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How Long Should A Person Wait To Date After Their Spouse Dies?

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Dear Matchmaker Rabbi:

My sister recently lost her husband of 45 years and was thinking of starting to talk to men online just two weeks after his death. Prior to that, they were happily married (according to her own account and everyone who knew them). This seems way, way too fast to me. What is your opinion?

― Concerned Sister


Dear Concerned Sister:

Even if your sister were unhappily married for 45 years, attempting to date (or even flirt with other men) just two weeks after the death of her husband is, well, how else to put it… crazy!

I don’t mean to imply your sister is crazy; rather, the notion is crazy. Please encourage her to abandon it.

Your sister is in a painful place, understandably. There are many online support groups for people who have lost a spouse. Just search the words “support group, death, (name of her city)” online and you will find some. There are even some hookup bereavement groups that meet in person in major cities like Los Angeles. Your sister needs love, support, nurture and an attentive ear; not a date.

If she won’t listen to you or others around her in this regard, my only hope is that the men she contacts will have the good sense to not respond (romantically speaking). Any person dealing with relationship loss, whether through divorce or death, should not even think about dating for at least a year.

Please send your sister my blessings.

― The Matchmaker Rabbi

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  • jane says:

    My husband passed away a week ago he was buried three days now and I feel too lonely I don’t understand if its part of grieving we been married for 15 years and he loved me a lot he was my everything I doubt ill ever stop loving him.Though we had issues in our marriage we loved each other and we remained best friends he dies from a tragic car accident I feel I can move on as soon as the right man comes along but I fear how Society will look at me and my in laws I feel that I gave him all the love I could and he knows it I cannot grief more than I did on his funeral and I left every pain guilt or emotions that may come with grieve when I said goodbye to him yes I miss him and yes I think of him yet I feel the iS no better time for me to start my life without him than now question is will this be understood will I be cruel or selfish to move on so fast

  • Dale says:

    My wife of 27 years passed away over 4 years ago and I have not been able to move past it (I briefly dated after three years but it never transferred into a physical relationship and I ended it shortly after it started) , I know I am ready but I may never find what I am looking for. My wife took my breath away from the first moment we met until the day she passed. I adored her with all my heart and never tired of looking at her every chance I got. She was a stunningly beautiful woman, very fit (former NFL cheerleader), very active and did and ate everything the correct way. Even so the lord took her (cancer). Everyone loved her, she was a kind and loving person to all, her friends were precious and she loved her children unequivocally, she never met a person who she wouldn’t talk to or go out of her way for.
    I have not met another person who I have had the same instinctual feelings for, that is; just takes my breath away and feel I would be shorting myself looking for anything less. Until then I am content looking after my four children and being close to my friends. If someday I meet someone who simply clicks my consciousness then I will be truly ready to move on.
    I hope this doesn’t make me sound shallow, the heart wants what the heart wants.

  • mary toomey says:

    i am in a relationship but do not want to remarry i am a widow and john a widower he wants a relationship but no marriage do you think this will work was

  • Eddie says:

    The Sunday following Thanksgiving 2014, my wife of 27 years died suddenly from a a massive heart attack, she was never sick,never complained about any symptoms. I feel such an enourmous loss. After 6 months,things seem to be getting a bit worse for me emotionally. I met someone online after 4 months, she had also lost her husband 2 years earlier, I told that i was not interested in a serious relationship at the outset. During the course of our 4th date, she told me that she thought that our relationship felt “right”. She happened to look away and for the first time,I noticed how much she resembled my wife.
    That night I had to let her know that, if anyone knew how i felt it would be her,and I ended it, I was in no way ready for this, I thought i was, but alas, no.
    My work keeps me busy but the mornings and evenings are tough, we had no kids, my friends and family are 5 hours away,I try and speak to someone each night, it helps, we do have some meanngful conversations, but the lonliness is very tough. I really hope time eases my pain

  • sam says:

    My mother died 9 weeks ago after battling cancer. My 66 year old father, told us earlier (me and my siblings), that in less than 2 weeks, he’s moving in with a 30 something year old woman, he met. My parents dated for 5 years and were married 34 years. Is it me, or is this inappropriate as it can get?

  • rick says:

    I lost my wife a week ago to cancer an loved her very much I lost my first wife to an affair an did not wait long to date I found many girls that I would not normally date but the loneliness was to much an I made many mistakes with these girls just to keep that vode filled once I stopped dating around is when I met my wife to which we stared as friends an then married an had a hoolife to gather the key is to find a friend first they make better wifes

  • Latrisa says:

    My husband passed away 9.5 months ago it has been the worst thing I have ever went through in my life. I get feel all alone like I don’t have a purpose in life anymore. I’ve thought about dating but I’m just not ready but at the same time I just feel so alone when I do even look at a man I always try to find something in him that reminds me of my husband but it always fail and I change my mind :(

  • George says:

    Joysa – I have to disagree with you, and strongly so.

