DEAR ABBY: Widower finds companionship, but isn’t yet ready for romance

Abigail Van Buren
Advice Columnist

DEAR ABBY: My wife died of cancer four years ago. She was my best friend, and the pain of losing her was more than I could cope with. I was in a fog for about two years, just going through the motions. Eventually the fear of spending the next 20 to 30 years alone drove me to try internet dating. I met some nice women and some very strange ones, but nothing came of it. Then a year ago, an old friend introduced me to “Elaine.” We hit it off immediately. We share the same interests and offbeat sense of humor, and I have grown fond of her. She’s intelligent, kind and easy on the eyes. Our grown kids get along very well.

Our mutual friend told me that Elaine said she loves me and would be thrilled if I proposed — I guess to encourage me to the next level. My problem is, I’m still in love with my late wife. 

If Elaine one day tells me she loves me, how do I respond without hurting her feelings or making her withdraw? I can see myself loving her in the future, but I am still silently mourning my wife. I don’t want to chase Elaine away, so please tell me what to do. — NEW YORK WIDOWER

DEAR WIDOWER: You and Elaine appear to have a communication problem. You are both adults. If she has fallen in love with you, you shouldn’t have to hear it from a mutual friend. 

You owe it to her to have a frank talk with her because she needs to know that you don’t intend to remarry until you are over the loss of your late wife. She may decide to stick it out and wait or, as you say, decide to move on. But at least she’ll know what she’s dealing with. It might also be a good idea for you to consult a grief therapist. Because if you do, it may make it easier for you to move forward with your life.