new love.

The best gift you can give him for now is your patience. Allow him to talk and express his feelings -- a very important aspect. Being patient and loving, kind, caring and empathetic would be good avenues to explore. I suspect you are in different places emotionally and that's okay, but it needs to be recognized. He cannot replace his old love, but with enough healing he can embrace a new relationship while holding memories of his late wife dear.

Gloria Lintermans & Marilyn Stolzman, Ph.D. L.M.F. T.


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