DEAR ABBY: My wife and I were happily married for 45 years. We both come from large, close families, and we were devoted to each other. We virtually never fought. She died suddenly four months ago. There was no warning. I was devastated, but my family and my faith buoyed me up through the darkest times.
I still have great sadness over her death, but I'm starting to do better. More than anything, I am lonely. After being so close to my wife for so many years, it's hard being suddenly single. I have met several single women who seem very nice, who share my religion and have shown some interest in me.
I really don't have a desire right now to start dating, but I have realized that I do not want to spend the rest of my life alone and unmarried. I don't want my children and my wife's family to think I'm too eager or glad to be free of their mother. I also don't want to cause problems in the family. How long after a spouse's death is it appropriate and advisable to wait before starting to date? -- WIDOWER IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR WIDOWER: It used to be expected that widows and widowers would wait one year, out of respect for their late spouses, to begin dating. However, those rules have loosened over time.
When you feel ready to date, you will know it. That said, make no important decisions or commitments for one year after the funeral -- and that includes remarrying to avoid being lonely. Like many widowers in your age bracket, you may find that you are now a "hot commodity."