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Four years ago, Barbra Cook, now 62, lost her husband of 36 years after his 10-year-battle with early onset Alzheimer’s.“Several of our couples’ friends drifted away during Morris’ illness,” she says, “but I was determined to both sustain and build a life for myself after he died.” During his illness, she continued dancing, a lifelong passion she and Morris never shared. For others, the journey may start a year or more after the loss.For the first year after her husband Mort died of cancer, Mary Childs, now 68, looked mainly to her two sisters and her quilting friends for comfort and a social connection.”I couldn’t do much more than that,” says the Lakewood, CO, retired nurse.”On the one occasion that I attended a couples’ function with friends from our past, I was totally uncomfortable.” Indeed, many people who lose a spouse often feel like when it comes to socializing, it’s a couples’ world.
Be prepared to hear any answer he might have and accept with grace and understanding if it’s not the answer you hoped for.“Neither of us wants to live together or get married, but it’s great having male companionship again.”Lots of people who lose their husband or wife feel like it’s easier to be alone and not deal with the anxiety and other pressures associated with being social. Our well-being is based largely on interactions with others.(The amount and kind of interaction varies, but the need is inherent.) To avoid connections is to invite depression.D., a psychologist at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology.This article was co-authored by Paul Chernyak, LPC.