Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How Soon is Too Soon?

I don't know if I should write this or not, but it's something I'm thinking about.

How soon is too soon to move on to a new spouse?

Is the answer different if someone is moving on because of divorce, or if someone moving on because of death?  Which is more acceptable to move on more quickly?  And is there a difference between a sudden death and a death from illness?

I mentioned in the fall that my bestie's sister passed away.  It was incredibly sad.  She wasn't even 30 and she left behind a husband and a 3-year old daughter.  She (let's call her G) had lung cancer, though she'd never smoked.  By the time they caught it, it was stage 4.  She had a hip pain, she though possibly from carrying her daughter on the same hip for so long.  She saw a GP (who suggested switching hips and seeing an ortho), and then eventually went to see the ortho, who finally did a bone scan and they were shocked -- there it was.  So far along it was hard to determine where it originated.  Time was lost because no one (including she) knew how urgent it was. 

So I'm fb friends with G's husband, and I'm still actually fb friends with G.  After G died, they kept her fb page up and now tag pictures of their daughter or sometimes other family pictures with her.  People write wonderful messages to her when they're remembering something about her. 

G died in October.  We knew it was coming for more than a year before that, but still, the last month seemed to go so quickly.  She was in treatment, working some, etc., and then all of a sudden, there was a steep and quick downhill slide. 

I think about her a lot.  I didn't know G well.  I'd only met her a few times before the diagnosis, and saw her a couple times afterward.  But obviously this was a life-changing event for my best friend, who I love dearly.  Spending the days with her and her family around the funeral was tough, but I wish I could have done anything to ease their pain.  I know there's just nothing you can do, just be there, hug, and try to make things as easy as possible. 

So now, a full 6 months after G died, on FB, G's husband has made a couple references to thinking about dating.  And wow, I'm surprised at the fact that it bothered me.  I read what he wrote, nothing grossly inappropriate or anything, and my first thought was something along the lines of, "no, how can he do that, what about G, how could he be so disrespectful, it's so soon." 

Objectively, I don't think it's unreasonable.  He shouldn't have to be a single dad, he should find love again.  Finding someone new wouldn't be replacing G, it would be adding to their family. 

When they got married, they wanted to be together forever.  When they had their daughter, they wanted to be a family, raising her together.  He didn't sign on to be a single parent -- of course it's part of the risk always, but it wasn't expected. 

But it feels so soon to me.  That I think is what hurts.  And I wonder if it hurts my best friend too.  I would imagine she feels similarly conflicted.  Like G should have a long period of mourning, but at the same time, life goes on. 

But in reality, is 6 months soon?  When he's waking up every day alone, taking care of a 4 year old, wanting to fill a hole in his heart? 

I know there's no real answer. 

Maybe a month or two is too soon?  And of course maybe it's bad if there's some suggestion things had started before the marriage ended (especially in the case of remarriage after divorce or a sudden death).  But at the same time, it completely depends, and even a month or two is maybe not entirely unusual. 

I run with an older man whose wife passed away after a very long illness.  And he had a "lady friend" during that time.  She would bring him dinner, and who knows if anything "improper" happened.  He was with his wife to the end, but she was emotionally and mentally gone long before she was physically gone, but he still stayed by her side and did everything he could for her.  And not long after she died, my friend married his "lady friend", and that didn't bother me much.  Maybe because he's older, I understand more that he might not be willing/able to go it alone? 

So it's harder to imagine G's young husband going out on the dating scene with other 20-somethings?  I worry more that he'll end up with someone who won't be as wonderful and loving to their little girl as G would have been? 

I have no idea.  It was just something I've been thinking about.  I have no right or reason to judge, and I do want him to be happy, and I'm sure there will be a balance between keeping G's memory alive and cherished, and moving on.  It was hard for me to acknowledge how much it bothered me though to think he might be moving on now, what feels like right after G left us. 

Most of all, I want to do my best most of all to be supportive of my best friend as she goes through the emotions that will come with this.  And I guess I'll just not say or do anything to G's husband -- obviously I wouldn't criticize him, but I just don't know how I could "like" a status about dating at this point -- but for his sake, I hope some of his close friends do, so he knows it's okay for him to move on, and so he knows he has loving support behind him. 

Anyway, just curious to see what others think, about how soon is too soon, and whether there are different answers for remarriage after divorce, after sudden and unexpected death, or after expected death.

It's what's on my mind today! 


  1. Wow, so this is a hard one. I really think that 6 months is pretty quick, especially considering the fact that he does have a 4-year-old. I would think that he's barely getting a handle on his own grief, caring for his daughter, and all that comes with single parenthood. He may be looking for an outlet to get away from everything. No matter what, he's got a difficult road ahead, and I feel for him.

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  3. OK I didn't mean to delete the comment. Here it goes again...
    It breaks my heart to hear of someone dying so young with a small child. My heart goes out to the husband as well. It is a very sad situation. I would sincerely hope that my husband wouldn't be ready to date after only 6 months. I would expect him to date eventually, but perhaps after a year or more. However, I know everyone is different.

    It sort of bothers me that he put it out there on his Facebook page. I know everyone is different and people find it very easy to share things on FB, but something like this should maybe stay private or amongst close friends and family.

  4. This is a tough one. I'll be honest, I started dating pretty much as as soon as my first marriage ended - a man who was my best friend became more than that (and we're still together 13 years later).

    After a death? It's so hard to say. 6 months seems soon - but you said she was sick for a year, so he knew he was going to lose her. In truth, doesn't that shorten the mourning period? I do hope he finds someone who will love his little girl though.

  5. So you guys basically think what I do -- that it's kind of awkward and maybe a bit soon. I'm fine with someone dating a week after a divorce, and maybe 6 months is okay after a long illness (maybe more like a year), and probably longer if it was a sudden death.

    I more than anything wish he wasn't in this situation, and I know it's not my place to judge, I just wanted to get a handle on it since I was thinking about it so much.

    Maybe being young, he didn't think about how people might react, so FB probably wasn't the best place to opine on the dating pool in his town -- I really hope G and my bestie's mom didn't see that -- or that if she did, she knew it was coming and she (and G's dad) had already been encouraging G's husband that it was okay.

    I just hope he is careful, putting his daughter's needs above his own in many ways.