Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Love After Love ...

.... is different.
Very, very different.

I wish I had known that.
I wish I had known a widow who could have told me that.
Someone who could have warned me.

You see, I had only loved one person in my whole life (OK, other than my family members and friends).
I had only fallen in love once.
And he had only fallen in love once.
We both had that love for over 27 years.

So I only had one experience of "falling in love".
When C came along and we started dating .... it was different.
I knew things would be different because he is not Jim.
But I didn't know that love would feel different.

And so as we became more serious and had deeper feelings for one another, I started to worry.
A lot.
I questioned myself and my feelings.
Because ..... this did not feel the same.
I wasn't experiencing the feelings that I had 27 years ago.
I wasn't feeling that "if I don't see him today I think I'll die" emotion.
I wasn't feeling that I was falling more in love each day.
I wasn't feeling that my heart would burst from how much love I had for him.
I didn't wake up each morning almost counting the hours until we'd be together again.
So I wondered if I truly loved him.

I stressed a lot over this, not wanting to give up on the relationship, but wondering if I was being fair to him if this truly wasn't love.
It's hard to express how much pain I was in.
And I had no one to really talk to about it.
Who else would know how I felt and wouldn't think that this was just silly .... or crazy?

By this time I had my "Circle" of widow friends.
We try to meet once a week.
But I couldn't even mention it to them.
Most of them weren't dating yet and I really saw this as my "fault".
He loved me .... a lot, but here I was .... not sure that it was love for me but not willing to stop seeing him. I thought I was being selfish. Or worse .... maybe I was settling.

Then one night, at a Circle dinner, the one other woman who was dating joined us.
Her husband died the month after Jim died.
And, strangely enough (because it's rare) .... he died of the same thing.
She began dating a man around the same time that C and I started dating.

She began to talk about her relationship.
And her doubts.
And suddenly, I felt great.
Not because of her doubts .... but because I knew at that moment that I was not alone .... and I was not silly, or crazy, or selfish.

We both compared notes and we both finished each others sentences (as widows often do).
And as we spoke the other woman in our Circle began to understand and then were able to encourage us and give their opinions.
And I began to realize that the way I was loving this second time .... was "normal".
And that I had to let go of my expectations.

How could this love feel the same as my first love?
I was younger then.
So. Much. Younger.
And I was in college.
Where the only worries I had was making sure I was prepared for the next exam.

We were both worry-free.
We had no children.
We really didn't have many bills.
We had no jobs.

We had time.
We had freedom.
We had youth.
We had only each other.
And we had a long future ahead of us .... a blank slate to plan and dream about.

It's 27 years later.
I have 6 children.
I have bills.
Lots of bills.
I have a dead husband.
I have no partner to help make the small daily decisions or the big, fat difficult ones.
I have a scarred heart.
I am in a different place.
To put it mildly.

It makes sense now, but before talking to my friend, I'd never thought of all of this.
I didn't know.
It never occurred to me to look at the different circumstances.
Maybe I should have known to do that.
But I was clueless.
I'd never been on this path before.
And I'd never loved another man before.

I wish I had known.
I wish I'd known someone who could have prepared me.
That's why I'm writing this post.
To tell you.
To make you aware .... in case you're as clueless as I was.

Love ... after love ..... will not feel the same.
But that doesn't mean that it's not love.
If that person comes along .... and you don't want to let go, but don't feel the same "love", look back.
Look back at where you were.

And after you look back ..... see how far you've come.


  1. Wow. Thank you for this. Thank you for the "warning" so to speak, to help me and others like me possibly prepare if we do run into someone we love one day... I probably would have freaked out and ran. It's great to meet other people on this path and realize I'm not as crazy as I often think I am.

  2. I love this! It speaks such truth . . . I have started dating and have had the exact same doubts, the same emotions, the same thoughts. It is like you went inside my head and my heart! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  3. Thank you for writing this!!! I have recently started dating someone, and I can't help but compare my feelings. Then, because they don't add up to the past, I start to think that I might not really care for this person as much as I thought, and that I'm not being fair. But, at the same time, there is that voice saying hold on, don't let go. Ugh, to know that this is "normal", and fellow widows feel the same makes me breathe a sigh of relief! Thank you again!! :)

  4. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing. I am 9 months out and know that I do want to date again, not yet, but eventually. It's nice to hear this as it helps with what to expect. Thank you!

