After the death of your spouse, you may feel that you’ll never love or be loved again. People may have their own opinion on how you should proceed with your life. Chances are some will chime in on how to console someone after the death of their spouse when they’ve never even suffered this type of loss.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Do You Have to Wait a Certain Amount of Time to Remarry After Your Spouse Dies?
- Signs You Might Be Ready to Remarry
Expect to hear some well-meaning advice on when it’s the right time for you to get remarried, or if you should get remarried at all. Choosing to get remarried is a personal choice for you to make. It doesn’t mean that you’ve forgotten your spouse or don’t love them anymore.
Tip: Complicated family dynamics are just one of the many challenges you might be facing after the death of a loved one. If you need help with those challenges, as well as prioritizing bost-death tasks, check out our post-loss checklist.
Do You Have to Wait a Certain Amount of Time to Remarry After Your Spouse Dies?
When your spouse dies, it seems as if everyone is waiting and watching for your next move. You may be feeling the pressure of your friends and family who appear to be waiting to see how long you’ll be in mourning, or how quickly it’ll take for you to “get over” the death of your spouse.
What many people may not understand is that there’s no “getting over” the death of your spouse. Time does not erase the past, nor does it wipe away the love you still have for them.
When deciding to move forward with your life, there are some key things to know:
- There’s no rule or timeline when it comes to getting remarried following the death of your spouse.
- Like grief, the “right time” for everyone is different. For some, it may be a few weeks, and for others, it can be several years.
- You don’t have to stop loving your deceased spouse in order to find love again.
- Other people’s opinions are just that—their opinions.
- You’re in control of how you navigate your life after the death of your spouse.
There are many factors to consider when trying to figure out what’s best for you. The following guide may help you to determine if and when remarrying is right for you, but also things to look for and consider as you figure out your next steps.
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Signs You Might Be Ready to Remarry
When you’re grieving the loss of your spouse, it may be difficult to consider the idea of getting remarried. The thought of dating and finding someone new is probably the furthest thing from your mind, especially if you’ve lost your spouse suddenly and/or unexpectedly.
Know that there will be some sure-fire signs when the time is right. You shouldn’t worry about overlooking them or missing out on them altogether. These are some of the gentle reminders you’ll find along the way:
1. You’ve accepted the loss
The circumstances leading up to the death of your spouse will have an impact on how long it’ll take for you to accept their loss. That time is influenced, in part, by how the death occurred - whether it was sudden and unexpected, or a result of a long illness.
Accepting the death of your spouse doesn’t mean you’ve figured out what to do with your wedding ring and are now ready for someone new to come into your life. It means you’ve given yourself enough time to process your grief and have begun to heal from it.
2. You’re ready to share your life
After the death of your spouse, you’ve most likely retreated into your own little shell of protection from the outside world. It’s natural to guard your heart and emotions following the death of your spouse. This type of loss can be one of the most painful experiences and the pain may never completely go away.
The time will come when your grief will begin to lift, and you’ll recognize the need and value of sharing your life with others. Remember that your pain is a reflection of the love you have for your deceased spouse, and that it’s okay to love and be loved again.
3. You’re ready to meet someone new
Meeting someone new does not mean replacing your spouse that’s died. When you’ve had enough time to process your loss, you’ll recognize that there’s no way that you can ever replace them.
Shortly after their death, you might have experienced some panic, thinking, “What am I going to do without them?” It’s natural to have these thoughts especially when you were dependent on your spouse for love and companionship.
You’ll know when you’re on your way to finding love again. When you stop worrying and panicking over replacing your spouse, and recognize the value of meeting someone new, you’re on the right path.
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4. Your house is no longer a shrine
When you lose your spouse, you tend to want to hold on to every last piece of the life you shared with them. You may find yourself posting up their pictures in every corner of every room, and filling up all the empty wall spaces as well. Before long, your entire house has become one big shrine to their memory.
As time passes and you begin to date again, you may find that having constant reminders of your deceased spouse no longer helps in the same way. You’ll slowly begin to let go of your past by taking down the monuments that paid homage to the love you once shared. Clearing out your house of these constant reminders also allows room for someone new to come into your heart and home.
5. Your words and actions match
Telling yourself that you’re ready to get remarried, and actually being ready are two very different things. Take care to say to your partner only things that you mean, and not things that you hope for.
If you aren’t ready to get remarried, your actions will speak louder than your words. Saying yes to a marriage proposal especially when your heart’s not yet in it can be hurtful to both you and your partner. Before heading in that direction, be honest with yourself about how you feel towards remarriage.
6. You don’t constantly talk about your spouse
When you stop constantly detailing everything about your past life with your deceased spouse, it may be a sign that you’re ready to move forward with someone new. A natural reaction to loss is wanting to constantly talk about the person who died.
Most people who start dating soon after the loss of their spouse make the mistake of going on and on about their spouse, rather than giving time and attention to the person sitting in front of them. If this is happening to you, consider joining a widow support group. If you’ve stopped that narrative from coming through in your conversations, this is a sign that you’re ready for love again.
7. You don’t fear your family
Your family will undoubtedly have their opinions about when it’s appropriate for you to remarry, if at all. Some widows tend to place a lot of weight on other’s opinions of what’s right for them in deciding when it’s the right time for them to move on.
You’ll know that you’re ready to get married again when you meet that special person who makes you comfortable about your family’s reaction to the decisions you’ve made.
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8. You don’t compare
Comparing your new partner to your spouse is a tell-tale sign that you might not be ready to remarry. Only when you stop comparing what you had then to what you have now is when you’re truly ready to commit to the new person in your life.
Most widows go through a phase of comparing every new partner or person they date to their spouse who’s died. When you meet someone whom you don’t want to compare to your deceased spouse, this is a sign that you’re ready for a completely new experience in your life.
9. You want to enjoy life again
Getting butterflies and finding excitement with your new partner and wanting to enjoy life again is a definite sign you’re ready to move forward. It’s natural to feel a certain amount of guilt as you find happiness and plan your life with your partner. Just because you’ve found happiness again doesn’t mean that you’re in any way dishonoring the life you had before.
Everyone deserves to find happiness and fulfillment in life. Enjoying your life and being happy in no way disrespects your spouse who’s died.
10. You’re happy and want to share your life
Happiness is best when shared with someone who also benefits from the love and joy you have to give.
Once you’ve had the time to process your grief, and you find yourself in a better place, give yourself permission to be happy. The death of your spouse is not a death sentence for your happiness as well.
11. You’ve started to heal
There are many different types of grief that people may experience when their spouse dies. For some, the healing process starts taking place even before their death occurred as is the case with long illnesses.
Your healing may have started taking place well ahead of the actual loss. Healing from your pain and grief gives way to a new life that can fill your heart with joy.
Knowing When You’re Ready
Remarriage does not equal forgetting about your deceased spouse or the love shared between you. Choosing when you’re ready to move on is personal to you, and only you can decide when the time is right.
When you allow yourself to fall all in love again, you’re honoring your need to love and be loved.