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When Is It Time to Move On?

Dear Philippa,

My husband passed away a year ago and although we were very much in love, I do want to love again. My son says that wearing my wedding ring sends the message that I'm not ready to date. There is a guy I'm very interested in getting to know. This man knows my husband is gone. But I'm leaving it to fate and the will of God to make things happen. What do you think?

�Kathleen, Wichita, KS


Dear Kathleen,

I was having lunch with a woman friend the other day. She was telling me that when she was clearing out her garage she found her beloved pet's collar. Her dog Rusty had died the year before. Trying to let go, she put the collar out with the rest of the garbage. Then later that night around midnight, she found herself going through the garbage to retrieve the collar. She just wasn't ready to throw out her dear beloved Rusty's memory with the garbage. We talked about having a dignified, loving ceremony to bury the collar, when she was ready to let go.

Grief has no specific timetable. We all get over losing a loved one in different ways. The right time to put away your ring is a matter that only you can decide.

The human heart is an amazing thing because while it's hurt from loss, it's also healing and reaching out for new ways to love. That's why it is easy to understand that while you are interested in feeling love again, part of you still needs to feel a closeness to your husband by wearing his ring on your hand. One day you may well be able to put that ring in a locket, or in a special private place in your home. One day you may even be able to give it to your son or his future wife as a symbol of the love they will share. But now, if you are not ready to do these things, know that this is all right. Your son however, is also right when he says that the ring will put off the men you meet in typical social circles.

That's why, right now it might be a good idea for you to direct your social outreach to environments where you will get the most understanding. Have you considered a grief recovery group, church, or even an online ad that would attract someone like yourself, someone who is going through a loss?

Now, about this fellow you fancy, you say that he knows you are now widowed. I wonder, was he friend of you and your husband's? It is very difficult for someone to know when the time is right to ask a widow or widower out, especially if they knew the deceased. So you may miss out on a wonderful relationship by waiting for fate to step in without a little encouragement on your part. As one of my readers wrote me after I had done a column on faith and love, "God can not steer your car when you've got the brake on." Let's pray for guidance and the wisdom to know what to do, while we use the intellect and instinct God blessed us with to take some action in our lives.

Test the waters with this gentleman. For example, if you see him at church on Sundays, invite him to sit and chat over coffee and cookies after the service. Keep the conversation light and smile to let him see that you are healing and ready to share some laughter. Try this for a couple of weeks and see if it goes anywhere. He'll get the hint if he's interested and maybe invite you out for a casual bite or stroll after church. If he doesn't respond, so be it. The timing for him could be off for some reason. At least he'll know you are back in circulation and might ask you out at a later date.

Focus on the miracle that is happening inside you. One year ago you experienced the most devastating loss you could imagine. Your husband has found peace. His memory and your love together are irrevocably imprinted in your heart. Your heart has room for even more love. Its capacity is limitless. You are preparing yourself to bring more love into your life. There's no need to rush anything. Everything is going according to plan. Your heart is still healing. There is another wonderful man that will be ready to find you when you are ready.




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