    Yes I understand that dating soon after a divorce or death is unusual, and yes people need time to grieve. But, honestly, let the person who suffered the loss decide when the time is right!

    My wife was sick over 12 years, and hospitalized nearly 6 weeks. It was clear she wouldn’t be coming home, but we had hopes she’d make it to a convalescent hospital so the grandkids could visit, etc. That simply didn’t happen.

    I’ve suffered with many loses in my life – Dad, Mom, first wife (divorce) and now after 35 years I lost Kim. I have no illusions – I realize I am ‘wounded’, but I am also ready to get out once a week and see people. For 35 years my wife WAS my socialization. Now, deprived of that, I need to meet someone with whom I can bond, be close to and perhaps intimate as well.

    You say go to groups of folks who’ve suffered recent losses. Yes, I can but I talk enough about Kim’s death with my daughter, other family friends and so on. THEY think that is what we should talk about – or perhaps that is what THEY need to talk about.

    It used to be, when a person had major surgery they were kept in bed for days or weeks. Now, with knee replacements, etc, they get you up and out of bed almost immediately. Someone trying to lose weight is told to exercise, gradually working their way up to more energetic activity. They don’t go and enter a marathon right away – but they are active.

    I’m not trying to enter a marathon – or get married – or hop into bed with the first lady who winks at me. But, by the same token, I need to find someone who wants to listen to my stories and experience, is willing to grow close – and we see how it goes.

    I’ve not bottled anything up…but I am ready. In five days it will be a month since my wife ‘fell asleep’.

  • Karen P. says:

    My uncle had two wives pass away, he remarried after about a year each time. I know of a young lady that was with someone three months after her husband passed away.
    I had my husband pass away this March, but sometimes consider that he actually passed away Sept 2010 when he had a stroke that left him with dementia. I don’t know about dating, I would like to meet someone, but really don’t have time (more now that I’m not taking care of my husband) as I have three children and a mother to care for. If it happens good, if not I will enjoy life anyway. As someone else said, we don’t know how much time we have.

  • Bruce says:

    Three years ago my wife of 37 years died in an accident. I had been planning to retire 8 months from then and she was going to retire in a little more than a year (she told me that I needed to clean the basement up in the four months between my retirement and hers!). Like all long marriages, we had good times and bad times. After about two years I started to have relatives tell me that it was time to find a new companion. I wasn’t ready–I couldn’t stand the thought of being with someone but her. Counting the time we went together in college we had been with each other for over 40 years. A few months ago the loneliness led me to online dating. I found someone my age who shares my two main interests and hobbies. We have a good time together and enjoy each others company. But I think that’s as far as it will go. To go further still doesn’t seem right. I think for me, the time to move forward will be never. I’m sure I’m the exception, but I think my experience has just convinced me of what several others here have said. There is no rule. It depends on each individual.

  • John says:

    Although I am not hookup I found the articles very interesting. I lost my beautiful wife, my best friend, to cancer over two months ago after 33 years of marriage. As some people stated, up til now it has been non-stop crying, even out-loud sobbing and wailing. Recently however the frequency and duration of the crying has lessened. I still cry from time to time and fairly hard too but not as often nor as long and uncontrollably as before. I loved my wife dearly and still do but now I am feeling lonely. I get out of the house, go to church, also belong to a church group, and see my three grownup children and five grandchildren but I feel like I’m just a loner on the sidelines. I’m beginning to feel the need to find someone of the opposite sex who is of my generation and with similar life experiences as me. Someone who could be my friend and who is truly interested in me. I’m still not sure if I’m ready yet but I’ve begun thinking of going to one of those online dating sites to find someone to share the rest of my life with. Yes I loved my wife, still do, always will but I need companionship and do not feel finding someone else to love and marry will lessen the love and memory of my first wife at all. Nor will the love and memory for my first wife lessen my ability to love and marry someone else.

  • Sallie says:

    I started dating a 70 yr. old man who’s wife had passed away 6 months before we met. He seems very happy and blessed to be with me and seems to be falling in love with me. Am I to trust these feelings? I repeatedly ask him if he needs to grieve longer before we continue our relationship to any further level. He assures me that he loved his wife but she is gone and he now has found happiness with me. He admits that he cried for 3 solid months after she passed and was so lonely but then decided that it was time to find someone to share life and happiness.

  • Natalie says:

    My husband passed away three months ago and we had a horrible year of nothing but , doctors and hospital. I love my husband very much. And have stood by his side for 31 years of marriage and 35 years together and lost him to cancer. I grieved , I could barely stand the pain. The loss was so to say so unbelievably devasting And cry non stop until a month ago And I mean. Non stop .. But woke up one morning and realized he was not coming back – I was never going to see him again .. Which was so hard to believe .. But I got out. And just started dating a man that I have known and trusted for about 6 years My husband liked him also ,, We feel very comfortable together … My mother thinks I have sinned for not waiting for a while ( like ten years ) She is having a fit. She has had many many relationship in her life that failed. I tell her. I am not her and not going to make her mistakes … Believe me. I love my husband. And still in love with him. My husband not taught. But showed me life is so short and we do not know how much time we each have left So I am going on with my life and will never remarry. And know my husband will be waiting for me on the other side with open arms I love you honey.

