Q: My husband committed suicide a year ago and it's been absolutely horrifying, not only for me but for my 8-year-old son as well.
Recently, I have been trying to date and mingle due to my son's worry I will be alone. I'm 30 and feel as though I'm doing something wrong. When I took my vows, I meant them, so I feel like I'm being unfaithful to my husband. He chose to do what he did, so should I be feeling this guilt when on a date?
A: I am so sorry. That is such a heavy thing to carry with you. Those vows, presumably, were "till death do us part," so they don't impose guilt, they absolve you of it. But also please free yourself of any pressure to date. I realize you want to ease your son's mind now. I fear you could unwittingly hurt him later, though, by reinforcing his idea that alone = bad, or dating = pain relief.
It's okay to be alone while you're healing; it's okay not to be interested in dating, yet or ever; it's okay to be open to having a partner — but also open to being single unless and until you meet a worthy one. It's okay to find companionship through friends, family, colleagues, the regulars at the coffee shop, pets — however it's available — instead of in one specific form over which no one has full control.
And it's okay to address your son's worries with a gentle, firm, loving and consistent adherence to this message. It's a message of inner strength and stability for two people no doubt still staggered by a devastating external blow.