How soon can a widow begin dating?

I don’t know if there is any church guidance on this issue, but I am curious what others think. An acquaintance of mine lost her husband suddenly in an accident about six months back. She is a SAHM with three small kids and is in her early thirties.

Within in two months of his death, she began dating someone new. As far as I know, they don’t have an intimate relationship, but she views him as more than a friend and as a potential new husband. She made the somewhat questionable decision to tell her late husband’s family that she is seeing someone. They were extremely angry and upset, swore at her, accused her of cheating on their son while he was alive and of disrespecting his memory. It’s put some distance between her kids and their grandparents at a time when the kids need so much support.

So, does the church have anything to say on this issue? Since marriage is “until death do us part,” it would seem that once a spouse has died, the other is free to see other people. I know a year of mourning used to be considered customary, but was that just a tradition or any sort of rule? I know she is young and lonely, and I don’t begrudge her companionship, but two months just seems too soon

“I know she is young and lonely, and I don’t begrudge her companionship, but two months just seems too soon”
Obviously you do begrudge her companionship or you wouldn’t be posting about it here. You know nothing about her marriage or their relationship. If she chooses to date or even be intimate with another man, it is not your business. If she goes to your church and takes communion that is also not your business. Butt out.

Rule of thumb is generally one year.

What’s that?

I can’t imagine that a person could have been very much in love with another is after years of marriage and a sudden death she/he were already dating. The natural grieving period is about two years. Some people do act out by dating not because they didn’t love the other person, but because they feel they must always be with someone. That is a psychological problem.In any case, it doesn’t sound very healthy to me.

I don’t think there’s any rule, that it’s “Till death…”, not “Till death” plus one year. I think the tradition is one year, but I think she’s free to date now if she wishes.

Sounds rather judgmental to me, especially for a “not catholic”. Maybe you should “butt out” or at least work on your manners.

Morally there isn’t required to be a waiting period after death although good taste and the grieving process of losing someone you love dictate 1-2 years.

There are no rules for these things. People grieve at different rates and in different ways. Naturally there is danger in rushing into another relationship too soon, but this is more a psychological question than a religous/moral one.

2 months seems very fast. With young children and the husband’s family still in mourning, this seems to be very rash. But no, there’s no rules or customs to prohibit it.

Sounds rather judgmental to me, especially for a ‘catholic’. Maybe you should…follow your own advice. :wink:

2349 “People should cultivate [chastity] in the way that is suited to their state of life. Some profess virginity or consecrated celibacy which enables them to give themselves to God alone with an undivided heart in a remarkable manner. Others live in the way prescribed for all by the moral law, whether they are married or single.” Married people are called to live conjugal chastity; others practice chastity in continence:

There are three forms of the virtue of chastity: the first is that of spouses, the second that of widows, and the third that of virgins. We do not praise any one of them to the exclusion of the others. . . . This is what makes for the richness of the discipline of the Church.

922 From apostolic times Christian virgins and widows, called by the Lord to cling only to him with greater freedom of heart, body, and spirit, have decided with the Church’s approval to live in the respective status of virginity or perpetual chastity “for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.”

1537 The word order in Roman antiquity designated an established civil body, especially a governing body. Ordinatio means incorporation into an ordo. In the Church there are established bodies which Tradition, not without a basis in Sacred Scripture, has since ancient times called taxeis (Greek) or ordines. And so the liturgy speaks of the ordo episcoporum, the ordo presbyterorum, the ordo diaconorum. Other groups also receive this name of ordo: catechumens, virgins, spouses, widows,. . . .

Someone posts a legitimate question about re-marriage, maybe to help her friend, maybe for her own curiosity, or else, and a response is “butt out”? Responding to insensitivity directly is not the same as instigating it.

The Church has no rule. Wisdom dictates a mourning period before forming a new romantic attachment because of the risk of making unwise decisions during the very emotional period after the loss of a spouse. We should be charitable and not judge others as we do not know their interior lives.

For the poster who enquired above - SAHM is short for “stay-at-home mother”.

There’s no rule on this. It used to be customary for a year mourning period. However, I can see how a young woman who was a stay at home mother might not want to be alone for very long.

I don’t know if it’s wrong or not but it does seem to tell me that her love for her husband wasn’t that much or that deep if she’s able to even think about dating someone in 2 months! It takes me that long just for it to really hit me that a person is really gone let alone moving forward. So she must have been out of love with her husband long before he died and now this is her opportunity to find someone else according to her. That’s how I see it. It may not be wrong but it looks bad. It took me 2 years to get another cat after my cat died and that was an animal, no way would I be ready after 2 months of losing a husband! Wrong or not, it does make it look like she didn’t really love her husband. Unless she’s one of those people who do crazy things when she’s grieving. Some people do strange out of character things when grieving. :shrug: So it’s hard to say, but it does look bad.

The very sudden loss of a loved one often results in being in a state of shock. This is often associated with a feeling of emotional numbness. This can also cause a person to experience PTSD. I suspect that not only is she not done grieving already, she most likely has not begun the grieving process yet. It will take time for it to become “real” to her.

I think she needs lots of prayers, love, and support. The man she is dating will need the same, because odds are he is heading for heartbreak once her numbness wears off.

As the poster above says, you can’t conclude anything about the state of this poor lady’s previous marriage just because she is seeking male companionship soon after being widowed. She is a young woman with 3 children, she has no job to go to to occupy her mind. She must feel very lonely.

Indeed. And the other points about the state of shock are right on. I’d be far less worried that this “looks bad” than I’d be concerned that she’s very vulnerable and could fall into a bad situation. Hopefully this fellow is not trying to exploit someone who is grieving. I imagine that since he’s been around for months that he may yet be a decent guy. I don’t know. :shrug:

But I will say again the notion of “disrespecting the memory” of a husband is nothing compared to the real possibility that a vulnerable person could be exploited.

I don’t know about traditional Catholic practice, but traditional mourning for a widow was one year.

In my family, there’ve been two widowers who remarried with shocking haste, and they both paid the price. One was an elderly guy who was rapidly divorced (on very unfavorable financial terms given the length of the marriage–he had had her sign a prenup that was actually pretty terrible for him). The other was a young man who lost a wife in an accident, and within several months after her death, he’d gotten a woman pregnant and married her. As time demonstrated, the new wife has a terrible, terrible temper and the two of them have horrifying public Facebook conversations.

I listen to Dave Ramsey, the radio personal finance guy, and he always tells the newly widowed not to do anything big with money for six months, as their minds just aren’t working right while grieving.

It adds an extra wrinkle that the OP’s friend has children at home. I think I would direct her to some advice columns on the web about dating and remarriage when there are children, and to not introduce the new person to the children for a very long time. The standard secular advice is go very, very slow. If she isn’t in some sort of grief counseling or support group, that would be another good next step.

It may be impossible to talk her into slowing down now that the train has left the station, though. You might get better luck by talking about how to date, under her circumstances, rather than whether to date at all.

Best wishes!

Really? Unless you’re in her shoes you know NOTHING about her love for her husband, or the state of her marriage at the time of his death.

I’m sorry that this person that you don’t know isn’t grieving “hard enough” for your tastes and you think you can judge her character or the strength of her marriage.

God forbid my husband dies young- I’m not just going to sit at home crying about how sad my life is- we’ve had this discussion and that’s not what either of us would want for the other. For crying out loud this woman has been through all of the major holidays without her husband at this point, and if SHE feels it’s time to start living her life again, more power to her.

This is also the reason that all of our non-cash assets are held in- so that if God forbid one of us die, that the surviving spouse can’t be taken for a ride by a gold digger.

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