When you've been widowed you do, after a time, and rather to your amazement, begin to think about dating again. Some people seem to get back on the horse, so to speak, quite quickly. Bereavement, like the relationship it comes from, is complex and although the general experience might tend to follow a certain course, the detail of each person's grief process is as unique as the marriage they were once part of.
So when I write here about getting used to being a middle-aged singleton, I am writing from my one unique perspective. I know other people have a very different tale to tell - because they are older or younger than I am, because they were newly married or married for forty years, because they were in a happy or an unhappy marriage.
For the first eighteen months or so after the Golfer died, I was not the slightest bit interested in getting hooked up with another man, for a variety of reasons, not all of them commendable.
I felt tremendous guilt for surviving and it would have felt disloyal even to think about "replacing" him.
For that first year and a half, it felt as though he had just gone on a particularly long business trip. I still felt married to him, so the question of finding another man did not occur to me.
I felt as if I had had my 'go' at marriage. The fact that it was over at the age of 47 was tough but I just had to accept it. (I think this might be a difference between being divorced and being widowed - when a marriage ends in divorce I think it might feel as if the marriage got broken and so there is more of an inclination to go out and have another go. Anyone agree with this?)
And now for the guilty secret - I found, even in the early days, moments of delight in the freedom I now had. No more need to check before I moved the furniture round, I could eat when and what I wanted, get up and go to bed when I fancied. Blissfully happy through most of our marriage, in the later years things had started to go downhill and we had found ourselves bickering over the smallest domestic trivia. The release from that was a guilty pleasure, and when I did begin to realise that there might be life after the Golfer, I was damned if I was going to give up all these new freedoms just as I had found them. Unattractive isn't it? But true.
So now, getting on for three years after his death, I pretty much accept and believe that he is dead, and I find myself hankering (sometimes) to have a close and symbiotic relationship again in my life (assuming you don't count the one I have with my dog.) It's hard to be single for the first time in your life, approaching fifty. So far I have been far too cowardly to do anything more than skulk on the internet dating sites - and a very scary experience that is too. But I'm in a quandary, because I really, really, do not want to give up the control I have over my life, and I'm not sure there is a man out there who is capable of dealing with that.