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Romantic love is a central expression of a good, meaningful, and flourishing life.
Without love and desire, many people feel that a large part of them is dead.
In most cases of widowhood, if there was a positive attitude toward the spouse during his lifetime, this is enhanced. In a sense, the new lover brings the widow back to life.
This is due both to the tendency to idealize the past and to our sense of propriety in not speaking ill of the dead. As Annabel, a widow, said to her friend who ignited in her the desire to make love: "Thank you for bringing me back to life." The widow faces the challenge of entering into a new and meaningful spousal relationship without letting the former relationship be forgotten or denied.
There is ample evidence that this is possible, both in the diachronic sense of loving one person after another and in the synchronic sense of having two lovers at the same time. Their love to two people is more complex given the continuing impact of bereavement, even years after the loss.
Contrary to this view, love can perish for various reasons that arise from changes in intrinsic or extrinsic circumstances; such changes do not necessarily indicate that the initial love was superficial.
There's an odd 'divide.' I love both of them, one here and one gone." It seems that we are blessed with a heart that is very flexible and can accommodate various people at the same time. I knew things would be different, because he was not Jim. And so as we became more serious and had deeper feelings for one another, I started to worry. I wasn't feeling that I was falling more in love each day. And [then after talking to another widow] I began to realize that the way I was loving this second time was ‘normal.' And that I had to let go of my expectations. Which position is worse: the widow who knows that her lover cannot come back, or the woman who knows that her ex could come back, but might not wish to do so?
Consider the following sincere description (which appears on the site Widow's Voice) by Janine, a widow, about her feelings toward her new lover. I wasn't feeling that my heart would burst from how much love I had for him. How could this love feel the same as my first love? The pain and sadness is greater on the widow's side, not merely because of the terminal nature of the loss, but also because of the greater romantic intensity.
We speak about "dead marriages" (there is even an internet site entitled "Married but not dead"), "cold husbands," and "frigid wives." Since love is perceived to be the essence of life, the end of love can cause some people to wish to end life as well: to sacrifice their life, or to kill others for love.
The book explores how men kill their wives and commit suicide when their wives intend to leave them.
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The lover is perceived to be "the sunshine of my life," and for many, without such sunshine, decay and death are all around.