How to NOT be a Stay at Home, Lonely Widow.

Friends are all getting together on Friday night.  You are recently a widow and not part of a couple anymore.  You were invited so the question is, should you stay or should you go now?

If you stay home, it is safe.  You can be sad and watch a T.V. show.  Start a new binge watching marathon.  You could eat and drink and stay in your pajamas and cuddle a pet or a pillow.  You could think about your dead spouse and do some crying.  Or maybe some screaming.

But what if you go…

I know a lot of newly widowed people feel guilty going out and enjoying themselves.  They think they should continue to be mourning all the time.  Maybe they are worried about what others will think of them? What if it looks like you are happy and having fun. People will get the wrong idea.

Maybe they thrive on the attention they get from people who feel sorry for them?

But eventually, the other people will not really be interested.  In fact, most of us think that other people are always thinking about us, but no one really is.  They are thinking about themselves, just like you are.

So, how do you transition from a mourning widow to a widow who is ready to embrace life again.

This step can be scary, especially if you have spent a long time with your spouse and did “everything” together.  You need to begin with

baby steps.

Ridiculously enough, one of the hardest places for me to venture out to was the grocery store.  I did not know how to shop for just me.  I was overwhelmed with sadness. The first time out I felt like I was having a panic attack. I put a few things in the cart and checked out. But I did it.

The next step was to try to speak to the salesclerk or ask someone for assistance in the store.  Engaging in a brief conversation with a stranger is one way to start getting out there.

I found it easier to shop or have a meal out, by myself, if I am not in my home town. As a local school teacher I tend to run into people I know if I shop or go out near home.

I don’t always want to engage in conversation, especially about the death of my husband.  People ask

“how are you doing?”

Not sure what they expect to hear, but they can’t imagine how I am doing and I don’t want to go into it so I usually would say “I’m Ok” or “taking it one day at a time”.   Then I redirect the conversation to my kids or their kids if they have some.

Eating out someplace like the food court in a mall is a great way to start doing things on your own. Another place where you won’t feel awkward eating alone is Starbucks or Panera.  You order something, then sit down to enjoy it in public.  Everyone is staring at their phones these days so bring one with you so you don’t feel left out.

Once I went out a few times it got easier. In fact I had no problem eating alone in restaurants in Thailand with my tablet or a book on the table.  I made it to Bangkok!

My friends were very sweet and I was invited to do things.  I said yes to everything.  If you don’t say yes, you will stop getting those invitations.  I had FOMO (fear of missing out) too. I was happier being out of my house, especially in the evenings and on weekends.  I worked during the week, so I guess I did not like being alone in my house much at all.


Maybe that is why I named my blog “Runawaywidow”, it was easier for me to runaway from reality in the beginning, than to deal with it.

When I was ready, I embraced my feelings. It took time, and honestly some therapy, but I did face my grief and trudged through the pain.

In addition to accepting invitations, I sought new encounters:

I visited GROUPON and signed up for some YOGA classes.  The central idea of following your breath and focusing for the hour long class, as well as building strength and flexibility, really helped me get through some tough days.  It also gave me a reason to get out of my house and I didn’t have to talk to other people, just participate.
Some neighbors invited me to join them in Bridge lessons.  I did not know a thing about Bridge, but it was another thing to do every Wednesday night. After that several of us joined the program at the local library to learn how to play Mahjong.  I’m going to need a lot more lessons to get the hang of that game.

Luckily for me my kids are college age, so I was able to participate in a few girlfriend weekend getaways.  It doesn’t matter if the women are widowed (very few of my friends are), divorced or married – Girl’s weekends are for the GIRLS!! Widow’s Guide to the Girlfriend Getaway

We have had theme weekends like saying we were going to do YOGA.  There was the music festival in Colorado and the Spa weekend in Montauk.  You can count on me to pack my overnight bag and bottle of wine and join the group for all the fun festivities we will create.

My grief therapist suggested I look into finding a “Meet up” in the area that does something I would be interested in.  The idea is that a group of about 20 strangers meet to do something together.  You can bring a friend or go alone.

My friend and I tried a Meet Up in New York City where we went on a scavenger hunt competition.  We had fun running around Manhattan taking pictures, but we didn’t meet anyone new that day. The second meet up I went on was to the Bronx Zoo.  I went by myself and enjoyed walking around the zoo with the group. I did speak to one woman who spent the whole time telling me how sad and lonely she was.  I would suggest chatting about other things with strangers.

So, after 2 years of visiting family, having fun with friends, working and traveling I was starting to have better days.  Mind you, there are still trigger moments and especially times of the year like his birthday and the day he died that I remember and miss Mike, but I try not to obsess about the negative anymore, and refocus my attention on some of the best moments that we shared together.