  5. Sometimes you just have to go with your heart and not your head. I lost my first husband in 1987 after 13 1/2 years of marriage and loved him with all my heart. I dated for a while but was never really 'comfortable'. Two even asked me to marry them but it just didn't feel right. Then I met Jerry! Within a month I knew he was the right one. Jerry passed away in April after 18 1/2 years of marriage and was the light of my life. Who's to say what is right for you except yourself. When I feel the the time is right I will probably date again more for friendship but who knows! Life is similar to a dominoes game. You take what your given, do the best you can with it and go on to the next game!

  6. Valuable because a lot of widowed folk will tell you that it should feel the same or it's wrong ... not love but distraction seeking or some such nonsense.

    I'd dated a lot before meeting my first husband. I was already older and more experienced, so when I met my second husband, the differences didn't surprise me as much.

    But still, falling in love is falling in love. It is more the same than not.

  7. WOW! Great post, Janine. Glad I just found this blog. I lost my wife almost 5 years ago and haven't really started dating yet but these same thoughts have been going through my head.I grew up a few blocks from my DW and we graduated from the same HS in 1975. We were friends for years but didn't start dating til a year after high school. We soon fell in love as kids with the burning intensity of kids. That never changed through 25 years of marriage. I've been thinking that it probably isn't possible to feel the same thing towards another woman as a 54 year old man. Then I started thinking that maybe that also meant that I could never fall in love again. Kinda depressing. Thank you for letting me know that those feelings are very common for people in our group.

  8. Thank you!! I have been widowed since 1998 and just started dating last year. I have had the exact same feelings, it's good to take a look back and of course the love won't be the same as a twenty something. But you put it together in a beautiful way.
    Thanks again

  9. I just came across this ... wow! What a great website! I've been widowed for 11 years now. My husband was killed by a drunk driver when I was only 31 and he was only 28. We were truely soulmates and he was the love of my life. I'll always feel that way. I've dated ALOT in 11 years! Feel in love twice and now i'm with a wonderful man who has all the qualities that I was looking for INSIDE! It's good to know that I'm not the only one who feels like they might be "settling". I AM tired of dating for the past 11 years... but my husband raised the bar very high. So I guess I have to lower my expectations or be alone for maybe 11 more years! Thank you for sharing! It helps!

    1. Iam truly,sorry for your lost but you will find love again that I know you are going to be happy again. Because he want's you to period.

    2. This post was written in 2010. See our current Widow's Voice blogs at

  10. Thank you! I can't imagine dating again, it's only been 5 months, but if I find love again, I'll know what to expect...and not expect.

  11. I've fallen in love with a never married man after losing my husband 30 months ago.

    This IS different than the "first time" that I really fell in love with my late husband.

    My new guy is just ........ I can't even describe what I feel. I love him, he's fun and sensitive and ....... I can't describe it.

    I feel very fortunate to have found someone that I love again. My late husband and I met as high school kids, and fell in love in our early 20's. We had 30 years of marriage, with the usual ups and downs. WE were not blessed with children.

    My new guy is never married,so we don't have any children between us. I feel cherished and loved, and life is good.

    "Second love" is different, but it's very good. I will always love and miss my late husband. It's really hard to understand sometimes, how I can go from tears for my late husband into smiling and thinking of my new guy. There's an odd "divide". I love both of them, one here and one gone.

  12. Yes. You describe it perfectly. I was thinking the same thing. I didn't know if I should feel that same over-the-top can't eat, can't sleep, can't think straight. It's more of a calm, mature love. To me, just as rewarding. But I am older and wiser and I know exactly what I want and don't want in a man. Not idealistic. More practical. But still rewarding and wonderful!! I just didn't know if there was something wrong that it was not as intense. I feel better now. Thanks.

