July 18

“Dear Apocalypse”

[The Advice Column for these Troubled Times]


Dear Apocalypse,

My wife went missing during the Great Hailstorms of April 14th.  I’m fairly certain she was killed, but due to the subsequent floods her body was never recovered.

I really wish I could have been home to protect her.  Instead, I was on a work-related bonding retreat that, as it turned out, saved my life.  For weeks after the storms, in addition to missing my wife, I felt terribly guilty.  Of course, I was also occupied with the rebuilding effort — joining a survival crew, gathering food and other supplies, finding a new home.

I began to develop feelings for a young woman (let’s call her Karen) who was also in my survival group.  Events brought us close together:  we ended up sharing food, and a small cement-walled room in the recovery center.  There was only one bed in the room, and we’ve been sleeping in separate shifts — out of respect for my probably-dead wife.

My question is:  now that the condition of our world has shifted, have the rules for grieving spouses also been adjusted?  In previous years, it was customary to wait until a spouse had been declared legally dead before remarrying.  I’m not even sure we still have a legal system in our town, so can that step be omitted?

In addition, I realize that surviving spouses were traditionally expected to wait before they began dating again — usually a year or more. As much as I love Karen, this idea makes me wonder if I shouldn’t wait a while before setting a wedding date.

Please advise, Apocalypse.  I honestly want to do the right thing, but I’m not sure what that is anymore.


Confused in Connecticut.


* * *


Dear Confused,

Your situation is one that many of us have struggled with.  The important thing to remember is that our options have become very limited.  We might not have the luxury to follow the niceties we practiced during easier times.

As for having a spouse declared legally dead?  I applaud you, Confused, for not bothering our law-enforcement staff with this problem.  They are too busy shooting looters to go searching for a missing body.

And how could you consider waiting a year to start dating again?  For many of us, our food supply might run out before the year is up.

Give yourself permission to take happiness where you can, and don’t worry about the folks who might judge you harshly based on outdated values.  Their opinion doesn’t matter.

They might not be around much longer, anyway.


The Apocalypse