Loneliness significantly affects those who’ve suffered the death of a husband. A certain stigma of loneliness in widowed spouses can cause people to withdraw from them, almost as if widowhood was contagious. These unfair biases against the widowed help exacerbate their feelings of loneliness.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Why Do You Feel So Lonely After Your Husband Dies?
- 12 Tips for Combating Loneliness After Your Husband Dies
Experiencing loneliness after death is due in part to people being uncomfortable talking about death. Many people don’t know what to say, so instead, they stay away in hopes that you’ll get over your loss soon. They give you your space until you return to your old self again, waiting out your grief from a distance.
Why Do You Feel So Lonely After Your Husband Dies?
Several factors contribute to your loneliness after your husband dies. You may expect to lose key friendships as the weeks and months go by, especially if these friends are part of a couple.
An after-effect of your husband’s death is not only the loss of their companionship but the secondary losses that follow. After the traditional grieving period ends, you can expect social invitations to dry up, phone calls to trickle down, and in-person visits going by the wayside.
The following are some ways to keep yourself from falling deeper into the despair of loneliness:
12 Tips for Combating Loneliness After Your Husband Dies
Being proactive through your loss helps you cope with the pain of having lost your husband. At first, you’ll go through the motions mostly on auto-pilot until the days become weeks and weeks turn into months.
After a while, the brain fog that comes with widowhood may slowly begin to lift, and you’ll start to think a bit more clearly. The tips below will help you start formulating a plan of action and with taking measurable steps to combat your loneliness.
1. Tell someone you’re lonely
As a newly widowed spouse, one of the toughest things to do is to admit your weaknesses or vulnerabilities. Widows and widowers of all ages — young widow/ers with children to those in their later years — fear the stigmas associated with widowhood. They try their best to hide what’s going on inside so that they appear to be strong and capable in front of their children and families.
Coping with loneliness is one of the hardest parts of being widowed. Know that you don’t have to suffer it alone. Tell your family, friends, and support group what you’re going through. Most people don’t know how difficult it is to lose a husband until it happens to them. Explain that you’re feeling lonely and ask if they’d like to go out for a cup of coffee or dinner and some conversation.
2. Spread the word
Widowhood is not contagious. Let your friends and family know that having lost your husband is not something they can catch, and it won’t happen to them just by being around you.
Young widowed spouses who’ve lost their husbands who otherwise appeared to be strong and healthy strike fear in others who suddenly realize that it can happen to their husbands as well. Instead of facing their fears, they tend to avoid it altogether and stay away. By being open about your loss, you may be able to salvage a few key relationships.
3. Stay positive
Developing a positive mental attitude toward love, loss, and life can help you to combat the feelings of loneliness that follow the death of your husband. Finding positivity or the proverbial silver lining in the rain cloud will not come easy. On most days, you won’t even want to get out of bed, much less face life head-on.
Take each day as it comes. Some days will undoubtedly be tougher than others, while others may bring you unexpected joys. It’s okay to let yourself live again and to feel joy and happiness. In time, you’ll be able to strike a balance between your grief and loneliness and learning to live again.
One of the first steps in combating loneliness is being around others who share some of the same interests as you. Try your best to pull yourself out of your grief enough to volunteer a weekend or two each month at a local charity or food bank to help those in need.
You can add more meaning to your life through volunteer opportunities at many places, including the following:
- Meals on Wheels
- The Red Cross
- Grief support helplines
- Suicide helplines
5. Take a class
Loneliness is a complicated feeling to shake off when you’re at home alone with no one to talk to. You may be able to withstand your feelings of loneliness for the first few weeks or months, but after that, it begins to take a toll on your psychological well-being, especially if your past friendships have tapered off.
Seek out in-person or virtual learning opportunities where you’ll be in the presence of others in a live classroom or group setting.
6. Join a group
There are countless support groups for surviving spouses that can be found online. Find one that you’re comfortable with and that serves your needs. Consider trying out different groups until you find one that seems to be the perfect fit for you. There’s nothing wrong with joining a group and later leaving it if it isn’t right for you.
Things to look for when considering joining an online or another support group:
- Is it the right fit for you? Think about the age range of the group and the types of losses discussed
- Are group discussions structured and monitored?
- Is there a code of conduct in place?
7. Take a trip
The adventure and exploration that comes with taking a solo trip will force you out of your comfort zone to focus on a new experience. Sign up for a group travel tour aimed at the bereaved traveler.
Other travel suggestions might include:
- Yoga retreat
- Meditation camp
- Singles cruise
- Local exploration
- Overseas travel
8. Go out and visit
Nothing in the rules of widowhood and the bereaved say that you have to stay at home waiting for the phone to ring. Go out and be your own advocate for staving off loneliness. Fuel up your vehicle and make a go of it.
Go out and visit your friends and family, and if they’re not at home or available, go out and visit your city. Get reacquainted with the old familiar places, take a drive out to the cemetery, or explore areas that you’ve been putting off for a later time.
Tip: If you're an older adult, read our guide on how to combat loneliness for seniors.
9. Invite a friend to lunch
It may very well be that your friends are waiting for you to emerge from your period of mourning. Many people don’t know the etiquette rules surrounding the death of a spouse.
Keep tabs with your friends when you’re feeling better. Let them know what you’ve been going through and invite them out to lunch so that you can catch up like old times.
10. Read books on widowhood
Reading and learning are two great ways to figure out what to expect when you’ve lost your husband. Of course, you now know how it feels, but you may now know what to do next.
There are some of the best books on grieving for widows that can be found online in downloadable format for you to read right off your phone, tablet, or eBook reader. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed with information overload, look for books that give a different perspective on widowhood.
Explore themes that may not be all about the grieving process. Consider books on moving forward with your life, reclaiming your identity, and learning to find love again.
11. Seek counseling
Consider online therapy or grief counseling to talk about your grief with a trained professional who can guide you through the stages of grief. They can teach you about what’s expected at each stage and how you can best work your way through them.
Different types of grief affect people in different ways. When you learn about what you’re going through, it makes it easier to anticipate what’s next and how to best handle those situations as they arise.
12. Learn to live life again
Becoming a widow/er at any age is difficult. The pain and sorrow of having lost your husband will linger for the rest of your life. Grief is not something to get over but to get through. Time will lessen the feelings of overwhelming loss and sorrow.
Eventually, you’ll feel ready to step out into the world in your new role as a widowed spouse. But, this label doesn’t have to define who you are in every aspect of your life.
There will come a time for you to put that label away and fit it nicely into its own little box of memories. Yes, you are now a spouse who’s lost their husband. You are no longer part of that married couple that once was. You’ve experienced one of life’s toughest challenges, and you’ve survived.
Reward yourself by learning to live life again in ways that honor the memory of who you once were and who you’ve now become.
Loneliness After Husband’s Death
Being alone and being lonely are two very different things. The pain that comes with experiencing loneliness after the death of your husband will eventually soften. Make room in your life for new experiences, new ideas, new creations, and new relationships to fill the void left behind by your husband’s death.
If you're looking for more resources on dealing with a spouse's death, read our guides on moving forward after losing a spouse and how to refer to your deceased spouse.