“How soon after bereavement should I start a new relationship, and how do I begin?”

As a matchmaker and dating agency owner, I have heard this question so many times over the years, as I have helped many bereaved people to move on after a loss.

The loneliness that can descend after losing a husband or partner can be particularly acute, and it is especially hard when your relationship was a very long-standing one.

When marriages of 30 or 40 years or even longer are suddenly snatched away, it is a seismic shock to your existence.

All those years spent living, loving, laughing, and crying together are suddenly history, never to come back. It is as if a chapter has firmly closed on your book of life. Even after a prolonged illness and facing the finality of death, the shock can induce delayed waves of grief.

Time Is the Healer

And then time works its wonders. Bereavement counsellors tell us that there are five stages to work through – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – and indeed I have witnessed this on numerous occasions.

However, at some point after acceptance – and that moment will vary from one person to another – there will be a ‘good time’ to move on, accept your new life, and make some peace with it.

From that calmer state of mind you will then start to wonder what the next chapter in your life can offer, whether you want to make changes, and ultimately, whether you want to start looking for a new partner to share your future with.

I have found that normally, somewhere between the first and second year after a death, the bereaved person is ready to take initial steps to meet someone new.

Stepping Out

Social life may begin anew with accepting invitations from friends and family to attend social gatherings, and that is often a good start.

Your first steps going out again as a singleton may at first seem daunting and even discouraging, but perseverance will help you to adjust to your new life. So, just stick with it and know that your friends will be pleased to see you making some progress.

Take small steps if necessary – even trips to the shops alone are hard for some people, but you will manage and overcome each hurdle you face.

With practice comes confidence, so add other interesting outings to your agenda. Enjoy a visit to a local garden centre, a National Trust or other heritage property, or take a walk on the beach. Wherever you go, make sure that you speak to people.

The 3-Person Rule

Adopt the three-person rule, so that whenever you go out in public, you WILL speak to three strangers. It doesn’t matter how short your conversations are – you can compliment someone on something, you could admire the dog they are walking, or you can simply discuss the weather briefly with a person waiting in line with you.

You may be surprised that far more people than we can ever imagine are lonely and will welcome your ‘hello’.

Listen Fully

And don’t forget to listen! If you don’t listen, you will be unable to respond effectively. Some conversations will be short, but some people will be glad to have met you.

They will respond eagerly to your friendliness, so you will make a good impression by picking up on what they say and responding appropriately.

Smile

Then the next rule is, once you are talking, do remember to smile. A smile opens up the soul and welcomes people into your world.

It doesn’t matter what friendly words you utter, if you are not smiling at least intermittently, the person you are talking to will imagine that you want to keep your distance, so they will keep theirs.

Try Something New

Then step up your outings, take up interests you never had the time for previously, visit long lost friends, join social clubs, go on that blind date that your friend suggests, go to the village dance, join a dating agency. People will want to meet you and get to know you. You will make new and very special friends.

Building the New You

In time, you will meet someone who sweeps you off your feet. I firmly believe that there is someone out there in the world for each of us. None of us needs or deserves to be alone.

The key to building a successful future is to develop your personal energy and use it to embrace the possibilities that will surely come to you. If you do this then a new partner will walk into your life when the time is right and when you are ready, willing, and able to welcome them with open arms.

Have you found love again after bereavement? What did you do to bring love into your life the second time around? Please join the conversation.

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