When it comes to starting a new relationship after losing a partner, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t matter what other people think, a counsellor has said.

BACP member Susan Carr spoke to us after Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas revealed this week that he was in the early stages of a “new romance”, a year after his wife Gemma died from cancer.

Simon, who was a Blue Peter presenter from 1999 until 2005, told BBC Radio 5 Live earlier this week:

“I don’t think you ever really do move on from what’s happened. That hole that a loved one leaves doesn’t shrink over time. Life begins to grow around it.

“Right from the start I felt, I’ve got to find life again.”

He said he wanted people to understand that he was not replacing Gemma.

“This is potentially an area that can cause a lot of hurt. There’s a lot of misunderstanding that comes from this – we equate meeting someone else with forgetting the person who’s gone.

“There are no shoes left to be filled. There will never be another Gemma. We are unique – we come to the table with our different personalities. If you’re embarking on a new relationship, comparing is ultimately a futile task. There is no comparison.”

Grief is a unique experience

Susan said people often have concerns about what people think, when they start a new relationship following their partner’s death.

“Grief is a unique experience. Everyone goes through the process in a different way. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

“When it comes to starting a new relationship, it doesn’t matter what people think about it, it’s what you want to do.

“People are often concerned about whether it looks like they are moving on too quickly. Or sometimes it’s the opposite, and they have people saying to them that it’s been so many months since your partner died and it’s time to get out there.”

Susan, who has a practice in Greater Manchester and a special interest in bereavement counselling, added:

“Many people feel guilty or that they are being disloyal. It is important to understand that moving on with life doesn’t mean you don’t love that person anymore. People manage their grief and move on with their life in different ways. There is no right or wrong and it’s important the person grieving comes to their own decision about how to handle this.

“Part of the work we do around grief is all about moving on with life. It is healthy to do that.

“A complicating factor can be with children, particularly adult children who can, perhaps, be more vocal. Because people grieve differently it can be difficult if one member of the family is moving on more quickly than another. It is about managing relationships with different people.”

If you want to seek advice or help about bereavement you can search our therapist directory to find a BACP counsellor.