Moving on After Death of Spouse
Moving on after the death of a spouse presents a challenge for both men and women. We have lost our partner, confidant, lover, traveling and social companion.
How we move forward or on with life often is dependent on our age, the length of time we were married and the support we have of family and friends. I recently met JoAnn Deveny, author of the new book “I am Widow, Hear Me Roar: Confessions of a Surviving Spouse.” Below are some of JoAnn’s practical tips on how to get back into a social life following the death of your spouse.
Contributing author, JoAnn Deveny
Soon after my husband’s death, some astute couples, who knew that I would miss the routine Saturday night dates, continued to invite me to dinner as a third wheel. After being seated, it only took a few minutes for all to realize that vacant fourth chair was blatantly empty, and our relationships would never be the same as a threesome.
Nonetheless, our couple friends continued to invite me to their parties where the lack of one person wasn’t as noticeable. Soon I found that my usual manner had to be altered in these mixed-gender situations, and I learned it’s always good to come prepared.
Here are some tips to help you get back into a social life following the death of a spouse;
• If you feel more comfortable, car pool. However, this does not allow you a quick escape if you feel the need to leave. If you’d rather make a quick get-away, drive yourself.
• If you drive yourself, don’t over-consume alcohol. It doesn’t allow for that quick escape thing and DUIs are not fun—believe me.
• Better yet, invite a friend. Preferably, one who is comfortable in group situations. Plan ahead for a time limit that you both can agree on. Maybe have some fun with it and have a gesture or word which is code for “We’re out of here!”
• When you’re conversing with married men/women, don’t be surprised if the wife/husband suddenly materializes at their side—placing an arm around their spouses waist or clasping his/her hand as if claiming property. You are single now, you have been placed in the “threat” category. Include her/him in on the discussion, and if he/she’s not there, inquire about him/her in your conversation.
• If you feel comfortable, speak about your husband. That will relieve the tension for all, and possibly bring up conversation about him. You may be surprised, and you may not feel as alone.
• Above all, think of each person as an individual, don’t think of them as one of a couple. Each person is as unique as you are, with or without a spouse.
• Overall, if you’re newly bereaved—take it slowly. Be gentle with yourself and don’t take on too much responsibility. Stay away from cold germs and toxic people. Your body and your psyche are compromised.
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