Cocoon to Butterfly

This month we are focusing on balance in our lives, especially in the midst of loss. We are looking at four areas of our lives: mind; body; spirit; and social.  We’ve asked hundreds of grievers for a personal piece of advice they’d like to share with others. This week is about nudging ourselves back to having a social life after a loss. Here is their collected wisdom about being social in the midst of grief.

Social? The last thing most new grievers want is to be social.  In the rawness of a new loss, having the energy to just get up, get dressed and brush your teeth can be a struggle. Going out to meet with friends may feel overwhelming, yet many widows suggest this is exactly what you need to do.

In fact the recurring piece of wisdom this year was to stay active. It seems like a simple piece of advice, but many newly bereaved would rather crawl in a hole than be active. If crawling in a hole seems like an attractive option, one woman cautioned, “don’t hibernate!” The wisdom got even more specific: Make new friends; be open to new connections; accept any invitations; do things for other people; and get out of your comfort zone!

Here are some of their ideas:

  • Say yes to every opportunity at least once.  If you don’t like it, you don’t have to do it twice!
  • Join a grief support group.
  • Say “yes” to invitations even when you want to say “not now.” If you wait until you are ready, everyone else has moved on and stopped asking you to join them.
  • Find new friends on the same path.
  • Stay connected with family, friends and neighbors who have been helpful.
  • Some friends will not be there for you. It will surprise you who is able to be present in your time of deep grief and who is not. This is normal. Friends change. Be open to having new friends enter your new life and understand that losing old friends may happen as well.
  • You may find yourself excluded from “couples” events. This may feel hurtful and isolating. Know this is normal. If you and your spouse were part of a couples group, let the group know you would still like to be involved.
  • Find a church group to volunteer with.  Help in the kitchen at parish funerals, volunteer as a receptionist, help with the Sharing and Caring Hands meals, or be a greeter at church. These groups will help you expand your social network and find new friends.

Next Week: Nurturing our Mind as Grievers

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