But that's a bit long, kind of like a chapter heading for a Victorian novel.
Still, it's an important question, involving loneliness, guilt, desire, family dynamics, and a host of other factors that can make that particular transition a very rough passage.
Or it can be a blessing, a doorway onto a joyous part of life.
Death of a spouse is the top stress-producing 'event' in life. It's an earthquake, a tidal wave, a forest fire, a mugging.
When it happens fast, it leaves you breathless, disoriented, and fighting for some sort of cohesion, some kind of security.
When it happens slowly, it grinds joy out of life with each granite-bound minute. It takes the colors from the sky(the Rolling Stones' song "Paint It Black" deals with this topic in a touching way...whatever you think of the band, give the song a listen here).
And life has to go on. The survivor has to move forward. 'Dying of a broken heart' is a nice poetic conceit, but it usually doesn't happen...and would your husband or wife want you to die because you can't live without them?
What kind of legacy is that?
Some of us - myself included - would never consider remarriage, and would look at bereavement as a sort of lifetime hermitage.
But not everyone's a closet ascetic. There are "people who need people", and they wilt in solitude.
(Aside from that, my doctor says I'm dying, and I really don't want my wife to wear black for the next 30 years.It's just not part of her color wheel.)
The Bible sets a mourning period of forty days. Life resumes after that. But try selling that to your family and your in-laws! You'll be accused of disloyalty to a memory, and whoever you may start seeing will likely be ostracized. (Interesting how we follow the Bible when it suits us, but it's 'from another time and culture' when it doesn't mesh with our sentimental nature, but I digress.)
One of the arguments against a quick assuagement of loneliness is rebound. I hate to say this, but every new relationship, no matter how long it waits after the end of a previous one, is taken on the rebound. To assume that life goes back to 'normal' after death is unrealistic. Death of a spouse is a traumatic amputation of the soul.
You have to go on.
Your children may want your life to become a living monument to a lost parent. They, as adults, may want to be able to visit 'home' and be able to visualize things just as they were.
You don't owe them that.
You may feel guilty, having emotions for another person when the smiling portrait of your dead mate is looking down from the wall.
Don't make your life sad and lonely, and pin it on your lost marriage...doing that merely denies every good thing you had, and is a slap in the face to the loved and lost.
The measure of the truth and honesty of love is this -
Will the love we gave bestow upon our mate the courage and hope to reach out again, after we're gone?
This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage. If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information.