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Have you lost friends following bereavement?

(84 Posts)
nanasam Sun 25-Jul-21 12:50:01

Thankfully, DH is still with me but I have a friend and a cousin who lost theirs last year. I usually get in touch with them, which is fine and totally understandable. But I remember one of my mum's friends saying when women lose their husbands the friends seem to disappear and they feel really lonely. Is it because they don't get in touch with others or, like mum's friend said to me she felt other women were worried about her trying to steal their husbands from them!

I'm getting to the time where I'm starting to think of what it might be like and I'm not liking the idea of losing friends, let alone DH.

Has anyone found this is happening to themselves?

Luckygirl Sun 25-Jul-21 13:01:13

It is an odd situation: a world set up for couples. And yes, some friends do vanish like snow in summer. It is very painful.

tanith Sun 25-Jul-21 13:09:00

I lost contact with some people when DH died 3yrs ago but they were more DHs bowling friends than mine but we were friendly and not a peep out of them since his funeral.

Grammaretto Sun 25-Jul-21 13:15:40

Definitely. I was widowed 7 months ago and already I am finding who my true friends are.

I received many letters of condolence at the time but that was it. They weren't followed through with invitations to me!

I am lucky that I have quite a few friends who live alone for various reasons and are not in couples but another thing is I don't feel like going out my myself to cinema or restaurants but I am beginning to find things I do like to to.

I have also begun to invite people to mine or suggest we meet at a place for a walk or cafe such as a gallery or a garden.
I can't pretend it is easy though, especially if you are feeling down. I quite like it if people just call round.

The pandemic has created further problems though I can use it as an excuse when I don't feel like doing something. grin

annsixty Sun 25-Jul-21 13:26:49

Yes I have lost friends but it is more me feeling sad at not being included in things anymore.
Friends we socialised with will ring occasionally but never to go for a coffee etc.
Certainly not a case of being worried about their H’s as I am a very old lady.
I can’t entertain anymore but I don’t know if they would come anymore if I could.

MayBee70 Sun 25-Jul-21 14:27:47

Not due to bereavement. But when my marriage ended I went with a divorced friend of mine to her Christmas do as she didn’t want to go alone. Now, I’ve always chatted to men and woman in social situations, as you do. But, when I went to the loo part way through the meal I said to my friend, who had been on her own for longer than me, ‘am I imagining it but do women not like it when I speak to their husbands’ and she said, ‘no, you’re not’. I found that really sad. I also remember walking round a seaside town one day and feeling that I was the only person there that wasn’t part of a couple sad

Esspee Sun 25-Jul-21 14:31:44

No longer being part of a couple did mean I was dropped from some social occasions we would have been invited to before. No idea why. Their loss.

eazybee Sun 25-Jul-21 14:55:41

Absolutely true, MayBee. I was upset that after my husband left some of my friends left too. I saw some during the day with children, but was never invited to social functions when their husbands were there. Very hurtful. A long term divorcee friend told me it is very common, and you have to make a new set of friends, and a young newly widowed friend discovered the same.
Years later at a Twinning BBQ I was talking to three husbands because I was totally excluded from the female conversation. One was a work colleague, one a school governor and one attended the same art course as me , when somebody yelled out; "look at EB talking to all the men", and the husbands were reclaimed immediately. The same woman, social secretary, told me I wasn't allowed to go to a progressive supper unless I brought a companion, so that was when I resigned from the Association, and I was a founder member.
We are not after women's husbands and we would far rather be part of a mixed group; it is insulting being regarded as some sort of predator.

GrannySomerset Sun 25-Jul-21 15:05:47

And it isn’t only death or divorce which renders a woman alone an apparent threat. Many years ago DH spent a term in Cambridge on a schoolmaster fellowship and I received not a single invitation to a social event from people with whom we normally socialised. I have never forgotten the feeling of exclusion and have always included single friends in our social occasions (now sadly in the past). Anyone would think that parties and other gatherings were only for those entering the Ark - in twos.

MayBee70 Sun 25-Jul-21 15:05:56

Absolutely. I used to live in shared houses that were mainly full of men. I always enjoyed men’s company but have never ever been someone that would flirt with men and people’s marriages are sacrosanct to me. I always just wanted to talk to everybody. Even at work one day my friends son came in and we were chatting about music (we used to go to the same gigs) and a work colleague said ‘look at her, flirting again’. I really don’t understand it.

Whiff Sun 25-Jul-21 16:38:42

Sorry to say it's a common thing. When your husband or wife dies friends and relatives disappear into a puff of smoke. People you have know for years avoid you. Happened to me when my husband died 17 years ago. I had write about it on another thread on this forum.

It's as if death is a disease and it's catching. Also I was 45 when I was widowed. The 63 year old me would have challenged those people.

Grief never dies if that person was your other half of yourself.

What those people who disappeared forget it will happen to them. Only 2 certainties in life we are born and we die .

Judy54 Sun 25-Jul-21 16:48:49

You are all so right it is quite a common occurrence whether you are widowed, divorced or become ill. When Mr J was diagnosed with cancer some friends drifted away, did not even call to see how he was. Unfortunately he also has other complex health problems and is waiting for yet another operation. The only way we can describe it is that we now inhabit a different world to the one that we once shared with those friends who walked away. However we do have other good friends who are very caring and supportive. If people can walk away that easily then they were never meant to stay in our lives. As they say when one door closes another one opens so let's be grateful for those who still care, for new people who have walked into our lives and strangers that have yet to become friends.

