Don’t Ask for their Permission to Live Again.

Scrutiny is not something we expect after loss.

All of a sudden people think they have a say about the way you should live your life.

They have some kind of ownership.

And if you are not careful, all of a sudden your life becomes theirs.

You feel like you have to ask for permission every time you go out on a date.

You regress to the teenage years when your parents had to tell you what time you had to be home. You don’t only have to deal with your own fears and guilt but with your family’s needs about the direction your life should take.

When should you date again?

Are you selling your house?

How should you dress now? 

Go on vacation?

Change jobs?

And the list goes on.

What is going on here?

Did grief take our independence away?

I have received so many emails from people who tell me that their kids do not approve of the new partner in their life.

And that they feel betrayed in some way that they might be getting married again.

The one thing that has startled me the most is that I see fear in those emails.

Trembling and paralyzing fear.

Fear of disappointing everyone.

And in the end it is their life they don’t get to live because of that fear.

So we lock the doors to anyone new.

We lock our hearts so our kids don’t get mad at us.

And when we dare to get out and go and do what our heart tells us to do, we get punished with the silent treatment, with disapproving looks. With anger.

Your heart is confused since love is showing up in such a negative way.

The people who love you are now hurting you.

What is going on?

Why is loss so very complicated?

This letter is going to simplify this process.

Here it goes:

When you have a second chance in life you grab it and run with it. (Click to Tweet!)

Period. No doubts about this whatsoever.

Grief does not have a real timeline.

People will tell you to wait for the right time to date.

They will tell you to not rush things.

But here is the thing I want you to know.

Grief is an inhuman experience taking place in a human body, it lives outside of time and space. It does not have a clock. And there will never be a wrong time for life to come back. It is always the right time.

If someone makes you laugh.

You spend time with them.

If someone makes your heart beat a little faster, you let them.

If you want to sell your house because it is really hard to live there, then you sell it.

If you want to go on vacation and spoil yourself, do that.

If you want to change careers because you are no longer that person, change your career.

You do what makes you happy every time. Haven’t you been punished enough? Why punish yourself more? Is it so important to obey the ‘invisible rules’of loss?

Your life after loss is nobody else’s business.

And for those who have kids with opinions about you dating again.

I want you to listen carefully.

Your kids absolutely have no say in who you kiss, who you sleep with and who you talk to. I understand this is harsh. I get it.

But they could never possibly walk in your shoes.

Don’t let them borrow them.

Your shoes do not fit them and they cannot walk in them.

Sit them down and tell them that you will always love them, but this part of your life is for you to take care of. It is truly none of their business.

Don’t over discuss this.

Hold them. Love them. But don’t ask their permission to love again.

One day, when they get to be your age and have the same shoes you have on, they will get you. And more than that respect your courage.

Now go and do what makes you happy.

Remember…. the time is always right for life to come in.

And anyone who is trying to stop your life coming back, should not be in it.

With love,


PS. Grab the book and go open those doors.


  1. I think as a widow it is not only my children, but my family, friends, late husband’s family, everyone seems to think they have a say in what I do with myself & my kids. It really starts to make a girl second guess her decisions. Especially big ones like marrying the second time around and moving. It’s frustrating and sad.

  2. There does seem to be much scrutiny involved when we are grieving the loss of anything. I experienced this as well. I know others think they are helping you, but fail to realize that you are doing amazing things just by getting through “one more day.” And when it comes to Love……there always seems to be scrutiny here , and more so after loss. Yes, if something makes your heart beat again, tune out the scrutiny!! Thank you for this wonderful message, Christina. You have once again helped to simplify and make sense of the very complicated thoughts and emotions we experience after loss.

  3. Totally great statement. I have felt all of those things. I have a great guy who is a widower and can support me and know exactly how I feel. I have no children and he 2 teenagers like and respect me. They are great kids. Life isn’t fair, I am a widow at 43 and am blessed that our paths have crossed over the last 6 months. Don’t give up on finding another relationship and do what makes you happy life is too short. I never pictured myself without my husband, but remember life does go on! ❤️

  4. what excellent advice. As I read this, I was thinking, this is not me, I do what I want, but as i read further, I realized, I AM afraid of what my kids are going to say…

    thankyou for the empowerment.

