Q: I’ve heard that it’s important to make new friends after you’re widowed. Why is that so and what’s your advice on meeting new people?
A: Your friends are more important than ever after your husband dies, providing emotional and social support that helps you negotiate the grieving process and get back on your feet. They know who you are and who your mate was — no explanations necessary. They know your history and share memories that comfort and strengthen you.
However, relationships can change in response to your new status. Some old friends may fade away, unable or unwilling to adjust to the shift from a “couples relationship” to something else. The dynamics are different, and new friends (including married ones and people younger than you are) can help fill this gap.
New friends come in handy for the times when old couple friends are busy with their own lives, especially on weekends. Because new friends didn’t know you in your role as a wife, they see you through different eyes and have no preconceived notions about you. You’re the woman at the supermarket, in the elevator or the computer class or the book club — or the new neighbor. You’re a clean slate without any baggage from the past.
These friends may be very different from your old ones. They may introduce you to interests or activities you never considered before and to novel ideas. They can inject new energy into your life and open vistas you never considered before. For example, a new friend of mine takes improvisation classes, and has sparked my own thinking about learning a new skill. New people can also be incredibly helpful, providing expertise or information. Few friends can top the value of someone who is not only congenial, but also a computer expert, or knows all about meditation and can introduce you to the practice. You may meet someone who shares a yen for a hobby you never pursued before because your mate wasn’t interested or you didn’t have the time.
Open your eyes and ears and be ready to start talking to people anywhere. Consider joining a group of some sort, whether a political or travel club or a volunteer organization. You never know who you’ll meet. Think, too, about acquaintances who might become available pals. Perhaps it’s time to take stock of likely prospects.
If you have a question for Florence, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Florence Isaacs is a freelance journalist,author — and a widow herself. Her books include My Deepest Sympathies, When the Man You Love Is Ill, What Do You Say When and Just a Note to Say...The Perfect Words for Every Occasion.
Image via Flickr Creative Commons/TheArches