Over the last couple weeks I've received several emails from widowers who are experiencing something akin to survivor guilt. In short, they've fallen in love again and are doing what it takes to make the new woman the center of their universe. Despite having moved forward they feel guilty that their life has changed for the better or that they shouldn't be happy when their late wife is dead.
I think these feelings are normal for widowers especially if their wife suffered a violent death or painful illness. There were times when I was dating and first married to Marathon Girl that I felt like I didn't deserve all the happiness in my life. Looking back, the two things that drove this was 1) residual guilt and feelings of responsibility for my late wife’s suicide and 2) the thought that people who lost a loved one were supposed to be sad.
The feelings of guilt/responsibility are somewhat understandable considering the way she died, but the second one is just silly. Where is it written that those who have lost a husband or wife are supposed to be sad and mournful the rest of their lives or can’t find love or happiness again?
So what should widowers who are experiencing something like survivor guilt do? Remember how blessed you are just to have found love again. Most people are lucky to find true love once. Not everyone can find it twice. Enjoy these happy times because, as those who have suffered loss know, happy and joyful times can be short and fleeting. Even if you remarry and grow old together with a new love, there will be challenging times in your future like unemployment, financial difficulties, sickness, etc. together that all everyone faces. They won't last forever but they will happen. That's why it’s important to realize just how many blessings you have right now and enjoy them. Let these moments of joy soak in and envelop you. Those who are able to open their hearts to someone else have been given a great gift. Don't take it for granted or think something's wrong. There are countless people who would give anything to have what you're experiencing right now.
For all the GOWs and WOWs out there, has your widower dealt with something akin to survivor guilt? If so, how did he get over it? How did you handle it?