My brother passed away just over two years ago at just 32 years of age. His wife has remained connected to our family throughout the terrible period since, but lately she has begun to spend less and less time with us. Then, last week, she told me that she's begun dating and has met someone she cares about. Now, we've all said since my brother died that she is a young woman and deserves to find happiness again. But now that it's happening, I find myself feeling sad and even angry that my brother's wife is seeing another man. How can I deal with these feelings
while still telling her I want her in my life?
--One Sad Bro
I am so sorry for your brother's loss.
It's understandable that you want to be close to your sister-in-law, since she is the most tangible part of your brother that you have left. A wife is, after all, "bone of one bone and flesh of one flesh" with her husband. But that principle cannot change the simple fact that this poor woman has been widowed at such a young age.
The Bible says "It is not good for man to be alone," so just imagine for a moment the state of her loneliness (your letter suggests that you do empathize with her in this regard). It's a wonderful thing that she's dating, and you must strive to be happy for her. You can do this, even if it feels at the moment like an impossibility.
But I am a great believer in communication, so I think you have to share with her how hard this process is for you, even though you understand that your feelings are unreasonable. As you share your feelings, also tell her that no matter whom she dates and whom she marries, the family still wants to be close to her. Explain to her-and remind yourself-that there is no contradiction whatsoever between her being close to another man and his family and remaining close to your family.
I have a close friend whose wife died at a young age. He remarried two years later. But he remains incredibly close to his late wife's parents. His new wife was at first uncomfortable with the relationship, but when she saw that it did not interfere with their marriage at all, she herself began to become close to his former in-laws, and everyone was
This is a difficult time for all of you. But with a lot of communication and with sharing your feelings openly and diplomatically, you will get through it. In time, your sister-in-law will feel comfortable introducing you to the new man in her life, you'll create a friendship with him, and you will all draw closer.
Here is a final suggestion: Create with your sister-in-law a project that memorializes your brother's memory. Make it something that was dear to your brother's heart-raise money for a charity, create an art project to display in a public place that he loved, or come up with another special way to honor his memory. When you agree on something together, you will have an enduring, living project on which to work with her and will forever connect you to her. That's what my friend did.
To this day, he still runs the project he started in his late wife's memory. His current wife is moved by her husband's commitment to his late wife's memory because it means that he is a gentleman who takes marriage and love very seriously.
May you find comfort and meaning in honoring your brother's memory even as you support his widow in her future life.
G-d bless you,