Sunday, 20 March 2016
A Respectable Period Of Mourning
It’s been a strange couple of weeks in my world. A funeral, an over 40s MOT style health check, the arrival of my divorce, both kids home sick for a whole week, a school parents’ evening followed by drinks with my ex-husband, another funeral and almost a comedy night but I had to cancel due to the aforementioned sick children. I really could have done with the laugh.
And that’s just the edited highlights. Don’t forget to factor in the usual work, washing, ironing, cooking, shopping etc. Firstly, I’m mentally and physically exhausted. Secondly, I appear to have developed a slightly wonky sense of what’s appropriate in any given setting.
I already fessed up to the potentially inappropriate attire at the first funeral regarding my sexy boots and red nails (see A Time For Macaroni Cheese). Regardless of theses reservations, I wore the same outfit to the second funeral. This time, however, there were no red nails but that was more to do with not having time to paint them rather than any moral decision on my part.
However, it seems my inappropriateness knows no bounds. At funeral number two, I actually flirted with the celebrant! What was I thinking? And he used to be a vicar! After coming to my senses, and also realizing he was in fact married, I clearly backed off. I needed to regroup.
But even my unconscious mind appears to be ethically challenged. A few nights later I had what can only be described as an erotic dream involving one of the teachers at my kids’ school! Obviously, I had absolutely no control over this little fantasy, although I must say it wasn’t altogether unpleasant!
There are obvious moral questions to be raised here. Firstly, is it acceptable to flirt with an official, or anyone else for that matter, at a funeral? And secondly, are teachers off limits, subconsciously or otherwise?
In answer to the former query, I guess a funeral is as good a place as any to get flirting. As long as you’re not flashing those “come to bed” eyes during the service or winking at the bereaved spouse, I think the event itself is fair game. And let’s be honest, when you hit forty you spend more time at funerals than you do weddings, the classic place to meet a future spouse apparently, so you’ve got to include them in your list of possible venues.
Addressing the teacher issue, I would suggest they are indeed off limits. Well, perhaps until your last child’s final term at that school so any damage is mitigated. But that’s just my personal opinion. At the moment. I’m always happy to admit I’m wrong and adjust my stance accordingly…
In either case it’s irrelevant. My flirting skills are such (see Don’t Look Down) that the unsuspecting celebrant still has no idea that I was trying to flirt with him anyway. And, as the incident with the teacher took place in a dream I would suggest there’s even less chance of him being aware of the goings on. Phew!
But all this does raise further questions. When is it time to date again? How long after the end of a relationship or death of a partner is it ok to see other men? What is a respectable period of mourning these days?
Well, here’s the answer. I have absolutely no flipping idea! And neither does anyone else. However, bearing in mind many people are dating whilst still in their current relationship and many others never date again, I can state with confidence that the answer lies somewhere between the two.
The overriding thing to remember is that you’re ready to date when you’re ready to date. It’s nothing to do with how many days, weeks or months have gone past. And it’s nothing to do with anyone else so don’t feel judged.
“Everyone will think I’m dating too soon and that I never loved him…”
When your partner’s gone they’re gone. Is waiting around for the six-month marker really going to make a difference? Will it bring them back to you, if indeed you want them back? Does it mean you loved them any less? No, it doesn’t. And what do those people know anyway? Acceptance of loss often begins earlier than those on the outside realize, with a failing relationship or a diagnosis of an illness. Your grieving may have begun long before the end came, and some time before you shared the information with those beyond your relationship. They’re in no place to judge.
“My friends think I’m hanging on for him to come back and that I should have started dating ages ago…”
So they think you’re waiting too long. No one knows how it feels to be inside your head, processing your emotions. They don’t know if you’ve had enough time to get over your loss and adjust to life without your partner. A long time ago, after the end of a serious relationship that I thought I’d come to terms with, I had a fling. Turns out I wasn’t over the first relationship after all and was frequently found crying in my new man’s bathroom in the middle of the night. Not good. Especially as he had two housemates and no lock on the bathroom door but that’s another story! Anyway, what seems like too long for one person can be too soon for another.
Think about giving yourself time to grieve and finding out who you are as a person before moving back into dating. Or don’t. Get out socializing, go on a date and have some fun! It really is up to you and how you deal with things.
It’s not easy making that first move. It’s hard to imagine being in a relationship with someone else; confiding in another man; sitting on the sofa with them; being intimate with anyone other than your husband; letting them meet your kids; referring to a story from your life that they have no knowledge of. It all seems so difficult and not necessarily worth the effort.
But remember, a date doesn’t mean a relationship. It’s just a date. It’s an evening out with drinks, dinner and conversation. That’s all.
When you first went out with your previous partner, did you think that you’d end up married? Probably not. I know I didn’t.
Don’t overanalyze things. Relationships don’t have to last forever, as we’ve found out to our cost. You can flirt or go on a date and if it doesn’t feel right, you just go home afterwards and give yourself a bit more time. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll have a nice evening.