Dear Coleen: I feel guilty wanting to date a year after fiancé's shock death

Dear Coleen

I’m a woman in my 30s and, sadly, my fiancé died suddenly nearly a year ago.

It’s been hard but I’ve had amazing support from my family and friends and my employers have also been wonderful. I work in a bakery part time and the rest of the week, I run my own business, baking cakes.

My problem is, I’m feeling lonely, even though I have tons of people around me. Is that weird? I do sometimes think what it would be like to meet someone else but feel so guilty about it.

It’s been on my mind recently because there’s this guy, who I used to know at school, who keeps popping into the bakery. He always seems pleased to see me and looks disappointed if someone else serves him.

He’s lovely and attractive and after snooping a bit on social media, I’ve found out he’s also single. I think he likes me but he’s probably wary of asking me on a date, given my personal circumstances.

I don’t know what I should do to move things on or even if I should try, given it’s only been (almost) a year since my fiancé died. I’d love your opinion.

Coleen says

I’ve spoken to a lot of people going through grief and what I’ve learned over the years is that every person has an element of guilt. Even though my sister Bernie died in 2013, there will be times when I’m really laughing about something and this guilt suddenly hits me, like I’ve forgotten her.

Grief is a natural process and we have to go through it. Thinking about moving forward with your life – and with someone else – doesn’t mean you didn’t love your fiancé and you’ve forgotten him. Your life has to go on.

It sounds like you have amazing people around you but don’t give up the idea of bereavement counselling. As far as this guy goes, just try to get to know him better. It doesn’t mean anything right now, there’s no pressure to throw yourself into dating.

It’s more about having company and feeling engaged with the world and people again. There’s no right time to think about another relationship – some people wait 10years because they have to, while others move on quickly.

And it’s not weird feeling lonely when you’ve been used to having a partner with you 24/7. Yes, you have friends and family, but those relationships are different. If something happened to me, my hope would be that my partner Michael would meet someone else soon and I’m sure your fiancé would have felt the same way.

Finally, don’t base your decisions on what other people might think – this is your life – but be mindful that the first anniversary of your fiancé's death is coming up and that will be a difficult time. Good luck.

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