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Socialising alone for the first time

During lockdown we shared a blog about ways to reach out to newly bereaved people who were possibly feeling isolated. Now times are changing, social events are starting up again, weddings and other celebrations are starting to go ahead and many bereaved people are now having to negotiate social events by themselves.

People we support who are dealing with the death of their partner have often been together as a couple for many years. We’ve heard of people celebrating their 70th wedding anniversaries. It’s a huge amount of time to suddenly start attending even small family gatherings alone, rather than with a partner. Of course, even people who have been with partners for a shorter amount of time still find a new social life alone can be daunting.

Most people find that families will make sure you are supported during this time, when attending a family get together. When going out with friends, it might feel harder.

Even people who were fairly gregarious before their bereavement, find going out alone is tricky. You might not want to go somewhere you particularly enjoyed as a couple although, on the other hand, you might find it comforting. Everyone is different.

It’s sensible to not put too much pressure on yourself and perhaps drive yourself, if you do drive, so you feel you’ve got the option to leave a little early if it becomes overwhelming. Alternatively, see if a friend is available to go with you for support, so you don’t feel you’re walking into a social situation alone.

On the Sue Ryder support forum, a lady called Debbie says: “I lost my husband is nine months ago and I can still only go out with one friend at a time. I hate being in a room full of people, so make sure I only go to places where I know it will be quiet; I have found since losing my husband that I needed the peace and quiet. I have only just begun to except the everyday noise and being around a few people. I haven’t even been to a shopping centre, as that would be too much. My advice is to take your time, so you can grieve properly.”

Many of our families have gained huge support by joining the Tester & Jones Bereavement Group. We tend to invite newly-bereaved folk to our smaller Bereavement Group first, where we keep numbers smaller and you’ll see people who are in a similar position. Since this group has started up again after lockdown, 12 people have taken up our invitation to come along.

Many members find it’s a chance to be honest about how they are feeling, as they worry they might be burdening other family members or close friends, who are also grieving the loss of that loved one.

After a little while, there’s an option to join the main Bereavement Group, which has been a great source of comfort, friendship and support to people over the past 12 years. For many members it’s the chance to chat to somebody in the ‘same boat’ and lots organise other get-togethers and trips, maybe to the cinema or a local garden, outside of the Bereavement Group meetings.

As one member said recently: “New people are always welcomed and immediately accepted into the fold. I look forward to our meetings and thoroughly enjoy them. It is all about helping each other to come to terms with our new lives, our different selves and taking forward steps."

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