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Dear Anyhooo Answers: A Major Family Dilemma – How Soon is Too Soon For a Widow to Remarry?

Dear Ms. Anyhooo,

We have a major family dilemma.

My sister, Janine, was married to Gregg for over 40 years. They had four children and ten grandchildren. Tragically, Gregg was killed in a hunting accident six months ago and Janine just fell apart. She took to the bed and stayed for weeks. No one could get her out of her despair and mourning.

Not until, Walt, the dishwasher repairman showed up.

Within a week, Janine was out of bed, out of the house, at the beauty parlor, at the palates classes, and off to the mall looking for a new wardrobe. We were all very happy for Janine realizing that her acute phase of mourning had pretty much concluded. Someone said, “I thought Aunt Janine would never snap out of it.” Then someone said, “Mom, how did you get out of the funk so abruptly?”
Janine giggled, “The dishwasher broke, and Walt came over to fix it.” Then she proceeded to tell us, “Walt and I are planning on spending the rest of our lives together.” Janine’s youngest daughter screamed, “Mom, Dad just died. How could you do this to us?”

Ms. Anyhooo, most of us are in turmoil over all of this. Isn’t 6 months too short of a time to already be planning a life with someone else? What should we do as a family? Some are already saying they won’t go to the wedding or give Janine and Walt a wedding gift.

Thank you.

Signed Distraught in Delaware.



Ms Anyhooo

Dear Distraught in Delaware,

Well don’t this beat the bug …

I am so sorry for Janine’s and the family’s loss. I am certain Gregg will be dearly missed by all. Precious, death is always difficult to process but when it comes out of the blue in such an accident, it is doubly so. Your sister was married for forty years and the shock must have been overwhelming. Miss Anyhooo is fixin to get her more serious and somber self up to the plate.

So now this is how I see it – there is no right or wrong way to grieve.

As a family, you may want to go over a few aspects to better comprehend what is happening with Janine. It is normal for one in her situation to be in a state of disbelief and shock almost numb. These reactions actually protect us from mentally fragmenting in truly dangerous ways. Once we grasp a full realization that our loved one is gone and not coming back the numbness can give way to feelings of guilt and remorse. Survivors’ guilt and obsessing over what might have been can be debilitating. Below is a brief outline of the Five Stages of Grief:


The Five Stages of Grief - Choosing Therapy


Sugar, I really think this comes down to the family feeling Janine may not have progressed through the above stages and fully processed Gregg’s passing. But does that not mean there is some arbitrary time one takes to get over these things? Well, that cannot be true as we each go through pain in different ways.

Let’s take a look at one of the signs of grieving – acceptance. Ways a person shows they are adjusting in healthy ways is as follows:

  • Restructuring life without the person
  • Cleaning out the loved one’s personal items
  • Working on financial and social problems
  • Seeking out old relationships and support systems or starting and making new ones.
  • Beginning new projects or hobbies

Acceptance does not equate to instant happiness. Rather, acceptance is the stage where a grieving person makes a conscious decision to move on and work towards a feeling of normality again. Most often other than the wish to have the person they love back, it is a sense of normalcy and control they yearn for. Feeling hopeful one can be happy again is a good sign of healing and coping.

Now with all this said…
The family does need to be aware of how emotionally vulnerable a widow or widower would be as they begin to get on with living as there are those who might take advantage of them. Do ya’ll fear Walt is doing so? There is no reason why an open and honest conversation cannot be had with Janine about her protecting her finances and such. Setting boundaries with Walt might make the family feel more comfortable with his being part of your sisters life.

Janine spent four decades loving a man and giving him children and well she is no longer a spring chicken. She is looking ahead to the limited years she has left and her desire not to spend them alone. Loneliness can be more painful than the family might be assuming. Companionship is an important need and especially if she had a close marriage it would be normal for her to fill that void as she feels ready to do so.

A few other things to consider: Grief will be compounded by secondary losses that you may not have considered, for example, some secondary losses that one might experience are the loss of:

  • Companionship
  • Intimacy
  • Identity
  • Friendships
  • Finances

If the family feels that the two need a bit more time before a wedding then sit her down and ask her if she can date a few more months before setting the wedding date. Do not tell her how many more months let her come up with that number if she is open to the suggestion. But make certain you explain the rationale you are asking her to do so with respect and concern for her to process and not cover up her grief, and not to derail her relationship. If she is ready to move on and Walt is a good guy the two of them should be able to give the family a few months to catch up to their joy…right? The approach here is what matters for success.

Oh, and unfortunately sometimes just when you think you’ve found love again, your grief may cause you to spiral into a deep depression for no apparent reason. So waves of emotion is normal. Encouraging Janine to talk about her feelings is very important but if she does not feel you support her choices it could lead to her climbing back under the covers so to speak.

For her children help them remember that honoring their father’s memory is about living and not hibernating under the sheets. She should never be made to feel loving another means she is not loving Gregg. Her love and devotion to Gregg is a given – forty years worth! Help them understand it is wrong to place a stigma on mom dating again. Love is a precious gift that we all deserve and no doubt Gregg wants Janine to feel safe and loved again.

So to Anyhooo summarize here:

  • There is no timeline for moving on in life and loving again.
  • We’re meant to love and be loved.
  • New love is healing.
  • Any concerns should be frankly discussed in a respectful manner. 
  • Loving new does not mean you do not still love your spouse that passed on.

The bottom line is Janine’s life has gone through a huge change. There is no simple answer to this question. It’s UP TO HER to decide what feels right!

Best wishes and with blessings you little haint,

Ms. Anyhooo


Ms. Anyhooo writes for the Right Wire Report, who provides common sense down-to-earth answers to your personal relationships on love, life, and everything in between. Spun from the heart of the Tennessee mountain country, follow her on the hashtag #DearAnyhoooAnswers (save this link to your favorites bookmarks). If you have any questions for Ms. Anywhooo to answer please send them to or Contact Us.

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