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Dear Annie: I'm widowed, still in love, but lonely

A woman holds wedding rings in the palm of her hand

Dear Annie My husband died in an accident less than a year ago. He was the love of my life and I still think about him every day – but I’m so lonely.

I recently met a lovely man, who is understanding and already seems serious about me, but I can’t shake the feeling of guilt whenever I see him. I feel there’s a connection and I don’t want to lose him, but I’m wavering. What should I do? – EG

Annie says: I’m so terribly sorry you lost your husband, the love of your life – and in such a sudden way. Of course you still think about him. It is still a very recent bereavement. I know approaching the year mark can come with a sense of pressure that one should have somehow moved on and gotten over it, but this perspective deeply misunderstands the true nature of grief - it doesn't have an end.

It’s wonderful that you’ve met someone who clearly cares for you very much and it sounds from what you say that he is quite committed to you and the relationship. I imagine that also adds to the pressure you feel to ‘move on’. And yet, as you say, you feel guilty being with him, as though your heart is elsewhere. It’s hard to feel two conflicting feelings – you both like this new man and don’t want to lose him, and yet you also still love your husband and miss him.

I really want to encourage you to take things slowly. Have faith that if this new man is right for you, he will be able to understand that this adjustment is going to be bumpy, and lengthy, and he will stick around throughout. Talk to him about this – make space for your husband in this relationship.

The risk is that if you don’t make space for these inevitable and understandable feelings of pain and sadness at the loss of your husband, the new relationship will never actually be able to develop and forge together. So ironically, letting yourself love your husband, as you do, will help enable you to enter more wholeheartedly into a new relationship. I wish you well on this journey.

If you’ve lost someone close to you, or been affected by a bereavement, psychotherapist Annie Broadbent is here to help. If you have a question for her to answer in this column, write to her at DearAnnie@funeralzone.com

About Annie

Annie Broadbent is a trained psychosynthesis counsellor, with specialist experience working with the bereaved. As a therapist she explores the mind, body, feelings and spirit, working with individuals in a way that is most appropriate for them.

She is the author of bestselling book Speaking of Death (What the Bereaved Really Need), inspired by personal experiences of living through bereavement, including her own. Whilst writing her book, Annie volunteered at St Christopher's Hospice and has given a number of talks on issues around grief, bereavement and mental health.

Regretfully, Annie cannot enter into personal correspondence