“I take you for my lawful wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death does us part.”

Remarriage is beautiful and redemptive. Remarriage proves that second chances are possible and that love doesn’t come in one specific shape or size. Remarriage is the embrace of hope as much as it is of love. Remarriage shows that love is still possible through heartbreak.

But let’s face it, when you aren’t the one remarrying, remarriage can be a little awkward. Add in that you are the progeny of the bridegroom, and it is downright weird. And trust me, weird is the right word for it. How many people have been to a parent’s and grandparent’s weddings in their lifetime? Bonus points if you attended after meeting your own spouse.

Unlike some people, when I attended these weddings, it was the direct consequence of death. Each respective spouse has lost their significant other and consequently found each other. One of the deceased spouses was my mother and the other was my grandmother. My father and grandfather remarried.

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At the marriage ceremonies, the names of the deceased spouses are memorialized, and pictures taken from obituary photographs are silent witnesses to the nuptials. I can’t help but think how these remarriages are tainted with death.

Death robbed us of wonderful people who were loved and who loved us in return. It rocked our worlds when they died. We all wondered how we would survive without them and got used to their absence like you get used to an amputation.

Although I was sitting at these weddings, I am the furthest thing from moving on. I’m still grieving the loss of my mother and grandmother. It feels like I have to forfeit their role to someone I barely know. Although I know it isn’t true, I feel like my mother and grandmother are being forgotten and replaced. 

My father and grandfather have found someone to take over the role of spouse, but I haven’t found someone to take on the role of mother and grandmother. It is like I am being dragged along in a marathon and can’t catch my breath. 

All that being said, that doesn’t mean I’m not happy for them, but it is still weird.

I’ve looked up articles online about dealing with the specific grief that comes from remarriage, and there isn’t much. I mean, how many people have been married longer than their grandfathers? Or have known their husband longer than their stepmother? It is a little uncomfortable.

I want someone to tell me that it is okay, but I haven’t found that article yet or that person with that niche experience. So, you’re going to hear it from me first:

Love and grief aren’t mutually exclusive. You can be happy for your loved ones while feeling a profound sense of loss.

No one will ever replace your loved ones. I don’t care if your mother is marrying the pope, no one can replace your loved one. It in no way changes how you care for your new stepparent/grandparent/sibling or how good of a person they are, some intimate roles can’t be filled. Accept it and move on. 

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Don’t feel the need to conform. Call her Mom, send him a Father’s Day card, you can go to them with anything . . . If you don’t feel comfortable, then don’t do it. There is no need to be cruel, but you don’t have to do anything to make them happy. Although your loved one may see their spouse as a fresh start, you don’t have to. Treat both parents with respect and love but don’t feel the need to treat their spouse like your parent or grandparent. Boundaries exist for a reason.

Share their joy. Whether you like it or not, try to be happy for them. Remarriage is a second chance. They are grieving too whether it is through death or divorce, but they are now no longer alone and have found someone who understands and respects their loss. It will never be the same again, but at least they are happy. How often did you think you’d never be happy again? This is a great moment for them, so don’t bring them down.

“Are you prepared to love and honor each other for as long as you both shall live as you follow the path of marriage?”

Remarriage is a challenge, but the love is worth it. As you politely applaud at the wedding and congratulate the newlyweds, make sure you also take some time for yourself to grieve.

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Jessica Dickenson

Jessica Dickenson is a marketing professional and freelance writer from Milwaukee, WI. Her work appears in the 2023 anthology "Along the Shore: Strategies for Living with Grief." Beyond her university marketing role, she runs a small business and contributes as an ARC reviewer and interviewer of emerging authors. Jessica's insights, reviews, and musings are shared on her blog at https://jessicadickenson.wordpress.com/

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