Although the late spouse is physically absent, the widow's love for him can remain — and even grow. In a recent study by Bar-Nadav and Rubin comparing the issues facing bereaved and non-bereaved women when they enter new relationships after a long-term one has ended, the bereaved experienced themselves as having changed more, but it was the non-bereaved who reported greater meaning in life and saw their life change as more positive.New widows (and widowers) face a range of circumstances in which their decisions are likely to be different. The growth experienced by the non-bereaved at this stage of life is likely to be less conflicted and more positive, and while the growth of the bereaved remains present and distinct, it lags behind that of their peers...The end of love is taken to indicate that it was superficial in the first place.
The French famously refer to orgasm as "la petite morte," or "the little death." Once orgasm is reached, it is in a sense the end of the loving experience preceding it and, hence, a little death.
Similarly, it was claimed that "All animals are sad after sex." The widow's new romantic situation Is the human heart large enough to encompass more than one romantic love?
There is ample evidence that this is possible, both in the diachronic sense of loving one person after another and in the synchronic sense of having two lovers at the same time. Their love to two people is more complex given the continuing impact of bereavement, even years after the loss.
The widow's ongoing relationship and bond to the deceased remains a central aspect in her life.
Thus, romantic breakups are often described as a kind of death.
In the words of Dusty Springfield, after such a breakup, "Love seems dead and so unreal, all that's left is loneliness, there's nothing left to feel." Personal relationships without love are also often associated with death.
The lover is perceived to be "the sunshine of my life," and for many, without such sunshine, decay and death are all around.
Even in one of the darkest periods of history, the Holocaust, people fell in love, despite the risks of expressing it.
In most cases of widowhood, if there was a positive attitude toward the spouse during his lifetime, this is enhanced. In a sense, the new lover brings the widow back to life.
This is due both to the tendency to idealize the past and to our sense of propriety in not speaking ill of the dead. As Annabel, a widow, said to her friend who ignited in her the desire to make love: "Thank you for bringing me back to life." The widow faces the challenge of entering into a new and meaningful spousal relationship without letting the former relationship be forgotten or denied.
Here I will discuss three such central circumstances: (a) adapting to a new love while still loving the late spouse; (b) tending to avoid a new marriage or relationship, as it doesn't seem worth the effort; and (b) falling in love with another man almost immediately. Bar-Nadav and Rubin argue that the experience of loss and its aftermath are reflected in the fact that widows feel greater hesitancy than their peers do about engaging in intimacy with new partners.