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Ask Lisi: First dates tricky for young widow with tragic past

On dates my widowhood comes up early on. I always get teary when discussing the topic; it’s a wound that will never truly heal. But it’s not a great first-date opener.
Lisi Tesher, for Ask Ellie column

Dear Lisi: I’m a young widow; my husband died in a car accident while skiing in the mountains. It was — and still is — an unbelievable tragedy, and it took me a long time be able to lead a somewhat normal everyday life. We had two children who were young when he died, but old enough to understand he was gone. It was hard on all of us.

And then COVID hit, and we were alone and isolated and miserable. We have come out the other end, older, jaded, but still a family.

I’ve recently started dating. It’s strange and obviously my widowhood comes up early on. I always get teary when discussing the topic; it’s a wound that will never truly heal. But it’s not a great first-date opener.

How can I get to know someone without turning on the waterworks in the first 30 minutes (at most!)?

Sad Widow

I’m so sorry for your loss, and the trauma caused to your family by your husband’s untimely and tragic accident. You should be proud that you and your children have managed so well, especially with COVID as a period of seclusion.

I think you need to live your reality authentically. Your life experiences make you who you are, for good and for bad. Agreed, tears in the first half-hour of a first date ruin the vibe and the makeup, but it’s your story. I’m not suggesting you turn on the waterworks, I’m just saying, own it.

The right person will respond appropriately, with sympathy and maybe even empathy. Live your truth and with the passage of time, your pain will become less and less acute.

Dear Lisi: I know that your mother has dealt with this topic, but I can’t recall her advice. Someone contacted me on Ancestry a few years ago, wanting to know if we were related since our DNAs were a close match. I had noticed the match before but thought it was another relative with a similar name. I then figured out that this person is the child of my brother who has never had any children that we knew of.

My husband convinced me that I shouldn’t get involved and that this was a secret I should “take to my grave.” This has weighed on me for quite a while and I felt the need to unburden myself to my sisters, which has brought me some relief, but has unsettled them.

So, we are now wondering: Does this person have a right to know who their father is? Does my brother have the right to know he has a child, if he doesn’t already know? Is it ultimately the right of the mother who raised this child to decide if the child should know? Is there a chance that the mother may not know who the father is?

Any advice would be most appreciated.

An Innocent Big Sister

Ellie has tackled this subject before, but I believe every situation should be dealt with independently. You asked a lot of questions, so I’ll try to answer them all.

In my opinion, everyone has a right to know who their parents are/were. Is it always in their best interests? Maybe not, but that’s not for me to decide. I also think men have a right to know if they have sired a child (I’m not referring to sperm donors, or anything untoward). How they then deal with that information is a separate issue.

In this case, the age of the child matters. If the child is now an adult, then it’s not up to the mother anymore. If it were me, I would talk to my brother with my sisters’ support.

FEEDBACK Regarding the friend with bad teeth (May 6):

Reader – “When the writer mentioned the friend’s parents’ teeth were bad, I immediately thought they may have dentophobia, a fear of going to the dentist.

“About one third of the population suffers this fear, with a smaller number being very afraid. Dental care has come a long way in the last thirty years. I hope she can convince her friend to get dental care; it’s important for general health.”

Lisi Tesher is an advice columnist based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions to [email protected]