There are many changes to relationships when you have experienced the death of your partner. The changes can be for the better or the worse and can be with different types of relationships: your family, your in-laws and your friends. Grief is a time of crisis where many people also evaluate their relationships.
Many of us are surprised by “friends”, who completely disappear from our lives as soon as the funeral is over. It can be very hurtful at a time when you already feel weak and vunerable. Maria and I have received many emails and had many conversations about the withdrawal of friendships during this difficult time. So why does it happen?
Firstly death is an uncomfortable subject! For many people who have not experienced death and grief they will find it easier to avoid you and any talk of your deceased partner. I’ve certainly experienced this: a few months after my husband’s death, I saw his friend’s wife at the shopping centre. She pretended not to see me, and ducked into a shop! She later mentioned to a mutual friend that she had seen me but just didn’t know what to say. So to sum that one up, some people will feel uncomfortable and you will feel like a leper.
There may also be a lot of changes with people who were your partner’s friends before you met, such as childhood friends. They will also be grieving for the loss of their mate, and they may find that being around you brings on these feelings, and they may possibly retreat.
As time goes on, you may also find that the invitations from people who you and your partner socialised with will diminish, or maybe cease completely. There can be a few reasons for this. Firstly as previously mentioned others worry about what to say around you, or may be concerned that you will turn into a blubbering mess! Secondly, insecurity: you may be unaware of this but now that your husband is dead you can be viewed as a threat! Yes, there are women who feel threatened by a widow. It is sad but it happens, I can assure you.
In my experience some people will fall away and it is hard to deal with at a time when you are in a mentally fragile state, but they make room for new people to come into your life also.You may be surprised by the people who step up to support you. And there will be those who walk with you on your journey through grief. The ones who will listen to you cry,remember you at milestones and are there for you. These are your true friends,remember to let them know how much you love and appreciate them.