Dear Coleen: I'm ready to date but worry I will upset my late wife’s family

Dear Coleen

It's been two years since my amazing wife died after a short and brutal battle with cancer. We met when we were 18 and stayed together for 30 years until she passed away.

We had two children together, who are 20 and 23, and they are busy living their own lives in different parts of the country. I’m still only 50 and want to start living my life again but when is the right time to start having an active social life, including the possibility of a serious relationship?

I have dated a couple of women briefly but neither turned into anything special. To be honest, my kids weren’t thrilled, which put me off. I’ve also found my friends and other family members are quite protective of me (probably overprotective) in that they’re involved in my life and want to know everything – where I’m going and who I’m seeing.

My wife’s death did hit me hard, so I know it’s coming from a good place and they’ve always been there for me. However, I need to find a way of telling them to back off a little without upsetting them. Any ideas on how I should go about it?

Coleen says

The first thing to say is, you are on the right track, so keep moving forward. As I’ve said many times in this column, grief is a very personal process and we all have different ideas of when it’s right to start thinking about a new relationship.

You’re the person going through it, so it’s up to you and you alone to make that decision. Meeting and falling in love with someone else doesn’t take anything away from the love you shared or the life you built with your wife.

If, two years down the line, your family and friends are finding that difficult to accept, then it’s a shame, but it shouldn’t stop you from getting out there and living life. It’s very easy for other people – even your kids – to have an opinion on what you should be doing when they’re not the ones feeling lonely.

You don’t have to tell people your every move and, if someone questions what you’re doing, remind them politely that while you really appreciate their support and concern, you deserve the chance to move on with your life, and that’s what you’re going to do.

The same goes for the kids. Yes, you have to be sensitive to the fact that it’s going to be strange for them seeing you with someone else, but I hope they also want you to be happy and can open their minds and their hearts when someone special does come along.

Don't miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond - Sign up to our daily newsletter here.