DEAR HARRIETTE: I was married to my college sweetheart for 28 years, and she passed away three years ago. I mourned my wife's passing for about a year's time. Recently, I met this beautiful woman, and I am interested in having a meaningful relationship with her. How much time is enough to mourn a loss of a spouse before you decide to start dating again? -- Finding Love, Chicago
DEAR FINDING LOVE: It used to be that people were told not to date until at least a year after a spouse passed away. Indeed, many years ago, widows would wear black for an entire year out of respect for their husbands' passing. Those rules have relaxed considerably in most parts of the country. You would be far beyond that rule, even if it still were in place.
What's more important for you is if you feel emotionally ready to start to date again. Have you done the spiritual work that you need in order to feel strong and clear about yourself and your goals for the future? When you feel whole, you are able to bring a strong potential partner to a new relationship.
If you feel that you want to explore a relationship with this woman, you should be completely honest with her. Talk about your life when you were married and what type of relationship you had with your wife. Talk about what you value in a partnership and what you hope to experience moving forward. Find out what her interests and desires are. By talking openly about who you are and what you want in life, you can learn from each other whether you could be a good fit. Take your time.