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

 

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Comments

42 comments on “How to NOT be a Stay at Home, Lonely Widow.”
  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.
    Shannyn

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thank you. I agree. I don’t want to get stuck and it takes some work to get out there.

  2. Addie says:

    Positive attitude, baby steps,, up, down, up, down, up, up, down etc etc ect

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Yes. It really is all about attitude!

  3. Keep moving forward, who know the best thing is waiting for you in the next day, so positive mind, positive attitude, baby steps but keep moving.

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks. I agree

  4. 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. runawaywidow says:

      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.

      1. It is and thank you 😊

  5. Kathy says:

    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.

    1. runawaywidow says:

      So sorry for your loss. Just keep taking those baby steps forward. Thanks for reading.

  6. This is such a great and much needed post. I have a few friends going through this and it’s so hard to try to give advice. Can”t wait to share this,

  7. Emily says:

    The advice about yoga classes is so good! Find your community!

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks. Yoga has been so helpful.

  8. Bina says:

    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

    1. runawaywidow says:

      So true. In many cases that is the only way to move forward.

  9. 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.

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks for sharing and your nice comment.

  10. 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 💚

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks. It’s been a healing process for me writing and I hope that it has been helpful to others on this path – thanks for reading

      1. I’m genuinely sure it has been 💚

  11. 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.

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks. It is a path no one ever chooses to go down, that’s why I’m sharing. Thanks for reading

  12. Josie says:

    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

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks. Yes, that’s the only way to move forward

  13. Cristine says:

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

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks. Right just keep moving forward at whatever speed works for you.

  14. Natalia says:

    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. 🙂

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks. It takes effort but I hope by sharing my story it helps others too

  15. Losing someone doesnt mean you cannot enjoy your life. By enjoying it the love for your husband will never diminish. Thanks for sharing this wonderful positive post!!

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks. I think you do honor our loved ones by living a good life for both of us.

  16. Patricia G. says:

    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.

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks for your comment. It is hard to get used to the new life but getting out is what got me past the hardest time

  17. Jojo Hua says:

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

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks. That’s really nice to hear.

  18. You have a great blog. Would you like to share your story on “What You Blog About”
    what motivated you to start this blog ?

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Sure. How do I do that?

      1. You may submit your story by filling out the form on this page: http://www.whatyoublogabout.com/contact

      2. Thank you for your interest to share your blogging story. You may submit your story by filling out the form on this page: http://www.whatyoublogabout.com/contact

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