“Only other widows can understand what you are going through” I have been told. I had forgotten this until a recent gathering of widows at a restaurant for dinner. It is a safe space to talk about your husband and family without getting weird looks or making friends feel uncomfortable. I guess the bottom line is the shared experience and all the diverse ways of coping. You can see it in others, a time for crying, a time for sadness, and a time for joy all rolled into one. You don’t have to know each other well to know what we are going through. There are so many decisions to make and a life to build. We discuss our children and how they are coping. It’s a place where your kids in therapy feels normal again as many share recommendations for their therapist.
I hope we can be that for each other here as well. A common experience building trust and encouragement among ourselves. I have been so lucky to have great people surrounding me with love and support. I hope that for you as well. But there are things we can do to open ourselves up to relationships. Here are some suggestions that have helped me.
Helping others helps you by taking your attention off yourself. It is always a mood elevator to feel you are helping others. But an extra remarkable thing about it is the people you meet, whether it be who you are helping or other volunteers.
2. Join a group:
Find a group that feels right for you whether it is a grief support group or a social group. This can help you find people to share ideas and share common interests.
3. Get involved in your faith:
It’s a suitable time for whatever that means to you. There are book clubs, places of worship, and faith groups. Connect with others of your faith or explore other faiths with new crowds.
4. Do something new:
I mention this a lot but putting yourself beyond your comfort zone and taking chances opens new possibilities of new friends and relationships.
There’s a balance between finding your place where you feel “normal” or comfortable again and sometimes finding your place in unlikely places when we embrace new experiences. Just in the last few weeks I have done several new things, I would have never done before now. I painted a house for Habitat for Humanity with other church volunteers. I worked the reception desk at our church’s senior prom for those over 70. I drove nearly an hour each way to have dinner with other widows in a social widow’s group. I have had a ball doing these things and they are all new experiences. We can continue to grow and make new relationships by opening ourselves to others and new situations. There is a place where we feel normal and comfortable again. We just need to find it and be that for each other. Let me know what you have done to increase your relationships.