Isolation after the death of a loved one

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I had the privilege of facilitating an Alzheimer’s caregiver support group meeting this afternoon. For several years I facilitated my own caregiver support meeting but retired from doing so in 2013. Earlier this year I was the substitute facilitator for this same meeting and was so very impressed with the group of ladies I met then, a few of whom were in the meeting again today.

christmas-party-215501_640One of the gals, Georgina (not her real name) lost her husband to Alzheimer’s in January. She told the group that while her husband was still alive, the two of them were always invited to a Holiday gathering of friends – all married couples – to celebrate the Christmas season. She found out recently that she was not invited to this year’s event.

Quite frankly, she hadn’t yet thought about the Holiday party, thinking the invitation might be forthcoming but certainly wasn’t stressing out about it. Quite innocently, one of her friends mentioned the party in passing, saying, “Looking forward to seeing you at the annual Christmas celebration” not realizing that the host of the party had not included Georgina on this year’s guest list.

The attendees at today’s meeting had these thoughts to say about the situation:

  • perhaps they thought the party would make you feel sad because your husband wouldn’t be able to attend the party with you this year;
  • maybe the party planners figured you simply wouldn’t be interested;
  • or is it possible that they considered you a third wheel that would make them feel uncomfortable since the rest of them still had their spouses with them?

My input to the group: it is unfortunate that they hadn’t invited Georgina so that she could have had the opportunity to decide whether or not she felt the annual event was something in which she was still interested.

I’ve provided this brief article to encourage all of us to do better when we find ourselves pondering similar scenarios after friends and acquaintances lose their significant other.

Right after someone dies, the survivor is inundated with offers of help – invitations to lunch and dinner – and in general, he or she receives more attention than she can probably handle.

Let’s all do better one month later, six months later, or whatever is needed to break the isolation that losing someone forces onto the survivor.

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Isolation after the death of a loved one

    eric said:
    December 5, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    At age 60, I was still grieving the loss of the best job I had ever had, then my wife told me she had stopped loving me 20 years ago and never wanted me to touch her again. Now this may sound corny, but I had always seen my wife and her love as a blessing directly from God. After her rejection, I couldn’t set foot in a church for 3 years without having to spend all my energy to keep from blubbering like a baby. It felt like God had abandoned me as much as my wife had. My stupid son-in-law, told the pastor I stopped going to church because of I was critical of the church. I didn’t know about that for a couple of years but couldn’t have talked to him anyway with out looking like a fool, or making my son-in-law look bad. I ended up losing my “church family”. This aging process seems like one emotionally charged loss after another. “It ain’t for sissies.”
    Finding online blogs where I can talk to people dealing with similar issues has been helpful. There is healing in this process. Keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

      boomer98053 responded:
      December 6, 2015 at 9:48 am

      How unfortunate that your son-in-law decided he could speak on your behalf, and incorrectly at that. I’m sorry for that blunder on his part. If you’re still wanting to be a part of a church family, however, I hope you’ll do so without worrying about how that may make someone else look in the eyes of others.

      What matters is that your needs are met, that you discover what fulfills you and gives you satisfaction in the long run. I hope you’ll discover what that is so that going forward, you’ll be able to celebrate what you have, instead of mourning what you’ve lost, and through no fault of your own.

      Like

    Jill Weatherholt said:
    November 13, 2015 at 3:53 am

    Reading this, my heart broke for Georgina. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Irene.

    Like

      boomer98053 responded:
      November 13, 2015 at 8:24 am

      Her story was a real eye-opener for me, and the other attendees at the meeting. Georgina is such a delightful woman, so full of joy. I told her, “They really missed out not inviting you. You would have been the life of the party!”

      Liked by 1 person

    letstalkaboutfamily said:
    November 12, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks for this post. I found after my divorce suddenly I was excluded from all the couple events we had attended in the past. I am afraid this is what is happening to this widow. She has to the make an effort to find new friends and more single friends. Single women seem to be a threat to many married women!

    Liked by 1 person

      boomer98053 responded:
      November 12, 2015 at 6:47 pm

      You know, Lori, my 1st draft of this article included a reference to divorce and how that alters social dynamics. Thank you for providing your personal touch on this subject.

      Like

    Kathy said:
    November 12, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Great post. There is also another side to this in that the people who live through a loss may isolate themselves. I did this after my mom died. I didn’t want to cry in front of my friends or family. I didn’t want to be a downer around my friends. So I dropped off the face of this earth. It was then I found out who my true friends were. I was so lost but they found me.

    Liked by 1 person

      boomer98053 responded:
      November 12, 2015 at 6:48 pm

      Thank you, Kathy, for bringing forward this aspect of the situation. I can fully understand the tendency to hold back in an effort to not burden others with our troubles. I am so glad that your true friends found you. What a blessing it is to have friends like those.

      Like

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