The choices we make

Anonymous wrote,

Sean, I need your help. My husband recently passed away from cancer and I feel like I have deceived him. He was bed ridden and in a near coma-like state for almost an entire year while cancer ravaged his body, which led me to join a support group in my city for spouses of people with terminal forms of cancer.

I was welcomed into the group by a man (Dan) who had a wife that was months away from dying, and he had been dealing with many of the same issues that I struggled with, so we became good friends over the next few months. That summer, a few months after his wife passed, we saw each other again, and slept together. It wasn’t a “hook up” meeting, we were both just talking and crying, and before I knew it we were making love. I instantly felt like I had ruined my marriage and I didn’t tell my two teen daughters, but I also wanted to see Dan again. He and I didn’t talk for another 6 months though. My husband deteriorated, but managed to muster up enough strength to awaken from his near coma-like state long enough to tell me he loved me, then he slipped back and died a few days later. I was shattered.  I wish I’d had a chance to explain to my husband and have him understand.  I asked Dan to give me space when he found out about my husband’s death after he called the house one day. I told him I needed more time to grieve, and he was patient.

We saw each other in early spring and we have seen each other every day since. My children are upset, even while unaware of what happened while their father was dying but they don’t like the idea of me moving on so quickly and they have even asked me to never introduce Dan into their lives. I want so badly to tell them my side of things and make them understand that I made a mistake in doing what I did, but I also feel like I had an entire year to grieve my husband while he was incapacitated, and I have been able to grow and love again.

What do I do here? I don’t want to lose my family, but I don’t want to lose Dan.

I don’t know how much you will have to say about this, but I appreciate anything you have to say.



Our lives are the direct result of the choices we make.  Your daughters may feel you’ve made some mistakes with the choices you made while your husband was comatose, and you may also feel guilt for what you’ve done, but the fact is, you already made those choices, and now you must deal with the aftermath.  Are you happy with Dan?  Is it a productive and loving relationship or just a sexual one?  Why do you want to tell your children what happened rather than just let them move on and eventually accept Dan for who he is to you?

I think you’ve been looking for justification.  You want your daughters to understand and accept your actions and you wanted your husband to understand why you did what you did, and I think it’s because you have some underlying guilt for every decision you made during this whole ordeal and you’re looking for a way out.  You want to escape your guilt rather than face up to what you’ve done and try to move on.  Your daughters don’t need to understand or accept, but I do recommend letting them know the whole story.  They may be upset and it may get emotional, but that’s okay and should be expected.  You don’t have the chance to tell your husband, so I’d also recommend talking to a therapist and determining the next course of action for you and Dan.  If it’s a loving relationship you’ve got, then be happy with what you’ve got.  If it’s strictly sexual, I’d say you’re better off alone for awhile.

The point I am trying to make is that you’ve made your choices and you have to work through anything caused by those choices, but your choices don’t define you, they just shape the life around you.  You aren’t a bad person, no matter how you feel…there are just some people that would say you made some bad choices.  I hope you are able to repair the relationship with you and your daughters and I hope things go well for you in the future.