Feeling Stuck in Grief Between The Past and Present

Feeling Stuck in Grief Between The Past and Present

Dear Laura,

My lover died a little over two years ago. I would be ok with never dating again because I am still so in love with E., however, to get my children and my friends off my back about “going on with my life” I agreed to go out with R. R. is like the perfect mate (for someone else) and he is aware that I will never love him because of E. I apologize to E. daily for cheating on him. R. is getting extremely attached and I don’t want to break his heart. Now what?? How do I break it off with R., or should I? If I do, I go back to harassment about “getting over” E. Quite frankly, I enjoy the sex with R. and I can tolerate his presence on a limited basis. I am perfectly aware that I am using him (I go through guilt about that daily). Bottom line – Use R., make him happy, my family satisfied or go back to living for the dead? Both options seem wrong.
Signed Lost love

Dear Lost,

You’re right, both options are wrong. Did it ever occur to you that there may be other choices than the ones you outlined? Ones that don’t involve using R., stuffing your own feelings, or living for your family? Your judgment has been a bit clouded and you haven’t been thinking straight…it happens…both in grief, and without.

So let’s start with a deep cleansing breath.

1.) You owe it to R. to break it off and be clear that you don’t see a future with him. It’s never a good idea to be involved with someone if you feel you can only barely tolerate their presence on a limited basis. Since R. is such ‘a great guy for someone else,’ set him free to find that someone else! Quit keeping him around because you think that’s easier than dealing with the alternatives. It’s not.

Unless you are both 100% in agreement that your relationship will be physical only, don’t have any more sex with him. Using someone for your own gratification when they have feelings for you is not a good plan. It costs your spirit a lot – far more than any physical pleasure you might momentarily gain.

2.) Tell your friends and family that you are doing the best you can and to back off. Grief is an intimate and personal thing. No two people will ever grieve the same. Catering to the pressures from your family at the expense of your own heart and spirit is never a good idea. Remember, you are still here, your journey is still happening. You have needs, you have feelings, and you have a lot of stress building up from trying to please everyone except yourself. Let your family know that you are looking for something other than what you and R. have, and be firm. If they love R. so much, then they can date him. He’s going to be available.

Your family and friends mean well but they have greatly misfired. It happens. Explain to them that you are in your own process-and try as they might-no one can hit the fast forward button for you. Only you know what is right for you. Reassure them that you are working on yourself and trying some new directions. Then…

3.) Start tending to the unmet needs of your spirit. You said you are still in love with E. That’s normal. It’s okay to be open to dating, but it is your job to only date the people who are a great match for your needs. Period. And as soon as you realize someone is not a great fit for you, let them go. Check your course and keep moving forward. Remember, our needs change as we change. You are involved in a process: it’s called healing. It’s not a destination, it’s an ongoing journey. One that will ebb and flow everyday. Do your best to understand it, respect it, and work with it.

4.) Connect with others who are only looking for companionship or friendship-new sets of friends to go to sporting events with, out to dinner with, to the movies, theatre, etc. Don’t date just to silence the family masses. It’s not fair to those you date, AND it’s not fair to yourself or your spirit. Remember, you aren’t aiming to replace E., there was only one of him. He was irreplaceable. You are opening up to new people and new experiences based on your needs right now.

5.) Get thyself to a grief support group. Network with others who have lost their partners. They may become an integral part of a new friendship circle. They’ll offer support and encouragement as you stand up to your family and follow your heart. They will understand what you are going through. You need that.

6.) As impossible as it seems, there is always the chance that you will fall in love again, should the right opportunity present itself. And that will not be something you will have to ‘tolerate’ or ‘get through.’ It will be something that feels right and natural on all levels. Different, but still good.

Right now, today, you have the power to start making choices that nurture and support where you are. You are in a healing process friend, and that takes much patience and understanding. I wish you well as you discover the infinite number of options that await you. (Not just two.) Much peace to you in your healing process friend.

Ancient Stardust