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MCG

Stigma of losing spouse to suicide when trying to date

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Posted (edited)

I’m new to this forum. I lost my husband to suicide by a self-inflicted GSW last Mother’s Day. He was an army veteran who served 2 tours in Iraq. I was completely blindsided by what he chose to do. And he did it while my children and I were in the house. I have two kids under 5. I’m 35. I’m still struggling with grief and trauma but have reached a stage where I contemplate dating and remarrying.  I want to find a good partner for myself and solid man to be step-father for my girls. 
 

However, I’m not sure this is even possible because of the stigma attached to suicide. Virtually every time I have revealed the cause of J’s death to a guy I’m interested in on a dating site I get ghosted. I fully understand that the prospect of dating someone who has “baggage” let alone the “baggage” of the suicide of their spouse is complicated and potentially heavy. But it seems unfair that for most people it’s a complete non-starter. 
 

I know I could choose not to reveal how my husband died for a while but eventually it’s going to have to be addressed. I have tended to be upfront about it fairly early on just because to hide it and later have to explain, seems to further incriminate me. I have struggled with immense guilt over J’s suicide. My children and I love him. We miss him every day. It seems that having to deal with all that is not enough. We get to be marginalized and robbed of a chance to rebuild because of people’s lack of understanding around suicide. 
 

Has anyone on here successfully navigated these issues? Have you dated or remarried? How did you handle it in the early phase of getting to know someone? 

Edited by MCG
Clarification

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Hi MCG - my wife died by her own hand after suffering for years of mental illness. I also had two sons at home (8 and 9) at the time of her death. I started dating after the shock wore off and I felt I was ready. 

I was mostly upfront to my dates but I didn't give much detail. Especially during the initial emails back and forth or on the first/second date. It's been a long time but I think I offered that I was widowed and my wife had been ill for a long, long time. Something like that. It was true but incomplete. I was, and am!, okay with that. That seemed to be enough information for most women when just starting out. 

 

I met a local woman and after a time, started dating her exclusively. We were then married a year or so later. I told her all the details after we decided to become a couple. For her at least, the circumstances surrounding my late wife's death were unimportant. 

 

Perhaps only offer small dribs and drabs of information at first. Have him fall in love with you and the kids by the contents of your heart alone without the 'baggage' (as you put it). If a guy is really interested in you as a long term partner, he'll accept the life experience you had before he met you. 

 

Dating isn't for sissies - but try not to be discouraged. Put yourself out there again and again if you need to. Mr. Right is out there - but it does take some looking. 

 

Good luck - Mike

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I'd agree with Mike that you can offer some information about your past without sharing everything on the first few dates/conversations.  When you meet the right person for you, they will have the response you need from them.  There will be a guy out there with the right mix of kindness and empathy for your loss and experience who wants to know you for the person you are, and looks forward to creating good memories with you in the future.

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I really appreciate the responses. You might be surprised how willing guys are to just come out and ask how J died, even early on in starting to talk. Which then puts me in the position of having to be or seem evasive. I try not to set people up for that but it has happened on multiple occasions where I think I’m walking the line (dribs and drabs as you say, Mike) and not offering too much or steering the conversation in that direction and then WHAM the guy will just directly ask how my husband died. I think that’s pretty bad form but it has happened so many times I started to think it was normal. And then after asking the question and getting the suicide answer, they run. But yes, I will keep at it. And if more people ask me directly I’ll have to use a vague response and hope they don’t find it weird. It’s pretty tricky because if I say something like “I find it too difficult to talk about yet” I come off as not ready to date. I guess I can say something more like “It’s a heavy topic. Let’s save it for a time when we know each other better.” 
Thanks for helping me think through this. 

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That is a tough one. Dating for the widowed is not for the faint of heart. It takes patience and persistence. I like your solution about saying that it’s a heavy topic and to save it for later. 

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