  13. I lost my first wife 31 years ago. We were only together for just over a year but had an extraordinarily deep connection and it took a long time before I could open up to someone new. Once I did and to my surprise, I found that I was able to put the deep love for my first wife in a special place that endures to this day and still feel and give to a new partner without any hesitation or restraint or feelings of guilt. We have that capacity as human beings if we allow time for healing after the loss of a spouse and give ourselves permission to allow joy to return to our lives.

  14. I found this post extremely helpful as I've been widowed for three years and dating my current boyfriend for the last six months. He's a wonderful man and says that he loves me but I don't feel the depth of love that I did for my late husband. And, ironically, when we do get close I feel depressed and emotionally push him away. I assume that guilt that I'm betraying my husband causes this shut down, though I realise that this is irrational.

  15. my late husband has been gone for 9 mos. i miss him every day but when he passed we weren't at a good place...emotional disconnected and had went to marriage counseling....we were finding our way back to each other...he truly was the love of my life....married for over 30 years...4 grown children...i get a phone call from a local man who lost his wife 2 mos later than my husband we began dating....its been 4 mos. and we just connected from the get go...same values....same sense of humor...and i have fallen in love....and its exciting....scary all at the same time....he is asked me to marry him and i have accepted but want time to just be with him and not rush...:) its just been easy...very it too soon? i am just enjoying every moment...and look forward to every moment w/him

  16. Thank you for sharing this. I will be getting remarried this coming week, and you've written what is in my heart. Yes, only another widow can truly understand.

    Bless you.

  17. Thank you for the post. It diagnosed and treated a disease i thought i had without a name. Happy to know that others can fit my shoes too. Thank you! Thank you!

  18. This was great to read. My husband passed away almost four years ago. We were married for seventeen years and three children. He was the love of my life. I'm in a new relationship about three months but I love him. My husband told me to find love again after his death. He even said it will be different. He was giving me his blessing. Even with that I felt guilty. I havent laughed and showed this depth of love in years but It feels great. Thank you for the post it helps.

  19. I was married for 19 years and lost my husband to brain cancer when we were both 42 years old. I raised my three kids ages 9, 11 & 13 by myself. This year they all will graduate from college and are happy and on the path of their choosing. I am now 54 and have dated so many men....and broken up with so many men because "I'm just not feeling it". I feel flat about all relationships now and a part of me is lonely, a part of me is content and a part of me feels dead. I would like to be able to move on and accept someone new - I moved from the suburbs of Houston to a ski town in Colorado. I have reinvented myself, am admired for my work with children with disabilities, become a ski instructor, lost 80 pounds, completed eludes me or perhaps I elude love.

  20. Thank you so much for this post (found it quoted on another site, which prompted me to find this blog--I think I'll be checking here regularly).
    I lost my wife a little over 5 months ago. We became friends when we were 14, started dating at 17 and got married at 23. Aside from a few problems, we had a very strong, loving relationship.

    Now at age 46, I started dating recently and am in a relationship with someone. I have been wrestling with so many of the same thoughts and feelings that you mention. Thank you for putting my mind at ease. I want so much for this new relationship to be "the one". It is right in so many ways. However, I occasionally find myself coming back to feeling unsure for various reasons (and, like you said, wondering if I'm "settling"). This post really hit the nail on the head.

  21. Thank you for this, I am a 25 year old who was widowed at 24. I had fallen in love again and wasn't sure if it were real because of my age, or if I was just expecting the feelings to be the same. I couldn't make sense out of it!

    My late husband was my best friend, soul mate and everything that could complete another person. After he passed at the age of 23, I was lost. But one of my good friends helped me along the way and he ended up being part of moving forward. It's just nice knowing, I'm not alone. That I'm not crazy for feeling the things I do. Even reading all the comments makes a world of difference.

    I'm still young yet I realize, however I feel like I have alot of life lesson's under my belt. To have found love twice in one life time I feel truely blessed. Thank you again, you really do help those who are still finding their way.

