If a loved one has recently been widowed, they’re probably experiencing a lot of emotions. Grief is hard for anyone, but losing a spouse can be extra difficult – especially those who had a long happy marriage. After the funeral, memorial and reception, you might think that it’s best to give your loved one some space. However, this might not be the best way to support them.
How to Support your Widowed Friend
Losing a spouse can be devastating – especially for those who haven’t been alone in a very long time. Loneliness can be an incredibly destructive feeling and isolation can make it worse. Of course if your loved one asks for space, be respectful, but also look for signs that they’re struggling. In some cases it might be to their benefit to ignore their request for alone time and insert yourself into their life anyway. They might just thank you for it.
How do you visit or check in on your grieving loved one without annoying them or imposing?
- Bring food! – Many older couples held very traditional domestic roles in their marriage. In many cases you will see a widowed man struggling to cook and clean for himself without his wife. In some cases the wife bought all his clothes and did the laundry. And while he might be too proud to admit it, the husband might not know how to do any of these things on his own – or hasn’t done them in 60 years! Rather than have him rely on microwave meals, bring over a prepared dish with detailed instructions on how to reheat it. You could also offer to cook, or invite him for dinner. This could be for any gender – as many widows don’t feel up for cooking much due to their grief and loneliness.
- Invite them to gatherings, clubs and events – In order to maintain a healthy social life and stave off loneliness, widows need to keep their human connections. Depression can be very isolating, and sometimes you need to intervene to help guide them back to their social circle. Ask them to join your weekly card game, host a weekly lunch or tea with friends, or invite them to try a new hobby with you.
- Call – If you feel like dropping by is inappropriate or invasive, and you’re not sure they’re ready to go out and socialize yet, give them a call. Even if it’s just a short chat, it’s nice to check in and they will know you care.
- Reaffirm that your door is always open – Even if they say no to your invitations or say they don’t need anything, always let them know that you’re there for them when and if they need you. You might get frustrated and feel like they’re pushing you away – but don’t let that feeling consume you. Understand that they’re going through a very difficult time and keep the lines of communication open.