updated 10/04/2012 AT 3:50 PM ET
•originally published 10/04/2012 AT 4:30 PM ET
Lisa Niemi is smiling once again about her love life.
Patrick Swayze’s wife of 34 years has started dating again, her rep confirms to PEOPLE (Swayze passed away in September 2009). The actor’s widow is seeing jeweler Albert DePrisco after meeting via a mutual friend during a celebration for Lisa’s birthday.
“It’s new, and they’re taking it slow,” the rep says.
Niemi, 56, who was by her husband’s side throughout his battle with cancer, unveiled a wax sculpture of Swayze last fall in Hollywood – two years after his death.
At the time, she reflected on her love for her husband, saying, “It became clear to me that someone had put a lot of love into this, for a man I loved so very much.”
She’s also spoken out about healing and finding hope after Swayze’s death, telling PEOPLE in 2010, “I know I’m stronger now. The fact that I’ve had some good days definitely gives me hope that I can have more.”