Zinny, Tolu and I were having drinks after work at our favourite place when Zinny suddenly went into Agent Mode “Tolu, turn to you 3:00 but do it stylishly, see that lady on purple…?” Tolu turned stylishly as instructed, and even I peeped out the corner of my eye in the direction Zinny indicated. We saw the pretty lady giggling and chatting with a hunky dude and asked Zinny what the matter was “She is Angela’s elder sister; the one whose’s husband died in an accident last year”. Oh yea! We could remember the story now; Angela was Zinny’s colleague at work and Zinny had even attended the burial of the man. “What is she doing out with a man already” Tolu asked, “I wonder oh”, Zinny responded “Isn’t it too early for her to be dating again?”. “But girls, what if she isn’t dating the guy?” I asked, and quickly regretted that I did, because at that moment, the couple shared a long kiss, before the lady pulled off, checked her time, whispered in the guy’s ears, pecked his cheeks and left.
Obviously she was dating again. Zinny started to gist us about how she was weeping at her late husband’s funeral, that you would have thought she was going to remain single for ever. We were so engrossed in the story, we didn’t even see Oluchi walk into the bar, until she got to our table. Our married friend was able to make the girl’s hangout because her husband was out of town and her kids were spending summer break at her mom’s.
“So what were you ladies talking about?” Oluchi asked, as she took a seat beside Tolu. We intimated her on what we saw and how we were surprised that the young widow was dating again. Calmly, Oluchi asked Zinny if the lady was working; Zinny replied that she was running a small business before the death of her husband. Does she have kids? “Yes, two. They should be like 8 and 5 years old” Zinny replied. Oluchi looked at all three of us incredulously and asked “So why shouldn’t she be dating again? And it’s over a year since her husband died, right? Traditionally, the period of mourning is over!” There was silence from Zinny, Tolu and I, as Oluchi used the opportunity to order for her regular drink. We had been surprised that this lady was dating again, but really, what determines how early a widow should wait before dating?
Some traditions expect a widow to mourn for six months, some demand for a year of mourning, while some take as long as two years. However, people still cringe at the sight of a widow dating…whether it’s been a year or five years since her husband’s passing. I realized that night, that I had unconsciously adsorbed society’s norms, so, I decided to write about it. The way I see it, there are four factors that determines how long a widow should wait before dating again.
1. Cause of spouse’s death/Grief Period
Look at it this way, a woman whose husband had a long battle with a terminal disease most likely came to terms with the fact that he was leaving, even before he died. She would definitely grief over him and would miss him nonetheless, but she wasn’t dealt a blow as that of a woman who kissed her husband goodbye as he went to work in the morning, only to get a call that he died in an accident on the way to work. Sudden deaths are usually more earth-shattering than an almost expected death, thus it takes longer time for the wound to heal. Ultimately the grief period is bound to be longer, and thus, it might take much longer for such widow to attempt going out again. Despite the cause of death, every woman is different and unique; we all grief in different ways and for different lengths of time. A woman who gets back up easily, doesn’t mean she never loved her husband more than the one who takes longer to grief. Sometimes, it’s just a question of our individual idiosyncrasies.
2. Age of Widow
Naturally, most people expect a young widow to date again and attempt re-marriage, more than they do from an older widow. At this time, a woman is hardly thinking about herself, but her children. If she is young, then her children are likely also really young and would need a father figure to help their all-round development. An older widow most likely has grown up kids, who are probably no longer at home, and so do not necessarily need a stand-in father. That was the angle Oluchi came from in her argument, Angela’s sister has little kids that she would need help raising, and so she has to try and find them a step-dad soon. That’s aside the fact that she is still young and very attractive, and would mostly still have needs and urges. One fact of life is that no matter what happens, you just have to move on. If she is kissing passionately already, it means she is probably really lonely and needs the comforting arms of another guys. An older widow most likely has no time or patience for romance; she has spent all the best years of her life with her darling, and so, she can choose to spend the remaining thinking of him and reminiscing on all the memories they built over the years.
3. Support from family
We all rely on family for a lot of things, and even though we do not allow ourselves become doormats to their whips, we generally take their opinions into considerations and frame some of our decisions around these. A widow whose kids are still so hung on their dad’s passing and hate to see her merely smile at a man, would definitely take longer to get back into the dating circle; compared to a widow whose kids encourage her to date and even try to matchmake with their male teachers or something. Kids react to similar situations in different ways. One kid thinks it is an insult on his late father for his mom to be with another guy, while another thinks his mother is withering away from loneliness and needs to start dating again, in order to get her life back. A lot of time, this support from the kids stems from whether they are still grieving over the loss, or whether they have come to terms with circumstances and chosen to make the most of it. Extended family like sisters, aunties, brothers and cousins would also have an opinion about whether you should start seeing someone or not, and most widows factor all these in their decision-making. Of course, a young widow with no children would get more support from her family to date again. Sometimes, she can even get the pressure to marry again when she is not ready to date yet, but as our first point states; the first factor should be whether she is done grieving and ready to date again, before the opinions of family can be factored in.
Of course, this is a factor! If it takes a widow five years after her husband’s passing to meet someone she really fancies and thinks she can have something solid with, then five years it is! If she meets a new man that maybe reminds her of late husband in good ways, shows interest in her as a person, isn’t put off by the fact that she has kids, and they really connect just eight months after her husband passed on, then eight months it is! I would generally advise though, that widows take it slow and keep things hush, to make sure they are entirely on solid ground before they introduce the new guy to family and to the kids. It helps to take things slow, even when you feel you have found the one; trust me, the fact that you are a widow doesn’t stop the bad guys from coming after you. Protect your heart and those of your children, and do a thorough background check.
If you know a widow who is contemplating whether to start dating again or not, please remind her that it’s her life and she has to do what makes her happy.