Ask Dr. Phil: Celeste and Don

A Grieving Widower
Dr. Phil talks to a woman who is upset that her boyfriend of two years still keeps his house as a shrine to his deceased wife.
Celeste has been dating her boyfriend, Don, seriously for two years. She wrote to Dr. Phil because she says that her boyfriend's house is a shrine to his late wife, who died of cancer three years ago.

"Don was married to Maui for over 10 years and she was the love of his life," explains Celeste. "I can't cope with coming [to his house] and feeling like I'm constantly in a shrine to his wife. In the bathroom, there's her makeup bag and her robe hanging on the door. It's just eerie seeing that every day. I constantly hear her voice [saying], 'Get out of my house. This is my house. I had this house with him.' Dr.Phil, how do I find my place in his heart when I know he's still mourning the loss of his wife?"
"My wife's vibe is in this house," says Don. "For Celeste, it's been hard because my wife's pictures are still up. I don't want anyone to tell me when they think I should take them down. I don't do it to hurt Celeste. But I have to mourn in my own way. There is no timetable on grieving."

"Do you want to move on?" Dr. Phil asks Don. "And let me tell you, that's not an easy question to answer. I understand because a lot of people fear that if they ever say, 'I'm letting this go. I'm turning and fully committing my mind and heart and energy and attention to someone else,' that it's an act of betrayal. Some people think that the length and depth of their mourning is a direct reflection of the breadth and width of how much they loved that person at the time. They think, 'If I loved them a lot, then I'll mourn them a long time. And if I cut that off, it's an insult. It writes on the tablet of how much I love them and makes it finite.'"

"I never looked at it in that sense," says Don.
"As long as I [remain] where I'm living, the place where my wife and I lived, I feel I can have the pictures there," says Don.

"I never ask anybody to substitute my judgment for their own," explains Dr. Phil. "I'll just tell you what I think and you guys can take that and weigh it ... I'm going to tell you that after three years, to still have [your deceased wife's] robe hanging on the door, her makeup sitting on the counter, her pictures all around the house and to be so focused on [her] is probably not in your best interest."

Turning to Celeste, Dr. Phil says, "You have to make a decision about how much time you're willing to put your life on hold for somebody who's telling you, 'I don't know when, if ever, I'm going to get to the place that you want me to be with regard to this mourning process or with regard to marriage.'"