Casdon Sun 25-Jul-21 16:58:41

I did lose some ‘couple’ friends when my husband died, I was 49 and still bringing up the children whilst working full time, so I was incredibly busy and didn’t miss them too much after the first year or two.
What I’ve found since is that there are lots more other single people out there than I’d realised when I was part of a couple - and lots of them also want to get out and do things, go on holiday etc. with me, so I’m not lonely. It does take a while, and it’s probably easier when you’re younger widowed because you still have the energy. I’m sure it’s much harder when you’re older, particularly after so much time stuck at home in the last year, but once your friend and cousin can face the world again I think it’s really worth making an effort to get out and do things, because other people are out there in the same boat and want to be friends.

AGAA4 Sun 25-Jul-21 17:23:15

The friends I have now are mostly ones my husband never knew. Some wives are very suspicious of widows as if we can't wait to get our hands on their partners. Nothing was further from the truth in my case.

Flexagon Sun 25-Jul-21 17:27:26

Yes, Casdon. Similar boat. As a youngish widow in my 40s, I know I was deliberately shut out by couples who DH and I had been friends with for years and that it was the wives who were responsible.

Years later, bumping into them, usually at a funeral, some even mumbled an embarrassed apologied but it was too late. I had moved on and made new friends.

Maybee70. Your comment is spot on. At the time, it felt like an insult to my integrity. If they thought I was interested in their husbands, they were wrong. I never have and never would get involved with someone who was already in a relationship. When grieving for a man who has been cut down in the prime of his life, you feel numb not amorous. Shame on women who do this. So much for sisterhood.

I have to work with one very irritating women who whenever she sees me talking to a man yells: Ooooooh, look at her flirting with the men again. It’s embarrassing and puerile and I wish she’d shut up.

Grammaretto Sun 25-Jul-21 19:13:52

It is so sad. It's disgusting behaviour. I hope I have never been one of these jealous women.
My mum was widowed at 39 and she was very aware of this ostracising. Once she came across it in a very blatant way. It was like a scene from Cinderella. She had an invitation to a big event - a ball. and her "friend" asked her to babysit because obviously she wouldn't be going would she! She had no partner.
She didn't go but she didn't babysit either.
eazybee Grr on your behalf.

I'm not seen as a threat but perhaps just not seen at all.

Luckygirl Sun 25-Jul-21 19:28:49

Not seen at all ..... indeed.

But I have just been to a wonderful concert in a beautiful manor house with another woman who was also widowed last year. I have really enjoyed myself. First time I have done such a thing since being widowed - a first step.

Grammaretto Sun 25-Jul-21 20:54:41

Well done Luckygirl. That sounds really lovely. The first of many!

Bellanonna Sun 25-Jul-21 21:18:06

Great, Luckygirl ?

EilaRose Mon 26-Jul-21 02:44:31

When I was widowed at 42 it was no different, so it's been happening for many, many years. Our mutual friends and even our separate work colleague couples slowly drifted away, then I noticed that female-only invitations stopped too.

To me, people who treat other's like that aren't true friends and I just went about doing my own thing which some of them found interesting and asked if they could join me next time.

Well, 'next time' never happened as I decided they deserted me when I needed a friend most of all so I wasn't about to be used, but I made sure I shared some info about my holiday trips or concerts etc.

As has been mentioned, I was asked to babysit too...but I was 'busy'.

Humbertbear Mon 26-Jul-21 07:58:46

A close friend was widowed last year and we have continued to invite her over (probably more than ever) and I continue to see her as before. However I have noted that even very old friends have stopped including her in social events where couples are involved. The wives ask her out for lunch or walks but we are the only people to still ask her out for dinner with other couples. It think bereavement is one of those times when you find out who your real friends are.

Aepgirl Mon 26-Jul-21 10:54:52

Yes, it is definitely a ‘couples world’ (just look at the price of single room supplements in hotels and cruise ships). A woman on her own can be a ‘threat’ to other couples (particularly if the ‘one-ness’ is the result of divorce). I have kept most of my friends, just one or two have dropped off the radar.

polnan Mon 26-Jul-21 10:59:15

oh, well thinking here.. I/we, have never had lots of friends, not socialised by going out as couples... perhaps I am lucky in that..
so I can`t think of any. but then, if it had happened to me, I wouldn`t have called them "friends"

I do sense that some men , I emphasise"some" men seem cautious, but then I have always worked with men, and been at ease with the majority of men.

my small group of church people, throughout the lockups have emailed, I always sign Pauline xx to everyone as do most of us.. one man did "jokingly" tell me that his wife... well I thought ... he fancies himself! and isn`t that the problem? well particularly as I am elderly, and I do mean elderly!! LOL

I do feel quite lonely though, recognising it as a feeling (cos it comes and goes) thinking we are society is not only all set for "couples" but we are brought up, instilled into us that we need another half...

not taught to be self reliant.. I so envy people who always say the like their own company,, what does that mean? but have also adapted to having to be alone

my dh died 20 months or so ago!

Theoddbird Mon 26-Jul-21 11:25:52

I thought it was just me that thought the world was made for couples not single women. I now realize that I have not been imaginging things...

grandtanteJE65 Mon 26-Jul-21 11:28:16

Yes, people are inconsiderate, frightened by the thought of illness, death and bereavement, so they act like this.

It has been going on all my adult life. As a single woman at a later date than my girlfriends, I wasn't invited to their parties which were only for other married couples, but graciously "allowed" to come for afternoon tea.

When they had children, I who knew more about children than they, but didn't have any was excluded on that count too.

At first I thought I had done or said something wrong, but on checking with other women in the same boat found out that this was normal. Society has still no use for single women, or childless couples during the child-raising years.