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If you’ve taken on the role of victim, Carlson suggests leaving the “perpetual pity party” so you can transition into your new life as a single woman.

First relationships are meant to help you heal, to move out of the loss you’ve experienced and then move on.“I don’t prescribe rules,” says Carlson, “I encourage people to find their own way. I just know what I needed.” Because widowhood is not a journey we choose, and there is no one way to do it, she suggests tossing the “sure advice” from others out the window.

It took Carlson more than a year before she would put herself out there on the dating block, and she only went there because she felt like it was time. If you’re unsure how to know when that is, she says your biological clock will tell you.

So when I learned about Carlson’s success with her support network, I decided to ask her to share some tips about how you can make dating your next healthy choice:“It’s easy to jump right into a new relationship,” she says, “but if you want to attract a healthy relationship, it starts with being healthy yourself.” You deserve the time to heal, no matter how long it takes.

Six years after the death of her beloved husband, Carlson, has yet to remarry and says she’s just now “starting to warm up to the idea.”“My first encounter [after Richard] was a healing relationship,” she says.

From that experience, she created a grief support group and wrote a book about the grieving process called "Heart-Broken Open."Although dating is not the reason her readers visit the site or buy her book, it is a topic of discussion that comes up and is addressed, and Carlson, who is grandmother to two young boys, does have a lot to say about it.

As a widow myself, I know it’s not an easy transition to make.Whether it’s a date or sex, she says widows sometimes have to give themselves permission to participate.Often, they are dealing with guilt, feeling as though they’d be betraying the spouse or the marriage, and that has to be healed.She felt lonely and wanted the companionship, so she let it be that.“Don’t be too hasty to jump into a real relationship,” she says.“Something will click, and you’ll just know.”Seriously. This new time alone with yourself gives you the best opportunity to explore your own needs, your own body, your own desires.