So it's well known that men and women process grief differently. I mean, men and women pretty much do everything differently, right? So what I'm about to relate will probably have some truth ring to it for men (at least, if they're honest), and maybe not so much for women.
For me, the hardest stretch since Aimee died started in about February of last year, roughly 2-3 months after her death. The shock and numbness had worn off. A new routine had kind of settled in, requiring less deliberate thought.
And I got lonely.
I mean, really lonely. "Desperate" is the word that comes to mind.
My response to this was to decide that I wanted to begin dating again. As in right now, if not yesterday. I even joined a dating site to begin meeting people. I didn't care that it had only been 2-3 months. I didn't care that I was still in a lot of pain over Aimee's death. I needed companionship, and I needed it now.
Let's just say, it didn't go very well.
In all, I only ended up meeting two women for coffee, and I didn't see either of them a second time. I quickly realized that being with someone else might make me feel better on the surface, temporarily, but that if I pursued anything more serious, people were probably going to get hurt. I just couldn't do that.
The bottom line is, these experiences did nothing to make me feel better about my loss. It was a horrible few months, and it only got better slowly. I missed Aimee so badly, but her being with me wasn't an option, so I wanted someone, anyone, else. Luckily, I suppose, that really didn't work out. But that doesn't mean I didn't want it to work out. Like I said, I was desperate, and in a lot of pain.
I began this post describing the difference between men and women in grief. I did so because over the last year I've checked out a number of other blogs by those who've lost spouses, and they're all by women. And they pretty much all seemed to have had absolutely zero desire to begin seeing other people during the first year (or even several years). Or at least, I didn't see where any of them talked about it. They did express loneliness, but not a desire to alleviate it by getting back into dating. These women seemed to prefer to stay focused on the grieving process without getting involved in a new relationship, and do so for quite a bit longer. Men? Well, to be blunt, we're weaker and we want another woman in our lives because they'll comfort us and make us feel better. And let's face it, some men can't really take care of themselves or their kids nearly as well as their wives, either. I'm not being critical, it's just a fact in many families.
(Gladly, I take GREAT pride in being able to function at a high level on my own in regards to running the Rhoads household. A partner to help me would be awesome, but I don't need a wife to help me.)
For some of the guys who do move on quickly, it doesn't always necessarily turn out to be a bad thing. I have two good friends who lost their wives, and my mom is friends with another. All three were remarried within a year. And by all accounts, all three seem to be happy and have good marriages with the women they married following their spouse's passing. Before Aimee's death, I might have been a bit surprised that someone might move on so fast. Now, I totally get it. If things had gone a little differently for me, that might have been my road as well.
I am thankful now that it wasn't.
PS. I think this fundamental difference leads women to often be very disapproving of men who do jump right back into dating after losing their spouse. I think they see it as tremendously disrespectful to the late wife. Trust me, it's not our intent. We're just in unbearable pain, and only know one way to address it. I'm not saying we're right or that women are wrong - I'm just explaining the difference.