Life Advice



Single File: Mourning Time Frame

Susan Dietz on

DEAR SUSAN: I have a dilemma. My wife died a little over two years ago, ending our wonderful marriage of 26 years and making me a widower at 49. My wife was popular and well-liked by many in our area. Now I feel ready to explore the possibility of dating again by using online dating apps. The problem, though, is that some of my wife's single friends use those apps, too, and I'm afraid of being judged for not mourning long enough. What's a typical time frame for mourning, and is this a legitimate concern? -- Worried Widower

DEAR WORRIED WIDOWER: I'm honored that you turned to me for such sensitive advice. But your own instincts are already pointing you in a healthy direction -- back into the world of people -- so let them be a guide.

My counsel is to keep a slow pace on your return trip and not to enter the world of online dating for a while. It's a rough-and-tumble place, with its share of deception and trickery, and you're a newcomer to the dating world. At this beginning stage of socializing, be wise and stay with more familiar ways of meeting people. Religious groups offer a low-stress way to begin mingling, so I suggest a heart-to-heart with your spiritual leader to get things started. And then -- only after joining a group of friendly faces and warm smiles -- consider joining an interest group (golf, cooking, whatever rings your bell) to gently move you into the world of compatible people, where chances are good you'll find more in common than a single interest.

As for public opinion, well, those who truly care about your happiness will understand -- no, encourage -- your edging back into life on your own schedule. When it feels right for you. The happiest relationships have the deepest need to replicate themselves when a partner dies, an irony well understood. Somewhere, your wife is surely smiling.

RANDOM THOUGHTS ON LOVE: The following observations were made in The New York Times' "Modern Love" column, and I share them here for you to think about.

--Reconnecting with an old high school or college sweetheart late in life seems to result in happiness more often than not.

--Gay marriage turns out to be yawningly similar to heterosexual marriage.

--Meanwhile, heterosexual marriage seems to be as confusing and politically charged as ever.


--Online dating is found by many to be scary, fun, miraculous, hollow.

--Whether from a test tube, a surrogate, an agency, or a friend, a baby is still a baby.

--Among the lovelorn and childless, many seem resigned that pets and people are better at forging successful relationships with each other than people and people.

--In pursuing love, electronic communication allows us to be more reckless, fake, distracted and isolated than ever before.


Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at We've uncovered another treasure trove of "Single File" paperbacks -- in perfect condition, signed by Susan, ready to enjoy. Send $15 and your address: Susan Deitz, C/O Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.



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