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Dear Annie: Parenthood after loss – new relationships

A little girl looks sad and pensive

Dear Annie I’ve been seeing someone and after eight months, things are getting serious. It’s been four years since my partner died of cancer and it took a long time for me to get in the happier place I am in now.

My focus was on bringing up my daughter, who’s now nine. We’re incredibly close. At some point, if things continue to go well, I’m going to have to tell her that there is someone new in my life. I’m worried about how she will accept and adapt to a change that could be wonderful, but may make her feel rejected and lost – WD.

Annie says: First of all let me say congratulations on your relationship. How wonderful that you have found happiness and built a relationship with someone new after what must have been a terribly painful time.

I can really hear how much you love and care for your daughter and she is very lucky to have such a dedicated parent who clearly has been able to put her first, even in the most challenging times. Please try and take this on board, because it may serve you in feeling confident about telling her about your relationship.

I appreciate how difficult it might be, and yes, she may well feel all sorts of uncomfortable things like rejection and loss. But, they are natural responses to change, not necessarily evidence that the change itself is wrong.

Ultimately the best thing you can do for your daughter is look after your own wellbeing. If you are unhappy, then no matter how much she may have of you or your time, she won’t be happy either. So really try and trust that you have absolutely done – and are doing – your best for her. There are many gifts and lessons for her in seeing you find love and happiness with someone else.

As you say, you are incredibly close, so trust this closeness, and when the time is right, open up this dialogue. As long as you are really clear and honest and leave plenty of room for her to respond in whatever way she needs, you will both be able to move forward towards acceptance.

If you’ve lost someone close to you, or been affected by a bereavement, psychotherapist Annie Broadbent is here to help. If you have a question for her to answer in this column, write to her at

About Annie

Annie Broadbent is a trained psychosynthesis counsellor, with specialist experience working with the bereaved. As a therapist she explores the mind, body, feelings and spirit, working with individuals in a way that is most appropriate for them.

She is the author of bestselling book Speaking of Death (What the Bereaved Really Need), inspired by personal experiences of living through bereavement, including her own. Whilst writing her book, Annie volunteered at St Christopher's Hospice and has given a number of talks on issues around grief, bereavement and mental health.

Regretfully, Annie cannot enter into personal correspondence

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