When two people get married, they make a series of solemn promises to one another. These vows may vary from person to person, but at most weddings, the people getting married swear to stay together “‘til death do us part”.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Quotes About Falling in Love After the Death of a Spouse
- Quotes About Struggling to Find Love After the Death of a Spouse
- Quotes About Committing to a New Relationship After the Death of a Spouse
Even though that vow is a traditional one, most of us don’t think that death will separate us from a spouse anytime soon. But the sad truth is, death can separate people without warning. And the spouse that’s left behind may even end up falling in love again one day. These quotes shed light on what can sometimes be a complicated situation.
Quotes About Falling in Love After the Death of a Spouse
When you read books on grief for surviving spouses, they’ll often talk about falling in love again. This can bring up many complex feelings. A widow or widower may feel guilt about even considering another relationship. Some people feel as though they’re being unfaithful to a late spouse, while others struggle with survivor’s guilt. These quotes delve into those complicated emotions.
1. "Your heart is a giant cathedral. Let it open. Let it love. Do not let your gorgeous loyalty to the deceased stop you from experiencing the marvels and terrors of your short, mortal, precious life. It’s OK to live, and to love." —Elizabeth Gilbert
Gilbert achieved fame thanks to her deeply personal memoir that told of a life-changing love affair. She married the man she wrote about, and readers assumed they would live happily ever after. But nine years into her marriage, Gilbert discovered her longtime best friend Rayya Elias had terminal cancer. She also realized that she had been deeply in love with Elias for years and ended her marriage before committing to Elias.
Fourteen months after Elias died, Gilbert announced that she had embarked on a new relationship. This quote captures her open-hearted (and often-tempestuous) approach to love.
2. “We didn’t even realize we were falling in love. Meredith had HAD it with dating, and I’d resigned myself to live in the grey deadness of losing Michelle. But to encounter a mind like Meredith’s, and to get to talk with her at the end of every day, just someone to talk to in the dark, quickly became indispensable.” —Patton Oswalt
Oswalt is a comedian, writer, and actor who is known for his caustic commentary. But his raw grief after the death of his wife Michelle McNamara was undeniable. Some fans looked askance when he remarried actress Meredith Salenger a little over a year after McNamara’s death. But Salenger and Oswalt have both continued to honor McNamara’s legacy as a groundbreaking true-crime journalist.
3. “Maybe I was afraid of the judgment of others, but mostly I think I feared my own judgment: that loving another person would somehow diminish what I had with my dead husband Aaron. That if I was happy, I must not be sad anymore. That I didn't actually deserve to be happy again.” —Nora McInerny
In 2010, McInerny began dating art director Aaron Purmort. Less than a year into their relationship he was diagnosed with stage IV glioblastoma, a diagnosis that is nearly always fatal. They decided not to waste what little time they had left, and immediately got married and began trying to start a family. Purmort died in 2014, leaving behind his wife and young son.
A year and a half after her husband’s death, McInerny fell in love with a divorced father of two. They blended their families and had a child together in 2016. McInerny rose to fame writing blog posts and then books about her whirlwind first marriage. In her 2019 memoir No Happy Endings, she explores the difficulty of being in love with two men at once when only one is still living.
4. “And then the day came/when the risk/to remain tight/in a bud/was more painful/than the risk/it took to Blossom.” —Anais Nin
This quote is actually a poem about grief in its entirety. It illustrates the power of moving forward, even through fear.
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Quotes About Struggling to Find Love After the Death of a Spouse
It may seem inconceivable that you might want to date again after burying a spouse. But there does come a point when some widows and widowers are ready to wade into the dating pool. It can be difficult finding the right person to date, though. After all, your last relationship ended because of death and not incompatibility. You may find that suitors can’t compare to your lost love. These quotes talk about that experience.
5. “I knew I would have to relearn how to listen to music, and that some of the music we'd loved together I'd never be able to hear again.” —Rob Sheffield
This quote is from Sheffield’s poignant memoir Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time. Sheffield, a music journalist, doesn’t just grieve the sudden death of his wife Renée Crist in this book. He mourns the music that once scored their relationship but now only brings him sadness. It also serves as a metaphor for falling in love after your spouse dies.
At first, it seems unfathomable to think of going through the same situation again. But over time, that feeling may change. For Sheffield it did: he remarried in 2006, nine years after Renée’s death.
6. “Companionship, reflection, and connection are vital parts of surviving grief.” —Megan Devine
People sometimes struggle to find love after their spouse dies because they feel guilt or shame. Devine, a grief expert, gently reminds us that finding love again is part of the healing process.
7. “You can know something in your head but not in your heart.” —Alan D. Wolfelt
In The Wilderness of Suicide Grief, Wolfelt explores the disconnect between intellect and emotion. While you may feel like it’s a logical time to move on, your heart might operate on its own timeline.
8. “I cannot live the rest of my life without my husband. But I can live without him for one day.” —Linda Feinberg
Feinberg’s book I’m Grieving as Fast as I Can was written with young widows and widowers in mind. Starting a new relationship can be difficult because it lends a sense of finality to your relationship. This quote reminds people that we don’t have to compartmentalize like that. It’s okay to get through grieving one moment at a time.
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Quotes About Committing to a New Relationship After the Death of a Spouse
Making a lifelong commitment to someone is always worthy of serious consideration. Many people fear remarriage after the death of a spouse. They’ve already had to say goodbye to one partner—what if it happens again? These quotes address that sense of hesitance as well as the unexpected joys.
9. “I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us. I also know that if we are to live ourselves there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead. ” —Joan Didion
In 2003, Didion’s daughter lay comatose in the ICU suffering from septic shock. She would still be unconscious when her father died suddenly of a massive heart attack. Didion coped with grieving her husband of almost forty years by writing the beloved memoir The Year of Magical Thinking.
This quote alludes to the terrible practicality of having to move on after losing a life partner. Perhaps tellingly, Didion has never remarried.
10. “I say expanded because that’s what widowed hearts do. They expand. One love isn’t moved out to make room for someone new. An addition is built. Just like my love for my daughter was not diminished by the birth of my son, so too, the love widows can have for someone new does not diminish the love of the one lost. The expansion of the heart is part of the grieving process.” —Erica Roman
Earlier we mentioned that some people believed Patton Oswalt had remarried too quickly after his wife’s death. Erica Roman, a young widow, wrote a blistering viral blog post in his defense. She delves into some of the same concepts that Nora McInerny touches on.
11. “However much grief I carried, I liked the way my life was tending, these bright new directions. It's only human, to mourn and to reach toward forwardness at once.” —Mark Doty
In Heaven’s Coast: A Memoir, Mark Doty documents his longtime partner’s slow decline to the HIV virus. Doty is a poet, and his lyrical writing style packs an emotional punch.
12. "I thought falling in love again was the only thing that was going to save me from the pain.” —Michelle Williams
The actress made this statement after having a failed relationship in the wake of her former partner’s death. It reminds us that it’s okay to make mistakes when looking for love once more.
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A Second Chance at a Lifelong Love
People are generally good about giving a widow or widower space and time to grieve. But over time, well-meaning family and friends may start to put pressure on you to move on.
This happens often with people who lost a spouse at an early age. It might also happen if your spouse was ill for a long time and people have had time to prepare for their death.
But even if others are encouraging you to move on, you may grapple with whether you’re really ready to let go. Sometimes reading quotes from people who have been there is the best way to help you process this unique pain.