When someone close to you dies your world is shaken.
So many of the things that were certain and that you counted and depended on are gone.
Your sense of who you are, where you were going and even how every day shapes up and feels are all uncertain if not completely destroyed.
If you grieve the loss of a partner, one of the things that you will likely find is that friends, those you were close to and that you counted on, may now respond to you quite differently than they did before your partner died.
Now there can be awkwardness to the relationship that did not exist before.
Elizabeth remembers that she was forever feeling like an add-on.
Wherever I went it was couples. My friends seemed ok with it but I was forever feeling out of place. When Jack was alive we all fit together. Now I feel lost and lonely even when I’m out with others.
Ron’s experience was even more extreme.
Sometimes my friends would act as if I was a stranger. These were friends that Jill and I had associated with for years, but now that she is gone it’s as though I am somehow a stranger.
Sometimes people aren’t comfortable with change. The fact that your central relationship has altered may very well be unsettling to some around you.
Do we invite him the way we used to even though he is now alone?
Do we let her find new friends?
Do we mention the person who has died?
Do we act as if nothing has changed?
While you are trying to have some kind of life without your partner, your friends may have no idea how to treat you or respond to you.
They may feel as though they are walking on eggshells when you’re around.
None of this makes them horrible people; it only means that they aren’t sure what to say and what to do.
There may also be the sense, even though, not spoken of (or in some cases, even known on a conscience level), that you are a reminder of what your friends will one day have to face themselves.
When your partner dies it can be a very time difficult for those who know you.
They want to care for you and support you but may not be sure how.
They want to include you but may feel at a loss how to do that.
They may want to speak of the person who has died but may not know if that’s ok.
They may find your presence difficult because you may remind them of what they too may one day have to face.
When you’re grieving the death of your partner, try speaking openly and honestly with your friends.
Let them know what life is like for you.
Let them see and hear what you feel and what you need.
Risk and share with them and allow them to ask you questions so that they can test their own feelings and learn from you and with you about your feelings.
Let them in.
As with so many other aspects of grief, so much goes wrong because we don’t risk and share what we need and what we are feeling. We try to be “ ok” or we pretend.
People who are grieving often do this because they don’t want their friends or co-workers to see them sad or lost and they often feel embarrassed or like they are “doing something wrong.”
Those who are close to the one who is sad don’t risk and share honestly because they worry that they “won’t say the right thing” or they might make the person sad or cry.
Don’t worry about any of that. Whether you are the one grieving the loss of your partner or a friend who may want to help, just be open and honest and reach out.
This is how important connections are made and the value of your caring and honesty will be worth a fortune in healing.