DEAR ABBY: I have been widowed just one month shy of a year. Over the last three months, I have been seeing a lovely woman who was widowed for the second time. (It has been seven months since she lost her second husband.)
I have two granddaughters -- both 13 years of age -- and my daughters tell me they're asking why I'm seeing another woman and "it hasn't even been a year since Grandma died." Abby, is the year written in stone? Is there anything I can say to my granddaughters? They don't seem to understand that Muffin (my dog) isn't enough of a companion for me. -- TROUBLED IN NORTH HATFIELD, MASS.
DEAR TROUBLED: Nothing is written in stone except a person's epitaph. While it is advisable that recently widowed people wait a year before jumping into a serious relationship -- in other words, "rebound" -- it is not unusual for a widow or widower to begin having some sort of social life before the year has elapsed.
Ask your granddaughters if they would like to see you happy, or if they prefer to see you lonely. And if your wife died of an illness, remind them that people don't start grieving only when their mate dies. There is often a grieving period that begins when a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness.
At 13, people see things in black and white. Unfortunately, life is often painted in shades of gray.