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'After my husband died, I fell in love with his best friend. My former in laws refuse to speak to me.'

As told to Ann DeGrey

Losing my partner Andy* was like losing the best part of me. We’d been married for almost 11 years and even though our life together was quite ordinary, it was filled with love and dreams of growing old together. We treasured the simple things in life; our evenings on the sofa watching reality TV, and our Sunday morning walks. Everything felt good, or at least as good as life can get.

Then, one Saturday night, it all changed. Andy was on his way home from work when a texting driver collided with his car. Receiving the news from two police officers was the most horrifying moment of my life. I literally collapsed on the kitchen floor, too shocked to even cry.

I felt so lost without him, I couldn’t even bear to see his clothes hanging in the wardrobe. Throughout this time, his best mate Dan* was my constant support. He’d been friends with Andy since their days at uni and along with his wife, we’d all spent countless weekends together.

Dan knew Andy almost as well as I did. He understood exactly what I’d lost because he was feeling it too. And, eventually, our shared grief brought us very close. Dan listened when I needed to talk, held me when I needed to cry, and was just present during the times when all I could handle was silence. 

Watch: The things about grief that no one tells you. Post continues after video.

Video via YouTube/Psych2Go.

As time went on, we both realised we were falling in love. The first time Dan kissed me, it was a shock to my system, as I felt riddled with guilt but, at the same time, it was like the answer to my prayers – being in love again after such an awful loss. Six months later, we realised we never wanted to be apart. Dan had a tough decision to make. 

He decided to end his marriage. Even though he and his wife had been drifting apart for a long time, the decision to leave was painful for him – and I also knew I’d be dealing with the repercussions because I’d been a friend to his wife as well. 

But it also felt like a breath of fresh air, a sign that maybe life could go on. It felt to me as though happiness wasn't something I had lost forever on the day that Andy died.

Firstly, I had to deal with Dan’s wife who called me some awful names and accused me of being a "home wrecker". She was devastated and her anguish just added to my guilt. But Dan and I couldn’t ignore our deep connection and, when we eventually got married, it felt like the most wonderful day of my life. 

During this time, I’d stayed in touch with my former sister-in-law and parents-in-law – I’d always had a good relationship with them all.

Andy’s parents treated me like a daughter from the very start, welcoming me into their home with open arms. His mother, with her gentle wisdom, became a second mother to me and also helped guide me through the grief of losing Andy. 

Which is why I wanted to do the right thing and let them know that I’d moved on to a relationship with Dan. But they all seemed shocked – none of them seemed happy for us at all.

Days later, I received a phone call from my former sister-in-law where she simply said, "How could you?" I never heard from any of them again. This new chapter of my life was tainted by their dreadful silence. They completely withdrew from me as soon as I told them that Dan and I were together. Phone calls and texts went unanswered, invitations declined, and soon, there was nothing but a sad silence. This was very upsetting for Dan too, as he’d known Andy’s family for such a long time.

It was hurtful because, not only had I lost my husband, and now I was losing his family. I understood their hurt and their feelings of betrayal. But I also wished they could see that my heartache was real too and that finding love again wasn't a betrayal of Andy but a way to move on with the love we shared. If there’s one thing that Andy taught me it’s that love should never be taken for granted.

I tried reaching out many times to Andy’s sister, Sarah*, who’d always been more like a best friend than a sister-in-law. We confided in each other about everything from career worries to personal dreams. But her silence made it clear she wanted nothing to do with me and she blocked me on social media as well as email and phone. 

The loss of these relationships was a secondary grief that followed Andy’s death. His family’s absence meant that I couldn’t share memories of my late husband with anyone other than Dan.

But, despite this sad estrangement, I don’t regret the path I've taken. Dan and I have built a life on the foundation of a love that neither of us expected. I feel so lucky. And we both honour Andy’s memory, not only by grieving for him but also by feeling the joy he would have wanted for us.

*Names have been changed due to privacy.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

Feature image: Canva.

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