by Dr. Bill Austin
When we experience a loss such as the end of a relationship, retirement or death, we know life will never be the same. We may even wonder if we will ever be happy again.
Death of any kind sets off a series of other deaths. The death has brought a death to how we will experience such important life events as holidays, daily routines, rituals and family gatherings.
We not only have lost our loved one, but we have lost the way we experience these important days. Our grief is not only for the one we have lost, but also for the losses the death has caused in our lives.
One of the most disturbing deaths or changes has to do with our friends. If we were married, or in a significant relationship, and we lost our partner, we may see a change in the friends we have. Before the loss, most of our friends were married. Some time after the death of the relationship, we may discover that most of our friends are single.
There are probably several reasons. Many of our married friends may feel either threatened or do not know what to do with a single person.
One of the reasons for the change may be with us and how we are feeling about being single. We can feel lonely being the single person around couples, so we avoid the interaction. It may seem that we no longer fit because our interests are different as well as our lifestyle. A difficult change is moving from a partnership to living life alone.
Being alone impacts everyday living such as fixing dinners or cleaning the house. These rituals may have lost their purpose and meaning. We may even dread evenings and weekends.
Being alone can make it difficult going to places that we enjoyed as a couple. Now, when we walk into places such as restaurants, church, movies, etc., we may feel conspicuously alone. Everyone else is with someone and it is obvious we are not. When we walk into a place by ourselves, we may feel that we stand out, so we hurry to sit down.
If our partner was an extrovert and we are an introvert, we may have depended upon him or her to initiate conversation in a group. We kind of stayed in the background. Now we are trying to mingle in a group of people without the one who could "work the crowd." This makes it more difficult going out to various social gatherings. We may even think no one is interested in talking to us.
Many of us find it extremely difficult going home at night and walking into a dark and quiet home. I like what AARP Widows Support Group recommends: leave a light on and a radio playing so the house is more inviting.
Next month, we will highlight some specific ways to cope with loss.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700