We loved going out to dinner or the movies and taking walks on the beach… Which brings me to the idea of dating. I had talked to some divorced friends who had tried online dating sites.  I saw their profiles and they showed me pictures of the men who would wink at them or send them messages.  It seemed kind of fun, but I would never…

After one of my best friends met someone really nice, I thought I would just peek.  I didn’t sign up or anything, just wanted to look.  It’s like going to the ocean and maybe just getting your toes wet. Well, I always loved the ocean so I dove right in and went on a date. My criteria was that he should be taller than me and live nearby. The date went really well. So we went on a few more dates.  He makes me smile just writing about him.

I was in a very good marriage for 26 years.  I liked being married. It wasn’t always easy but we worked through the tough times and learned to love and appreciate each other more and more as the years went on.

My husband was my best friend.  He adored me and made me happy.  We looked forward to our evenings together even the simple times like eating dinner and watching TV.

We were happy with our sons and were looking forward to having more time together in retirement. I will always miss him, but I don’t want to be a sad and lonely widow.

I did get a puppy.  That definitely helped.  He makes me laugh so it’s hard to be sad when you are laughing and I am not lonely, because he sits on my lap or snuggles next to me when I sleep. Should you get a puppy after the death of a spouse?

So remember, baby steps.  The store.  Starbucks.  A restaurant.  Girl’s weekend.  A meet up.  Maybe a date. Or maybe a puppy. What will work for you?

How not to be a stay at home lonely widow


View posts by runawaywidow
At the age of 51 I unexpectedly became a widow. For the first 6 months after my husband died, I was in shock and numb. I journaled and with the help of friends, family and therapists was able to get back to living my old life, even if it is now very different. Before I was married, I had spent a semester in England and backpacked around Europe. My husband and I moved from New York to California for 8 years and started a family. Travelling took a back seat to raising a family and going to work everyday. Since the loss of my husband I have visited a lot of places with family and friends and took a solo trip to Thailand. I am enjoying sharing my stories and adventures as well as some of my insights to how I am traveling the path of being a widow. I hope to share my stories and adventures as well as some thoughts on being a middle aged widow. While I have some great experiences traveling to Thailand and cruising to Central America, some of my adventures involve a trip to see a Broadway show in nearby Manhattan and a shopping trip at Bed, Bath and Beyond. If I can inspire anyone to go out and continue to live a good life that would be my greatest accomplishment.


  1. Kristin, it’s so lovely to read you have been on a few dates and enjoyed yourself. It doesn’t diminish the love you shared with your husband, that will always be there it simply means you are healing and it’s good to fill yourself up.
    Keep moving one step at a time.

  2. I stayed at home or work for 2 years and then decided to move from the UK to the South of France. If I hadn’t I think I would still be following the same home/work pattern; I have a social life here now but still find it a real challenge to go out and try new things – I do it but it’s hard. 4 years on I still can’t think of dating; I wish I could as I miss feeling close to someone and I’m so happy for you that you’ve met someone and enjoyed their company. Lovely post x

    1. Thanks for reading. Takes a lot of courage to move and start fresh. Sounds like a beautiful place to live and I’m glad a social life has developed there for you.

  3. Thank you for such an honest post. My husband died three years ago and I want to embrace life and live a full life, but it is hard every single day. Thank you for helping me see the longer view.

  4. Baby steps are the truest form. I know that was something that I had to do when a relationship ended in my life and I really needed to pick myself up again

  5. I totally agree with this. I had a friend who was recently widowed and she felt guilty going out. Just shared this post with her.

    Also, I am happy to you are starting to embrace life again. Taking baby steps is the key.

    Thank you for writing this post.

  6. I think it’s great that your sharing your journey on this blog, I’ve never seen anyone else write about it. I can imagine taking those first steps to the grocery store, foor hall being incredibly challenging 💚

  7. I can’t even begin to understand what you’ve gone through. I can only imagine that it is a slow process and you just have to do what’s best and what works for you.

  8. What a great read and I’m sure you’re going to help and let them know they’re not alone! One day at a time

  9. I agree with baby steps. Just doing what’s comfortable in the moment even small can make a difference

  10. The worst thing is to stay at home and not to enjoy your life. That’s nice to read that you are having some fun and you know how to handle things. 🙂

  11. I think your husband would want you to enjoy life even though he may not be here on earth to enjoy it with you. I don’t think it’s wrong at all to enjoy yourself, even after our loved ones die. Just for me personally, I know that if I died, I still would want the loved ones that are here one earth to live passionately and joyfully–not for my sake, but for theirs.

