Q: My husband passed away nine months ago after a long, awful battle with pancreatic cancer. I cared him for him throughout his illness and his death was a tragic blow, one that I thought I would never recover from. Then, just two months ago, I met a man at a coffee shop near my house. His spouse also passed away, and we instantly hit it off. I want to take things to the next level and move in with him, but my two adult children are very upset and can’t seem to be happy for me. They say I am rushing things and not thinking straight; yet they have their own families and marriages and don’t seem to grasp how lonely I am. How can I get them to understand that my heart has finally healed, and I am ready to move on?
A: I am so very sorry for your loss. Losing a spouse is never easy, especially when it involves a painful and protracted illness. It sounds to me like you did a wonderful job caring for him, and I am sure you were a rock for your children during that difficult time as well. I can understand why you would feel frustrated and possibly even a little angry with them for not celebrating your new happiness, yet I fear that they might have a good point.
Like your children say, I have to caution that it is never a good idea to make life-changing decisions when you are in a grieving or transitional phase. I often advise people to wait at least six months to a year before they make any big, life-changing decisions. In other words, I don’t think it’s a good idea to move, buy a new house, change careers…or move in with a new partner yet. I am very happy that you found someone and that you are in love, but I must caution you that your grief might be playing a role in your decisions.
Indeed, as I read your letter over, it seems to me that you might be grappling with severe loneliness and feelings of loss. I know that you want to move on, but you mention how lonely you are and how your adult children are busy with their own lives and relationships. Coming home to an empty house day after day can be difficult, especially if you are used to having a partner and haven’t lived alone in decades. The importance of companionship during this time cannot be overstated, but perhaps the companions you most need right now are your family. I know they are busy, but if they understood how much you needed their support, I think they would make themselves available to you and make more of an effort to include you in their own lives.
Moving in with your partner can occur down the road, but I think right now it might be better to take things slow. Let your partner know that you love him and want to be with him, but that you also need to keep things at a certain pace so that you don’t make rash decisions. Grieving affects everyone differently, and no one can say for certain when you will be ready or when you should move in with your new partner, but I think you should focus on healing right now.
— Dr. Laura Berman