Grief is an essential life skill -- knowing how to survive grief means feeling safe to take another risk, and grieving actually expands one's capacity to love.Expression of grief, and respect for the dead, is very important to the grieving process. A symbol of grief for the loss of one person reminds us all of our grief for anyone we lost, and can be overwhelming.

Whether the marriage was a good one, or a problem, you will grieve at the loss of a spouse. In a divorce, you're grieving for what might have been, what was, and the loss of your hopes and dreams. After the death of a spouse, you're grieving for the loss of that most important person in your life: -- it feels like a giant hole in your heart, and in the middle of everything. Either way, you'll probably go through the stages of grief: denial (when you forget he or she is gone) anger (about being abandoned, about all the things that went wrong, sometimes anger at yourself, and at God) experimenting/replacement (trying new things, looking for new friends, a new outfit, hairdo or car) depression (very down days, when you can't get out of bed or life seems hopeless) and acceptance (the bandages are off, you feel complete with it, and ready to really build your new life.)

Take it slowly. You will heal. Spend time around people you trust. Plan ahead for holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, so you're not alone and miserable. Don't worry about feeling timid, weak, shy, exhausted, angry: these are all normal parts of grieving and healing. Take extra good care of yourself: sleep, nutrition, exercise all will make you feel better. If you feel like trying something new, it's OK, but don't make any drastic decisions in the first throes of loss. You're not thinking very clearly: so, take a trip, but don't move across country. Stay over with a friend when you're feeling lonely, but don't jump into a new relationship. Also, be cautious
about financial decisions and your financial future. Don't make any decisions when you feel despair, panic or rage. Wait a little while, until you settle down. If you have to make decisions during this time, rely on good advice from people you trust.

If your loss was because of divorce, your feelings will be mixed.  If there was a good reason to be divorced, of course you'll feel relieved. You'll also sometimes feel sad. Feelings are mixed. If you lost a partner through a long, drawn-out illness, especially if it was painful and difficult, you'll also feel relieved. Actually, in both these situations, the grieving begins before the relationship is over, so you start the process early.

If you were unhappy within the marriage, and didn't do what you could to fix it (divorce fixed it) you may not know how to make yourself happy, and that might be a difficult learning process. If you were blaming your unhappiness on the other person, then you don't get faced with your own responsibility until that person is gone, and that can be a shock. Getting out of marriage won't automatically make anything better. Your happiness is your own responsibility.

You my be wondering when you should start to date again, and how you'll know if you're ready.  Definitely not too fast, for reasons stated above. You're not thinking clearly. By all means, go out with friends, take classes, try new things, begin to build a new life; but don't find another relationship while on the rebound and grieving. It usually creates disaster.

For a while after a loss, you may not feel like considering a new relationship, which is probably good. Jumping right from one relationship to another usually doesn't work. A relationship that follows too quickly is called a 'rebound' relationship because it's often a bad choice. Because you haven't had enough time to process your feelings, or to learn from your mistakes, your judgment will be off. Once you have had some time to recover, however, the following tips will help you to find a successful new love.
 
Dr. Romance's 3 Tips for Finding New Love

1. Get a life: Even before you're ready to risk a new relationship, you can begin to get out and do things that interest you. Make your life as fun and social as you can without a relationship. Create a social network by joining groups who are doing things that interest you. If your life is full of activities you really enjoy, you'll be more successful at finding a successful relationship.

2. Look for friends: Looking for love is a big waste of time --single's activities, online dating sites and singles bars are all riddled with problems, and take you in the wrong direction. Now that you've developed a life full of social connections, seek to make friends. You'll get to know all kinds of people, and out of these people someone will soon stand out, and you'll have the advantage of already knowing each other before you decide you want to date.

3. Pay attention: Meeting your new love by making friends who share the same interests gives you a great opportunity to observe the character of the person before you declare your interest.

For more about grief, check out my new course: Grief: What it is, Why we have it, and How to get through it  

from Dr. Romance's Guide to Finding Love Today

Dr_Romances_Guide_to_Finding_Love_Today CoverGrief

For low-cost phone counseling, email me at tina@tinatessina.com

Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.