  • Sue says:

    I am very happily separated from my husband of 18 years, and in the process of the legal divorce and the hookup Get. I started dating fairly soon, mainly because the emotional connection in my marriage had been lost many years ago. I was more ready to start dating than someone whose heart was recently broken. It’s very much an individual timetable.

  • carol says:

    My mom died 3.5 mths ago, my dad started seeing an old family friend for a few weeks now and they just announced that they got engaged and want to marry next year (8 months after mom’s death). we kids are very happy for them, although it will take some time to get use to it. Men morn differently than women;

  • Rachel says:

    I lost my soulmate and love of my life from cancer when he was 48. We had nearly 20 perfect years together and were in love until the end. I love him still and always will, but before he passed away, we spoke about my future without him and he gave me his blessing to find another man with whom to share the next chapter in my life. This “permission” was a blessing for after dealing with his illness, for about four months after he passed away, I wanted to go out and have some fun, and I did! It’s been three years now and I’ve had one exclusive relationship and lots of dates. I have made wonderful new friends from some of my dates, many of whom were 100hookuprs. There is no set time a widow/widower to follow – you can only follow your heart and your head. Halachically speaking, the year of mourning is only for a parent and the period of mourning for every other relationship is only the 30 day shaloshim. The key is to do what feels right for you and not to follow some arbitrary time to go out and restart your life. The mourning never ends, you just learn how to deal with it and put it in its proper place.

  • viterbo says:

    I personally lost my husband of almost 30 years and yes, it was sad, extremely sad and painful but I did not want to stay in bed crying for the rest of my life, when I realized that it was not “US” anymore, that’s when I’ve decided to get a life and to move on.. sure, I have some blue days when I think and realized that life cheated on me, but I shake up and move on to the next happy thought. It’s about your needs and the will to be in love again. Everybody deals with their losses at a different pace.

  • Kenneth Sachs says:

    Avy is correct. My maternal grandfather lost his wife of an arranged marriage he hated in 1918. He met a widow with 3 kids & married her 3 months after his wife died. He was a Satmar Chassid!

    I lost my wife in December. I have no blood relatives locally just
    machatonim. Some of my wife’s 1st cousins on ger mother’s side married non Jews and have Christian children. One married a mon Jew and was too old to have kids. Her sister & one brother never married. All her father’s side relatives in the USSR where he was from were killed in the Holocaust. She had only a few cousins on her mother’s side as they were killed off too. My 24-year old daughter lives on the West Coast.

    I am very lonely as I wasn’t expecting to be widowed and lost my mate of 31+ years.

  • Mike K says:

    I was 55 years old when my wife of 23 years passed away. Seven months later I was dating someone. I knew it wasn’t going anywhere serious (so did she), but I needed to be with someone for the “fun” of it. We enjoyed ourselves for several months. Seven months might not be for everyone but it was a personel choice and it was what I needed.

  • Dave says:

    Seems to me that the absolute bare minimum time under any circumstance is one week, to at least allow for sitting shiva.

    Beyond that, hookup law prohibits for 30 days (“shloshim”) certain activities that would normally be prerequisites for “dating”, such as attending social functions, acts of vanity such as of shaving, cutting hair and nails, etc.

    Then there is “avelut” the year of mourning, avoiding music, saying kaddish, etc.

    Whether one observes those laws or not, they do indicate the degree to which certain social activities are considered acceptable and when, after the death of a loved one.

    There is wisdom in Judaism for every aspect of life, not just holidays.

  • kristen (yeshurun) hope says:

    …everyone has their own opinions. I look for examples in scripture: and what worked with the people of GOD there. ie: David marries Abigail: shortly after here husband’s death (Nabal). see 1 Samuel 25…the whole story is rather dramatic and entertaining…and i think applicable: for consideration here. True: it was a different generation: yet appropriate for pondering. I definitely think: generalizations shouldn’t be made: as in a ONE year wait. Often people make LOOK happy, but have suffered for many years a rather unusual life behind four walls: that no one has ever seen or understood. And certainly death/freedom may be the first “freedom” to seek real friendships and relationships: beyond pretending in life. enough said. shalom….

  • Avy says:

    Interesting article. I do not believe you can put an objective timeline (at least one year after death or divorce) on dating. People are different. Therefore, my opinion is you are wrong in making that said statement. Everyone handles things differently. Ultimately it is about happiness. If it makes a person happy to date right away – I say go for it. I do not believe that anyone has the right to say when people should date and when they should not date. It is up to the individual.

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