I’d like to introduce this article by acknowledging that I understand how sensitive this issue may be for some. I know this is a very delicate situation and I did my best not to offend or insult anyone. I did not write as a social worker, but rather as a daughter who lost her mother, who’d like to see her father happy again with someone he can share his life with. Yes, it’s different when the children are in their mid-40s, but I did my best. Neither I nor the letter writer is judging anyone. I published this letter because if one person is thinking about this, then maybe more are. I realize that no two situations like the one written below are the same, so what is good for one family may not be good for another.
I can’t stress enough that everyone has to do what is right for them and their family.
I held onto this article for a few weeks after I finished it. I wasn’t comfortable sending it in. So, I called someone in this situation, basically asking her permission to publish it. I told her I would not be hurt or offended if she’d rather I not address the subject. She said it was fine and she knew I’d do my best to help others understand.
This is going to paint me in a bad light, so I created this alias email account. I’m not using my real name.
I want everyone to be happy and everyone deserves to be married or in any type of relationship they want. But I’m wondering how long one spouse is supposed to mourn if the other passed away. I’m referring to all couples and families: those who are considered relatively young, where [young] children are involved, as well as couples married for many decades.
Within the last two years, people in my neighborhood lost their spouse, and unfortunately young children were left behind, too. Then, less than a year later, people are wishing the surviving spouse a mazal tov on his/her new engagement. I don’t want to sound rude or crass, but I think about this all the time. Isn’t it like replacing the spouse that passed away because it’s being done so quickly? What do the children think? And with the older couples, after 40 years of marriage, husbands and wives appear to move on pretty quickly after their spouses, their best friends for more than half their lives, have passed away.
Again, I don’t want to say that almans/almanos need to wait “x” amount of time before dating or marrying again. But I wonder about the ones with young kids that move on quickly.
Ilana, thank you for your letter.
I’ll try to address this as best I can. Let me first respond as Goldy Krantz, a wife, mother, sister, and as someone who has lost a parent and wants her other parent to be happy again – not as Goldy Krantz, LMSW.
Please know that it hurts me to even reply to this letter, because I am now thinking about all of the spouses and children who had to suffer through losing their best friend/parent and all that goes along with it. One should never know from this. If I understand you correctly, you are referring to a parent/spouse passing away and in what seems like the blink of the eye, the living spouse moves on by marrying again, giving the children a new “mommy” or “tatty,” and sometimes moving and getting pulled away from their friends and school in order to begin their “new life.” Is that right?
I think it’s important to know that no one is trying to replace the spouse or parent for their child(ren) who passed away. But life must continue. Do you know what the proper amount of time to wait is for an alman or almanah to begin dating again? There is no “right amount of time.” Everyone has to do what is right for them and their family.
Let me ask you a question, Ilana: Do you think the deceased spouses/parents (young, middle aged, or older) want their families and loved ones to not move on? Don’t you think they each would want to see their spouse happy again and their children in a stable, happy home, one that isn’t filled with sadness all the time? Yes, children do need routine and stability in order to feel safe, but should the normality of home life be a depressed place where Mommy or Tatty is thought of all the time and everything done reminds them of him/her? They would know what to expect every day and their everyday life would have the routine of sadness, mourning, etc. That’s not healthy either.
Nothing is as simple as it sounds. “They are moving on.” Not exactly. They have to keep living for their own sake and the sake of their [small] children (if any). They will mourn their spouse, but is it up to the public as to how long they should grieve or how many months or years should pass before they begin dating again? No. These are hard decisions that these individuals make along with talking with their children (young and older) and trying to do what’s best by them. Parents will speak with their children about dating and getting married as they feel fit and appropriate, and I’m sure they will tell their children that the new parent isn’t replacing their other one. The young children (most probably) won’t refer to the “new parent” by the same name they called the parent who passed away. Parents don’t just spring it on their children: “Hey, guess what? I started dating again and I found someone I love and who loves me. We’re getting married and moving in with them.” I’m sure all, if not most children, see a therapist after losing a parent, so they can make sense of what is happening in their life. The parent isn’t irresponsible and pops this surprise on them. It’s spoken about as a family and most probably in therapy. It’s something that is thought of and dealt with very carefully.
It is beyond devastating when you lose the best friend you have shared everything with for the past 2-to-50 years. Do you think it’s easy for them to get back in the dating pool? But they need to build a life for themselves, as well. Sometimes some almans and almanos can’t be a single parent to their children, work, and taking care of all that goes into running a house, as well taking care of their own needs. This is a very difficult step to take and must be dealt with as such. Instead of thinking that the spouse is replacing their deceased spouse and parent of their children, think how wonderful it is that the spouse has found happiness again. And believe me, they have taken their children into account, wondering if this will be a good decision for the kids, as well. It’s not just dating and marrying for one (for the younger/middle aged people); there are children to take into consideration, who are a huge part of the equation. The children will feel loved, safe, and happy. No one is replacing anyone. Life is continuing.
Imagine that the deceased spouse/parent passed away from an illness and had been sick for months or even years. Haven’t the children and living spouse suffered enough? Aren’t they allowed happiness without others looking on and thinking, as well as saying, “Tsk, tsk. It’s not even a year!” Who is anyone to judge them? The same applies for the seniors who find themselves alone after sharing their life with their best friend for decades. They raised their family and now wake up and come home to an empty house with memories everywhere they look. Many times, the seniors are the ones who can’t take the loneliness of being left behind. Sometimes they need to have someone in their lives. Who wants to grow old alone?
Ilana, I know you didn’t ask out of malice, but this is the real answer from a real person without going through all the therapeutic BS – which some of it really is. This is a delicate situation, and parents – who are people, as well (they weren’t born as parents) – deserve happiness. They need to move on. The kids need stability, too. They lived through such a tragedy. They need a healthy dose of normalcy.
I am sure they themselves may be wondering what people are thinking and saying about them because they have “moved on so quickly.” But this is one of those times when you remember what your mother told you when you were younger: “It doesn’t matter what other people think. You have to do what’s right for you.” And that’s exactly what they are doing.
Hatzlachah to you all.