  22. I am in tears!! After 4 years of being widowed, I still feel it difficult to move on. You expressed why I could not put into words. I met a man, who loved me, but because I could not move on, I fear I have lost him. I even told him not to tell me he loved me. How stupid! I now understand the emotion of love toward another does feel different after your soulmate has passed! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Thank-you for sharing,,,Finally,,someone who I can relate too,,I am widowed 26 months, started dating a few months ago , also a widower,3years..He is a wonderful Man.but I have pushed him away because I didn't realize this was normal, and Now its over,,I am brokenhearted..Now I understand,,,a little too late,,Thanks for Sharing//

    2. Thank-you for sharing,,,Finally,,someone who I can relate too,,I am widowed 26 months, started dating a few months ago , also a widower,3years..He is a wonderful Man.but I have pushed him away because I didn't realize this was normal, and Now its over,,I am brokenhearted..Now I understand,,,a little too late,,Thanks for Sharing//

  23. Thank you for this blog, as I have been wrestling with the same emotions. After being widowed for 10 years, I have started dating someone and am in a relationship now. He loves me very much, and I care very much for this man, but the feelings are not the same as they were with my husband, and I have been stressing out thinking that maybe I was also not feeling love, the way I had known it to be. It is nice to know that I am not he only one with these feelings, and that it is normal.

  24. After only being widowed a year, I've suddenly found myself in a confusing position. Finding myself attracted mentally but not physically to a new man, I couldn't decide if it was guilt or fear holding me back. Now I understand it's just me, redefining who I am and what I really want after a 32 year relationship. Thank you, I'm just going to step back a while and see how it all plays out.

  25. I have been searching for this. .I was widowed at 28 and am now 30.I stayed dating someone now going on three and a half months. I have been questioning everything and why I haven't felt those feelings, thinking there was something wrong with me. Thinking I didn't feel the way he did. Thank you for letting me know I'm not alone in the way I feel! !

  26. After the loss of my husband last year I never thought that I would even want to have anyone in my life again. Somehow I found the most understanding man in the world. I battled with my heart and my head for what seemed like months. He knew how I felt before I was willing to admit it. This has helped it is a strange feeling to have two loves in your heart.
    I do feel differently about the new man but it also is because of age and experience, I am as much in love with him as I was with my husband but it is different.

  27. My beloved and I together 24/7 for 9 years...two hearts beating as one. I thought I didn't want to open my heart to anyone ever again, I thought I didn't want to ever to experience that intense passion or to risk such great loss again. But our intimate moments were a huge part of our love for each other (no children in our lives to interrupt--always just the 2 of us) and after the long illness and the 18 months without him I am feeling the stirrings again. Coming up from out of the numbness. I have all those conflicting feelings about 'romantic love'....will it feel like a betrayal if I love another as deeply as I loved him? Will I be diminishing what we had if I become "happier than I've ever been before" with a new love? At the same time, I am missing being loved and wanted. There might be someone for me again if I am willing to let go of all self-judgement and fear and "just BE". In the moment, in today, loving my life and my self.

  28. widowed four years and still push away men that have loved me why cant i let anyone in again i feel guilty loving someone else

    1. Our Widows Voice blogs have moved to the Soaring Spirits web site. You can find current blogs here:

  29. I first saw this post 3 years ago and it made me sit up and think about the doubts I had about a new friendship I had just started out on. On paper he was everything that would make me happy, but he just wasn't my husband. When you meet somebody at school and grow up together you don't experience the highs and lows of ordinary dating, you don't have experience of the "meh" response to an uninspiring date. After reading this post, I stood back a looked at how I felt about my new friend. Birds didn't sing, shooting stars didn't miraculously appear when we dated, but neither did I ever feel "meh". I realised I loved our friendship and in time that turned into a deep love for him. I'm glad I was fortunate enough to experience the passion of a true soul mate, but I'm also very grateful that I've also been given the chance to find a peaceful, steady and mutually rewarding love too.
    Thank you for sharing your valuable experience with all of us.

  30. It's a great post, isn't it? Janine doesn't write for us any longer but you can find our current Widow's Voice blogs on the Soaring Spirits web site.