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Dating again after death of a spouse

"' Jon died, at the age of just 31, in May 2006, Michelle found it hard to watch as friends got on with their lives. Unaware of the moral maze she was entering, she also told Jon's family. When I was with him, I somehow felt I was still close to Jon. 'Jon's friends and family will never accept my behaviour. 'But if I hadn't loved Jon so much and missed him so desperately, I wouldn't have needed Ade so badly.

'But Adrian phoned regularly and visited every weekend to check on us,' she says. His grieving mother put a brave face on the situation and told Michelle that she was happy for her. It must have been painful for her thinking of me with another man, but that didn't make it wrong. Only the other day, I was at the supermarket when I bumped into a woman who used to be a good friend. He helped me through the blackest period of my life.

'But how can you make rules with people's emotions? But, beneath his irreverent sense of humour, Michelle rapidly discovered a gentle, caring nature. 'I'd been divorced for a year and was still very wary of men, but Jon was so sweet-natured that I felt instantly comfortable.' Not surprisingly after a failed marriage, Michelle was happy to take things slowly.

But everything changed when, just a few months into their relationship Jon began complaining of headaches. He must have been petrified by the news, but he didn't break down. Naively, I assumed that the surgeon would remove the tumour and that would be an end of the problem.' Naive or not, Michelle decided to stay with Jon, come what may.

One of her girlfriends was so suspicious that she asked Michelle why her husband's best friend was spending so much time with her. 'Adrian was acting just like a dad would,' she says. 'One of my friends rang to say she didn't want to know me any more because my behaviour was so disgusting.

'Sam had missed out on so much with Jon being ill, and seeing him happy was wonderful.' The following weekend, Michelle went out with a group of her late husband's friends, including Adrian.

And you may also be plagued by feelings of guilt and uncertainty.

And then there’s the reactions of other people to deal with – not least your in laws and your own children, if you’re a parent.

The slightest emotional rejection could plunge you back into the depths of despair.While she says that finding solace with another man has helped her to deal with her devastation, some may feel uncomfortable about a widow embarking on a new love affair only a month after her husband's death.Jon's mother, Val, has been so hurt by her daughter-in-law's behaviour that she has cut off all contact. Yet she is not alone in seeking romance soon after losing her husband.Then, two weeks later, he had a seizure in bed - his eyes rolled into the back of his head, his whole body shook and he was foaming at the mouth. Jon was taken to Hull Royal Infirmary, where scans revealed he had a large brain tumour. I think he decided then that whatever fate threw at him, he would cope. 'I'm not a quitter and, although the relationship was still new, I already knew I was falling in love,' she says.'Having this shadow over us simply intensified everything.' After the tumour was removed in January 2004, the couple set up home together in Hull with Michelle's son, Callum, and tried to get back to normal. Tests after the operation showed that the tumour was a very aggressive cancer and would return.The question of whether you can put a timespan on grief is especially pertinent for Michelle Heidstra.Just four weeks after her husband died, Michelle fell in love with his best friend, Adrian Mc Collin, a pall bearer at the funeral. Their relationship is testament, says Michelle, to just how much she loved her husband, Jon.And at the end of the evening, she found herself in his house. When you've lost the person you loved, the idea of dating again can seem almost unthinkable.'I told him that I couldn't imagine being with anyone else,' she says.'And at the time I couldn't.' The couple married in July 2005, by which time Jon had been moved to Dove House hospice in Hull.


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