What’s the hardest part of being a widow? It’s different for everyone, but meeting new friends is often at the top of the list. Here are three ways for widows to make friends while grieving and transitioning into widowhood.
From One Widow to Another: Conversations on the New You by Miriam Neff is a book that may help you as you grieve. Sometimes it helps to read how other widows coped with the loss of their husbands.
A widow shared a very touching comment on my article about Starting Over in Your 60s – After Your Husband Dies: “My husband died six months ago and I have never been single. I am 62 and I have no friends. My kids have their own lives and this is completely new to me. My husband was my life. I know one day I will have friends but I don’t know where to start. I tried a support group but I don’t like the group. I want to get to know people and meet new friends, but I don’t know how.”
I was in the same boat – not the widow part, but the meeting new friends part! After I moved to Bowen Island, BC to marry Bruce, I seemed to forget how to develop and sustain friendships. It was the weirdest thing. For some reason, marriage insulated me from meeting new friends. I think it was because I tend to cherish my alone time (I’m an introvert), and talking to Bruce takes care of my social needs.
But, it’s dangerous to let your marriage be the source of your friendship needs. If something happens to your husband – death, illness, divorce – then you’ll left all alone in so many ways. Then you’ll have to search for help for widows and meeting new friends online…but luckily, help is here.
3 Ways to Meet New Friends – Help for Widows
The following tips for widows may seem superficial and meaningless, but they can make a world of difference. The most important thing to remember is that it takes time to meet friends you actually connect with. For every 10 people I meet, I only want to spend time with one or two. We don’t connect with everyone, like my reader learned by going to a widow support group.
Adopt a dog. I don’t need to read more research about how dogs help with meeting new friends, but the University of Australia just published another study on it. People with dogs are emotionally, physically, and socially healthier. I think that it would help a widow to get a dog – and I have the perfect dog for a widow! Tiffy is a seven pounds miniature poodle, and all she wants is love and cuddles. It feels great to pet her, and when I walk her everyone wants to come say hi.
For more evidence that dogs are one of the best ways to meet new friends for widows, read Does Owning a Dog Make You Happy?
Volunteer. Helping people will help you as a widow help yourself, because you’ll feel more connected and less isolated. I volunteer as a Big Sister (but it hasn’t helped with meeting new friends, to tell you the truth), and will start volunteering as a book club facilitator at a retirement home for seniors next month. Hey – that’s another way to meet new people for widows: move to a retirement community! I’m mostly kidding, but I bet lots of people meet new friends there. Another option is a volunteer position that puts you in a position to help other widows.
Take up a new hobby at a seniors’ or community centre. Book clubs, bridge meetups, garden tours, seniors’ yoga classes, walking groups, and cooking classes are good ways to meet new friends. On a related note, have you searched the internet for “help for widows” with your location? When I search for “help for widows Vancouver BC”, I find a list of Meetup groups that encourage widows to meet new friends while trying new hobbies and activities.
I know it’s hard to meet new friends. It takes effort, time, and the willingness to be vulnerable and possibly risk rejection. But, finding friendship is important because, as Helen Keller said, “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”
Have you read any books that offer help for widows? Finding Your Way After Your Spouse Dies by Marta Felber is an excellent source of support and guidance.
An article that may offer help for widows is my interview with Peggy Nolan on grieving the end of a marriage.
What do you think about these tips for meeting new friends? I welcome your thoughts below.
7 Tips to Help Widows
These tips aren’t for widows, they’re for people who want to help widows grieve and move forward with life. These tips to help widows are from Widow Connection. If you’re a widow who feels alone, you might share these tips with your friends and family.
1. Please do stay connected. There is already a huge hole in our universe. Do not assume widows need ‘space’ to grieve.
2. Please do say you are sorry for our loss. We would rather you tell us you do not know what to say than tell us your story of loosing your friend or even close relative We may be able to listen to your story later, but not now. Do not tell us you understand.
3. Do call and ask specifically, “Can we go for a walk together? May I run errands for you? Meet you for coffee? Do not say, “Call me if you need anything.”
4. Do refer to our husband’s acts or words—serious or humorous. We are so comforted by knowing our husband has not been forgotten. Do not leave our husbands out of the conversation.
5. Invite widows to anything. We may decline but will appreciate being asked. Do not assume we no longer want to participate in couples events.
6. Do accept that widows are where we are. Marriages are brief, long, healthy, dysfunctional, intense, remote. Death comes suddenly or in tiny increments over years. Again our experiences are so different, as are we. So is our journey through grief. Do not assume we go through the outlined grief process ‘by the book.
7. Walk the talk. Do not make ‘conversation only’ offers. “We’ll call you and we’ll go out to dinner.”—and then not follow up. Yes, we are sensitive in our grieving, but we’d rather hear you say, “I’ve been thinking of you.” than make a ‘conversation only’ offer.
If you have any thoughts on these tips for helping widows, please comment below.