  12. This was really heartwarming to read. I’m sure your husband would have wanted to see you happy and getting on with your life.

  13. I really enjoyed your blog. My husband passed June 23rd of 2018. Very encouraging. I tend to stay home unless visiting the grandkids and even that is very short.

    1. I’m glad you found my blog encouraging. Baby steps to just get out there, it will get easier – just keep going.

      1. My husband of 50+ years died July 1, 2018 and the past year+ has been really hard. I tend too to stay home too much, eat stupid meals and watch way too much TV…something I rarely used to do. This is the biggest challenge of my life. It just hurts.

      2. Wow. Congratulations on such a long marriage! It is so hard. It might help to join a local bereavement group. People in the same situation can be very supportive and it’s a way to make new friends and get out there.

    2. I enjoyed your Blog. My Husband of 40 yrs. Passed away on FEBRUARY 8th,2019. It has now been 4 months. I tend to sit n do nothing. I am now going to see our Grandkids play Softball n baseball .it is very hard at times but we did that together. I tend to stay home but it still so difficult Lonioness is Bad. I cry at Games .iThank You for Sharing this. I told myself ONE DAY AT A TIME NOW BABY STEPS. THANK YOU AGAIN FOR SHARING

      1. Thank you so much for reading. It really is such a hard time but I find putting 3 things on a to do list, even things like walk around block or call a friend really helps. One day at a time. Hugs

  14. My boyfriend and I were in a car accident this past March & he passed away. We’re only 17 so we weren’t married but I feel like I can really relate to this. Thank You for writing this !

  15. The thing about the idea that your friends are going to invite you places is so far off the mark for most widows. I hear it over and over again and it happened to me. Your married friends stop inviting you anywhere. They drop you colder than a iceberg. You are no longer part of a couple. You are a single woman and therefore not to be trusted. You might go after their husband or he might go after you.

    1. Yes. That is so unfair. Some people seem threatened by widows. It may be time to look for different friends. People who are more comfortable going out as friends. Lunches. Sign up for classes together. Yoga or some regular exercise class.

      1. I really like your Blog, I just lost my husband of 37 years totally unexpected on a cruise ship, he died in his Sleep Dec 5, 2019. I am trying to Cope, but it is very hard, and it goes in streaks. I am going to try and do some of your suggestions. Thanks for the great advice.

      2. Thank you for reading. I am so sorry for your loss. Take it minute by minute and just remember you need to be gentle with yourself now. It will get easier. Sending a hug.

  16. All I can say is its flippin’ difficult. Ive been widowed nearly 10 years. I was 57 when my husband died and plunged into ‘widow city’. This means your peers become almost exclusively older women – because before – nearly all my peers still had their partners. Its a very partnercentric world out there. You feel missed out of so many things.
    Couples do things with other couples.
    Widow city because you find that nearly every group you join is nearly always lots of women and no men. You can virtually guatantee this.
    I honestly thought I would meet someone quite quickly but you soon realise that any half way attractive man will already have a partner. Its so frustrating
    I hate it. Its such a lonely life not having someone close who can ‘be there for you’. Having to go to things on your own. Not having someone who you can just pop out to the pub or a restaurant with. You have to be the adult all the time and never the child. I dont know if theres anything I can do about this situation. Im 67 now and lost.

  17. I’m alittle over 5 months since my hubby John of 31 years passed. I’m getting through it and although I get a lot of flack I’m trying to move on little by little. Your article was really helpful. The best advice I can share is finding what truly makes you happy as for meci married young and trying online dating has had its ups and downs but that is really the only place to find a male companion and its very hard to tell if they are honest. So protect your heart but go for it. That’s the only way to see what the next chapter might look like

    1. I’m glad my blog was helpful. Yes, when you feel ready it is fine to get out there and meet new people. Good luck.

  18. I found your blog early 2020, a month or so after my husband Scott passed. He was 51, I was 50 and we met the first year of school at the age of 5. He was not just my husband but my best friend, we did everything together, my soul mate. I have been extremely lucky to have a wonderful support group in not just my family but lifelong friends and workmates. The first few months I did whatever I felt was best for me, go back to work, visit friends or just stay home with me two kitties and let my grief wash over me.

    I started doing things on my own, which was hard at first, but I am starting to be comfortable with my own company and I am amazed at the people I have met just being out and about. Whatever I was invited to, I said yes, but always drove myself so I could leave if/when I needed to.

    Your blog really helped in those early months and even now, 15 months later.

    1. This is such a nice comment. Thanks for sharing. That is amazing that you met your husband at the age of 5. It’s wonderful that you have taken steps to get out on your own. Thanks for reading my blog.

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