Carolyn Hax: A reader’s advice on dating after loss

Carolyn Hax
Columnist March 5

While I’m away, readers give the advice.

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

On feeling guilt for dating after a partner’s death:

Several years ago, our darling son died suddenly while recovering from cancer surgery. He had been married to the love of his life 2 years and 11 days when he died. The week he died was also the week the child they had lost would have been born. His wife was mourning the loss of their child when her husband died in her arms.

We were all so shocked and devastated with his loss that much of it is a blur, but somehow, at the end of the funeral, this clear thought entered my mind. I held her hands and told her that he loved her so much that he wouldn’t want her to spend her life alone and miserable.


(Nick Galifianakis/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

I don’t know where these words came from, only that they were important for me to say and her to hear.

A year after he died, she went to lunch with her uncle and he asked her if she would ever consider dating again. She said she had given it some thought and decided that she would not pursue it herself, but if others wanted to fix her up on a blind date they could . . . but just ONCE. It had better be a good one because they only had one chance at it. (She couldn’t bear the idea of being fixed up with anyone and everyone who happened by.)

Later that week, her uncle went golfing and happened to play with a young man he had never met before. By the 18th hole the young man knew the entire story of this beautiful young girl.

The young man is a beautiful person — in fact, he reminds us of our son.

My husband and I did NOT attend the wedding . . . not because we felt any ill will. It was THEIR special time, and we did not want anyone looking from us to them while they exchanged vows.

We are all very close and he respects the relationship between us. If you turn to Love and Light, it will return to you.

C.

On watching as a grown child makes bad relationship choices:

Our son took us down that road and we were literally frightened for him. I am thankful for the power of parental love and plain talks of consequences — particularly when delivered in no-nonsense terms from my Rock-of-Gibraltar husband to our son. There were no theatrics or screaming, just some tears and lots of standing our ground. It was difficult but powerful and our son responded.

Yes, he thought he was in love, but he came to see what we saw, that he was being used and isolated from his own family and close friends.

Parents can’t choose spouses or careers for their children, but we do sometimes have some valuable knowledge when it comes to character assessment. We have told our children that when health and safety are at stake, we will speak up on their behalf, even if it is awkward. That part isn’t negotiable.

A.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com. Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at http://bit.ly/haxpost.

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