It’s the beginning of a new year and Happy New Year is being heard almost everywhere you venture. Although for those who have experienced the loss of a spouse, the start of this year may not be quite so happy.
As a widow of seven years, I know how difficult the transition from couple to singleness is. It is natural to miss and long for the familiarity of your spouse’s companionship; though we know that no amount of longing will ever bring them back.
It’s not unusual to get caught up in the grief and sadness—while simultaneously facing a mountain of responsibilities now left to you alone. Basic day to day tasks including caring for children and your wellbeing can leave you feeling overwhelmed and inadequate.
Widows and widowers often feel a sense of loneliness after losing their spouse. This is not only due to the loss of companionship but also as a result of people being uncomfortable talking about death. They are unsure of what is appropriate to say, so they instead stay away in hopes that you will soon get over your loss. They give you space and time to return to your former self again, waiting out your grieving from a distance.
Why do I feel so lonely since losing my spouse?
There are several reasons you may experience loneliness after losing a spouse. Mutual friendships that were filled with couples based activities tend to fall away within the first few weeks or months of losing your spouse.
Another after-effect of your spouse’s passing is not only the loss of companionship but the smaller losses that follow. Once the burial is over, people tend to believe the grieving period ends. It is at this point you can expect social invitations to stop, phone calls become few and far between, and those who visited immediately following the death suddenly stop; visits from friends and even family members become nearly nonexistent.
I know what it’s like to feel like no one understands your grief. It can feel isolating when you don’t have anyone to talk to about it— sometimes you need someone who listens without judging.
If what you’re reading here resonates with you, know that you are not alone. And I want to help!
Here are some ways you can keep yourself from falling into a pit of despair and extreme loneliness.
• Be open about your feelings:
Let the people around you know it’s okay if they don’t understand why you’re sad or angry. Don’t try to mask those feelings from them; instead, let them know that you’re sad or angry (and why). If they don’t understand what you’re going through, it’s okay—talk about it with someone else! Connect with other people who have been through similar experiences: Widow Groups are great places where you can talk about your feelings without feeling judged or misunderstood. I recommend Widows In Stilettos, a private Facebook group by Wainger D. Flowers, a fellow widow and author. This group was and continues to be a safe space for me as a widow.
Another way to express your emotions is journaling. This is a great way to express your emotions and allow yourself to release them without judgement from others. If you have never practiced journaling before or you need a guided journal, hop over to Amazon and grab a copy of my Get Up & LEAD 90 Day Guided Journal. It is filled with journal quotes, helps with setting intentions, affirmations, reflections and gratitude prompts.
• Reignite your love for old hobbies and develop new skills:
Loneliness is quite complex; it is a difficult feeling to shake off especially when you are home alone without anyone to talk with. Staying occupied with activities that give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment alleviates the feelings of loneliness.
Take some time to reflect on things you loved in the past but may have placed on the back burner after marriage and starting a family. Now is the best time to pick up those hobbies you once enjoyed and revitalize them. For me, I resumed reading and rediscovered my love for writing as a result. Today, I’m a bestselling author and used much of my widowhood journey to help others gain clarity and live a life they love and enjoy.
Another great way to develop skills is by joining a volunteer organization or taking classes either virtually or in person depending on what is right for you at this time. You may find that initially, virtual is easier, then you can transition to in person.
• Do something exciting, treat yourself:
Do something that makes you happy! Whether spending time with friends or going out on your own and doing something fun, try to be happy despite what’s happened. If you love music, connect with friends and attend a concert or have dinner where there’s live entertainment.
Explore! Take a trip to a destination that has been on your bucket list for some time. If you fear solo travel, nowadays there are companies that specialize in organizing group travel. Up In the Air Life is an option you can look at for group travel arrangements and it could be a way to meet new people and forge lifelong friendships.
• Take care of yourself physically and mentally.
Exercise daily (even if it’s just walking around the block!); walking outdoors is also therapeutic and a great way to connect with nature and reflect on life simultaneously. Eat healthy foods and drink lots of water (even if it feels like too much work); when you are taking care of your physical health, mentally you are in a healthy state as well.
Make sure you are getting adequate rest! This one can be tough as loneliness usually shows up at bedtime. What I found helpful was filling my day with activities I enjoyed so that I would be tired enough to fall asleep easily. Additionally, establishing a bedtime routine that gets you ready for sleep helps. Playing relaxing music, switching off the television and placing your phone on silent so that you are not disturbed by sudden noises which can interrupt your sleep. If this doesn’t do enough to help, try using a lavender spray on your pillow or in your bath water right before bed. Lavender soothes and relaxes you and helps to get you off to sleep rather quickly.
Loneliness After a Spouse’s Death
Remember, being physically alone and being lonely are not the same. The grief and pain of losing your spouse will eventually soften. It is important that you make room in your life for new experiences, new relationships, new ideas and embrace new opportunities that will present itself. These new experiences will help fill the void left as a result of the loss of your spouse.
Was this helpful? I’d love to hear from you. If there are topics related to widowhood that you’d like me to cover, please contact me by direct message or email: firstname.lastname@example.org