No matter how old we get, there’s still that little kid in us who clings to the rules of the playground: Before you can take a giant step, you’ve got hear, “Yes, you may.” First, I ran the idea by my sister. Still uneasy, I crafted an anonymous email to George Bonanno, a grief expert whose book, , had rearranged my thinking about the trajectory of grief.“This is uneasy for me to admit: I already feel an inclination to date. “My sadness is with me all the time; but so is the desire to look toward a future.” The response came back: “It is actually very common for people to mourn a loved one but at the same time wish to move on,” he graciously wrote to me. The only problem seems to be when we worry too much that it is somehow not appropriate.” Guilty as charged, but still I needed further permission.“You’ve been grieving since the day Joe was diagnosed.” That felt exactly right. It quieted my anxiety and gave me hope that there would be a new life out there for me when I was ready.
My husband of 24 years had been gone just four months and I was still in the gray fog of early grief.So, at age 54, I did something I hadn’t done in decades: I sought permission.At the time I didn’t articulate it to myself that way. Now I understand how the need for “permission” is keen when we are considering a move that feels unfamiliar or uncharacteristic. “I think it’s great that you’re trying to jumpstart your life,” he responded.I was tantalized by his suggestion that we meet — and a bit horrified to think I could contemplate such a thing.In my head I apologized to Joe while I kept asking myself why I was doing this. I was clear that I was nowhere near ready to date seriously, let alone to partner.