  5. Hi Christina,
    Thank you! You’ve hit the nail right on the head. After leaving my husband and living as a single mother for 17 yrs. ( yes I dated, but those dating years brought more grief into my life) I chose to continue to raise my kids and stay focuse on life.
    When all of a sudden, I met a wonderful man, totally unexpected, but a very redressing gentleman. BTW.. This meeting was 6 months after my last relationship. ( one that almost sent me over the edge.
    This gentleman, that I had just met, we started out by the traditional coffee, walk, drive…. Getting to know eachother and taking things slow.
    He shared with me he had just lost his wife to cancer and continued to tell me, her death was just ( at the time) 3 months before we met. My first reaction was ” woah, easy does it.” This poor soul has just lost the love of his life after 30 yrs of marriage.
    We continued to date and the more we both saw eachother the closer we became.
    A few more months went by as we started to talk about marriage. I knew my kids were going to have things to say…. ( more out of protection) but my biggest fear was his 2 adult sons. Boy oh boy was I right!
    The eldest was taking the engagements pretty hard, but I kept telling my fiancé at the time, things will work out. My fiancé was saying ” this is our life and no one has the right to tell us what to do!” I replied of course not, considering we are in our 50’s!
    Well, our 2nd wedding anniversary is going to be celebrated next month!
    All I have to say to others considering marriage again after a loss is:
    If you both know in your heart of hearts, this is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with—– GO FOR IT!!!
    I understand our kids will possibly have issues with our choices we make, but that’s where communication on all sides needs to be PARAMOUNT!
    I’m a true believer our kids have opinions too, as we all do, BUT they don’t make our decisions for us!
    Regarding our situations all of our 5 kids our very happy for us and that’s all we ask!
    Love is out there a 2nd even 3rd …. Around…. When you’re both ready!
    Blessings to all <3

  6. I have been widowed for 10 yrs. after having been married for 30, and I have never experienced any of those things. My children and my friends want me to be happy. It took me 2-3 years to get through the grief and my family and friends were always there to support me. When I started dating again, they countered my trepidation with humor and encouragement. I have been in a comfortable relationship with a wonderful man for the last 3 years. My friends like him and my kids and grandkids think he is great. I think this is because I always taught my kids to think for themselves and to mind their own business. I have no doubt however, that if they thought this relationship was detrimental that they would tell me. Honesty and respect are key in any relationship, whether with friends, family or the person you are intimately connected with.

  7. I never see much on here about “older” women meeting younger men. Any thoughts about what to do when there is a big age difference……say 20 years?

  8. Sound advice. But how do you stop BEING the person who is demanding that you ask permission? My husband of 37 years died 19 months ago. 11 months ago I began dating. I still missed my beloved, but he was gone, dead, never coming back. Ever. I was lonely. I fell in love. And life became wonderful! I was happy! Really and truly happy! In love like a school girl! With a scammer. And 6 months ago, for the second time in 12 1/2 months, I lost the love of my life. And now I am terrified. I still love that man. I feel a fool, but I do. I WANT to get over it. Everyone tells me I should. I WANT to!!! How do I allow myself to move forward? Allow myself to risk falling in love? I have no lack of male attention. But I shut them out very quickly. Refuse to allow myself to fall. HOW??? How do I move on??? How do I stop mourning??? Twice………

  9. I so needed this lesson after spending Saturday with my Son, his wife (both age 35 years) and my new man (Chris). My husband Bill died 2/14/2014. I have been bending over backwards trying to get my son and daughter in law to loosen up around Chris. He pays for them when we are out to gain their acceptance, is funny, sweet and wonderful to me. He and I get treated like they are there because it is expected but talk very little and are very cold. My daughter in law lys me know her family would not approve of me moving on. My son is just silent and only answers questions he cannot get out of. When I ask, in private why it is always “we miss Bill” We’ll, Bill is dead and missing him will not bring him back…. Oh I have to step back cause they are killing me worse than his dying did. Thanks for listening.

    • I’m sorry for your loss…so recent and raw. My middle son is the same way. He tells me he has no desire to get to know my fella. My oldest son hasn’t spoken to me since October of 2011 and hates my guts. They both live thousands of miles away on the west coast and my youngest still lives here in our town. He gets along with “Mr. X” fine and they are becoming friends, but I still sense a little hesitation in his getting too close. Nobody has to approve and I’ve made that perfectly clear to everyone. Stop bending and just live. I have found that the less reaction I give, the better I feel. It’s ok!

  10. I am not ready to date yet so that’s not the problem. Little things, like selling my huge bedroom suite, selling one of my horses, how I spend my money, our two oldest think I should ask their approval. In fact my daughter just called and asked if I was sure about selling my huge king size bedroom suite. Yes. Had just read this message. Kindly told her I was Ok with it, needed the change and didn’t need her approval. Go me.

