I am a widow. I used to have a happy home, a child and a life. I lost my only child. And I am an only child. I have no living family. We moved for my husband’s work, and then he passed away. I was without the support that family and community can give. Stranded. I tried to find work, but I’m too young to retire and too old to get hired. I’m regrouping and recreating my life. Suggestions?
I’m sorry to hear about all of the loss you have experienced. Being alone is one of the most difficult experiences we can face as humans. Let me suggest some ways that you can regroup and recreate your new life.
You’re right that you need a sense of community. Since it’s not going to happen through your biological ties to family, it’s something you’re going to have to create on your own. This isn’t going to be something that happens organically. It’s something you’ll have to orchestrate.
Our modern society doesn’t naturally produce a sense of community. Even though we are more connected electronically, we are more disconnected physically and emotionally from one another. When we feel alone, it’s normal to long for others to notice and reach out to us. We want to be included, but it’s scary to take these risks when we feel so vulnerable.
It might be tempting to isolate and watch everyone’s carefully edited lives on social media, believing that your life is so much worse. It’s easy to isolate, numb and avoid the risk of building new relationships.
Because you’ve faced so much loss, the thought of building new connections that could disappear could most certainly cause you to want to stay in bed and hide under the covers.
If you want to recreate your life, it will need to involve relationships. We are not built to be alone. We are social creatures who thrive in community. I hope you’ll make the courageous choice to build relationships again.
There are three places where you can begin building a new community: a job, a church or volunteering. These are places that gather like-minded individuals who share a common purpose. Not only do you need others, but others need you and your life experiences. You can offer a depth of compassion and understanding for loss that most people don’t understand.
You are not too old to work. You are not too damaged to volunteer. There is nothing keeping you from building a new community. You have a place at the table, and all you need to do is show up and let people know you’re available to serve, help and contribute.
These connections don’t need to start out as deep and meaningful. They may start out as superficial and shallow, as most new relationships do. You can still receive tremendous benefit from being around others, even while building meaningful connections is moving slowly. The more you share and contribute, the sooner you’ll start to have more meaningful connections.
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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