Yes – You Can Fall Inlove with Someone and Grieve Someone Else at the Same Time

There were numerous times after my husband passed away that I asked myself this very question. Can you grieve the loss of a loved one (a former spouse) and fall inlove with someone else at the same time? It seems the short answer to that question is a resounding yes. The heart is a big wonderful thing – its the organ of love. The organ of unconditional giving and the organ responsible for us finding our soulmate. So, what happens when the heart is broken from grief from the death of a loved one and there’s also a feeling of growing love, blossoming inside it? For many widows and widowers, this happens often, and when it does, it conjures up questions regarding the authenticity of these feelings. Can this be real? Can I really fall in love with someone else even though I’m grieving?

When I saw an article in the Washington Post about the spouses of two memoirists, Lucy Kalanithi and John Duberstein I was excited and thrilled for them both.  “When Breath Becomes Air,” Paul Kalanithi’s memoir of his final years as he faced lung cancer at age 37, was published posthumously, in 2016, to critical acclaim and commercial success. “The Bright Hour,” Nina Riggs’s memoir of her final years as she faced breast cancer at age 39, was published posthumously, in 2017, to critical acclaim and commercial success. The two books were mentioned together in numerous reviews, lists and conversations. The exciting part, which entails love after tragedy, is that the late authors’ spouses ended up together.


John Duberstein and Lucy Kalanithi in San Mateo, Calif. His late wife is the author of the memoir “The Bright Hour.” Her late husband is the author of the memoir “When Breath Becomes Air.” (Amy Osborne /for The Washington Post)

According to the Washington Post, in the final days of her life, Nina Riggs was worried about her husband and how he would get on with his life when she was gone. Nina made an offhand suggestion: Contact Lucy Kalanithi. She has experience with this, she told him; “she’ll know what to do”. The rest is history, the two developed a friendship that later blossomed into true love.

As I discussed in this article on Thrive Global on 4o Life Lessons I learn’t after my husband passed away, grief is the ultimate teacher about the important things in life. It teaches wisdom, and it teaches empathy.

If you find yourself in this position and have questions about a new relationship. Here are a few tips on your path to finding true love again.

  1. Take Your Time. There’s no need to rush. Sort through your feelings an give yourself time to decide what you ultimately want.
  2. Don’t Make Hasty Decisions. Take the necessary time to make any big future decisions that could impact your life, career and finances.
  3. Consider Everyone Involved. If there are children in the mix, be sensitive to their needs and desires and their grief as well.

Have you had questions about grief and finding love again? Tell us in the comments section below.