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Abandoned By Friends After Death Of A Partner 

Published: August 26, 2021 | Last Updated: August 26, 2021 By | 2 Replies Continue Reading
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After the death of a partner, a man says his friends have scattered to the wind. He wonders how to respond.

QUESTION

When my wife passed away last year, I was a bit surprised at some friends who suddenly dropped off the radar after her death and seemed to have lost all interest in me.

I’m not sure why this happened. Is there anything I can do about it? I’m lonely and really could use some of those supports now.

Henry

ANSWER

Hi Henry,

I’m so sorry to hear of your wife’s passing. The death of a partner is hard but especially during a pandemic when even grieving rituals are disrupted. 

Even under ordinary circumstances, deaths tend to make people feel uncomfortable. People aren’t quite sure what to say, or how and when to express themselves to the bereaved. In fact, they may feel so awkward that they disappoint us and wind up saying (and /or doing) nothing.

In the past, many other readers have written about similar experiences. They talk about how their friends seemed to have abandoned them after the death of a partner or spouse. The reasons can be varied:

  • In some cases, the friends thought of the husband and wife as “couple friends” with whom they socialized in a pair and considered the death the end of that.
  • A spouse (in your case, another husband) may see the surviving partner as a threat to his relationship with his wife (even without any logical reason for feeling that way).
  • Also, your other friends may be struggling with their own grief over the loss of your wife and their friend.

If these friendships were meaningful to you and you miss them, don’t stand on ceremony. Either reach out to them individually or as couples and tell them how much their friendship has meant to you over the years. Suggest a get-together.

If you feel hurt or don’t have the inclination to resurrect these relationships, try to develop new friendships. Often socializing falls to women in many relationships and you might not be used to being an initiator. 

For some singles, reaching out to a couple can be daunting. Are there any single friends you already know whose companionship appeals to you? Alternatively, or in addition, maybe you want to start out slowly as you venture out as a single person; volunteering is always a nice and non-threatening way to put yourself in contact with other people who share your values.

Again, I know this is a huge loss that is tough to get over. Getting back to socializing with friends can take some time. I hope this helps a little.

Best, Irene 

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Category: Death, Losing friends

Comments (2)

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  1. loyal says:

    I feel that you deserve many more replies! Frankly, it is awful for “friends” to distance themselves when you need them more than ever. Irene was tactful re the “reasons” but there are no reasons. I would join a church: go to different churches to find those with which you are most comfortable. And, I, too wear a mask everyplace: it is possible to still meet people.

  2. Liz Blu says:

    Yes, I, too, have experienced my friends disappearing after my husband died over a year ago. Of course covid and its mutations have not helped matters at all. I don’t go out without a mask, so that limits the opportunity to make new friends at the senior center or anywhere else. Once a week I see my grief counselor, but that’s it. Zoom calls are dreary. I miss my best friend.

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