  11. It has been almost 5 years since I lost my husband. In reference to the idea of scrutiny, I truly believe it is so true. In my case, thankfully I have not allowed too many others to influence my actions concerning moving on. I did date one time for about 6 months, but the problem was me scrutinizing myself and doing the unthinkable “COMPARING”. Now that I look back, I realized that I was stuck in the Loop of Loss, like you described in your wonderful book, Second Firsts. So now, that I am trying so hard to move on, my problem is still, ‘dating’. I’m not sure why I still cannot even find one man I am even slightly attracted to. My question for myself, that I need to soul search through my grieving, Is? Am I scrutinizing my own self, through guilt for happiness, or has the right man not just come along?? One more question, that I have asked myself sometimes in reference to dating is?? Are my standards too high. But this attitude is what had brought me to find my husband, in the first place. I valued a man that was great, loving, kindhearted, humorous, and that had so many other great qualities. I wonder if I will ever be blessed enough to find another love, that has even half of those qualities. This is the scrutiny that I put myself through on a daily basis. As I am writing this, I am finding some of my own answers. One of the answers I just realized is that possibly I am not letting love in to take any chances to find this out. Thank you, Christina for helping others look at grief and life through your experiences and different inspiring perspectives.

    • I don’t think we can ever get away with never making some kind of comparison when we meet someone new. I really try not to, but sometimes it pops into my head unexpectedly and I feel bad after. I think we get so used to that one person that differences are hard to adapt to. I believe a new normal will eventually become the “now normal” at some point, we just have to give it time.

  12. I am now 3 1/2 years a widow (4 yrs on July 11, 2015). Everything written in this post is so accurate. Some of the people that you expect to support you the most after this kind of loss, don’t! How can moving forward before people think you should make such a huge difference? I will admit, I moved on with someone else much sooner than I ever imagined I would in this situation, but I felt like I was dying inside. For months on end I did nothing, I went nowhere, I had no desire to live at all. On top of an impending empty nest, I was suddenly left alone, with no one to turn to. How can my own child hate me so much? How can he call me such horrible names and wish such terrible things upon me? How can he accuse me of things that I did not do and never even give me the chance to defend myself? These are the questions I have been battling with for three and a half years and I have recently had a major setback with emotions, dreams, guilt, sadness, anger, etc. I am hoping to purchase and read your book soon. I received SOME grief counseling in the beginning and recently went back for more, but I can no longer afford to keep going. I look forward to reading and sharing here.

    • I follow you on facebook, but am so glad I ran across this blog post. January was 12 years that my husband died in a one vehicle accident (we had just been married 3 1/2 months). Thankfully, we were together many years before being married. I have been in this crazy world of dating for many years now & have even loved again. I know I am capable of opening my heart up, however, I just haven’t found that chapter 2. I do want to remarry again & thought I would eventually have that family I always dreamed of one day. I will be 40 in less than 2 weeks. Since I was 35, I have had some tell me I am too old for kids. Today, someone in another office asked how long it had been since my husband passed. When I told her, she asked me, why haven’t you moved on? I asked her to define “moved on?” 12 years later, this certainly isn’t where I thought I would see myself. I have changed and grown so much since then. I am not that same person as I was. I do know that I am not settling just to have someone in my life as a companion & why people don’t understand this is beyond me. I am putting myself out there. Why I can’t find anyone…I don’t know. Right in the beginning of the entire dating thing, I did compare the men to my late husband, but I don’t do that anymore, because I know there will never be another one of him. The man & love I find, will be different. It just struck me wrong today…not what I needed, not what I needed right before turning 40. I was really OK with that # thing, until today.

  13. My loss is due to a divorce after a 41 year marriage. My ex decided that he would rather have a girlfriend than a wife. He and I started dating when I 15. I had no idea that he was unhappy. His girlfriend was a friend of mine. The fact the she has been married 5 times should have given a clue. My deepest frustion is that my two daughters, ages 31 and 36, have chosen to allow her to visit in their homes. I know that they don’t want to loose their Dad to her. The girls are refuse to talk with me about their decision. If I think about this with my head rather than my heart, I can see their maturity. Trust me, I understand grief. My son died in 2007 at the age of 26. This grief is worse than losing my precious son. Rob did not choose to walk away…Bob did.

  14. … and now i am all teary eyed!
    oh thank you SO much Christina for writing this out loud! thank you for speaking up so we can learn, I am 2 (and a bit) years in, and doing actually really well, back on my feet and enjoying the new way of life that “me +3+ is, managing to balance the new way of caring for the 4 of us, and still smiling-with-tears at all the great memories of the 16 years spend hand in hand, doing life together.
    Thank you for letting us read your thoughts, keep writing, you really help us (I have a close group of other young widows and we love reflecting and sharing your stories/posts)
    Have a great day Christina
    🙂 Fiona G

  15. I commend you for sharing this..although my situation is opposite too many people telling me I should be going back to work or should be herringbone out more that I have to live life that I’m only 50…it’s been not even 9 months since my husband died and I can barely do everyday tasks…I keep telling family friends and those who think they have the right to give me advice, unless they have first hand experience into what I’m going through they need to back off (at least I say that in my head, not out loud). I am doing the best I can and taking the time to do me and figure out who I am

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Christina Rasmussen

Welcome to the Message in a Bottle page, here you will find wisdom, truth and tools for you to start over. Make sure you sign up at the top to be sure to receive it in your inbox every Friday.