When Veronica and I started dating there were literally hundreds of things that attracted me to her - everything from her beautiful smile to her loyalty - but if I am honest, there were some challenges too. Veronica's heart was still broken. She was still in love with another man. And whether I liked it or not, none of that was going to change. Vee had found love in Jeremy. She and Jeremy had built a life together, raised children together, laughed together, and grown together. So after Jeremy's death, Vee grieved. She grieved her friend, her partner, her lover, and the father of their children. While Vee and I shared many fun time together as we were dating, our new relationship caused her to grieve Jeremy at each new turn. This is not to say that there weren't "grief free moments." In fact, the largest part of our relationship has not been centered around grief but has been focused on what we have found in each other. Yet each new and exciting benchmark in our relationship brought bittersweet moments for her.
It may be tempting to go into a relationship with a widow in hopes that the love for their deceased spouse will fade away, or that eventually they will cease to talk about them, or that one day their grief will pass - but in my opinion that is a false hope that is doomed to fail. Their past formed them into their present. Jeremy's life, actions, attitudes, love, and even death helped to mold Vee into the beautiful person that she is today. There is no way for me to understand Vee, who she is, and how she came to be that way without understanding and accepting the various ways she came to me. Therefore, I couldn't go into our relationship without fully embracing all of Vee, including her grief.
It was then I realized that there is a very small but very important distinction between being "ok" with the grief journey and "embracing" grief with the woman that you love. Being "ok" with another person's grief means that it doesn't bother you when they are sad, reminiscing, or broken-hearted because of the loss of their love - but it fails to show the commitment that you will walk beside them in their grief journey. "Embracing" grief means that you'll walk that path with them. I don't feel the depths of Vee's pain. I don't understand what its like to lose a spouse. This does not stop me, however, from listening to stories about Jeremy, asking questions about him and their relationship, talking to Faith, Caleb, and Carter about their daddy, helping plan special celebrations and memorial ideas for Jeremy with Vee and our kids, and holding Vee as she cries and misses Jeremy. I choose each day to walk with Vee in her grief. Somedays it can be an relatively normal path and other days it is painful. But I am committed to always walking it with her.
Is it always easy?
Is it always comfortable?
Is it always convenient?
You guessed it.... No, again!
But at the end of the day I walk away knowing that I have something more valuable than I could ever dream of, I have the love of a beautiful woman who is willing show her heart to me even when its painful and allow me to be the person she leans on, looks to for support, and loves unconditionally. And that, my friends, is far more valuable than just being "ok" with her grief and far more realistic than hoping that one day her grief will pass.
Ps - I want to make an open invitation for any and all questions you might have, especially those of you who are dating or getting ready to marry a widow... or widows who are dating or looking at getting re-married. I don't have all the answers, but I am willing to be transparent and hopefully our story can be of some assurance for you!