4 Ways to Make New Friends When You’re Widowed

Assuming you’re a widow who wants to make friends (which is a big assumption, as many widows just don’t have the energy or motivation to start new friendships), how do you meet people? Some widows say the most difficult part of life after a husband dies is meeting new friends. These tips are inspired by a reader who wants to make friends while grieving and transitioning into widowhood. The problem? She doesn’t know how.

“My husband died six months ago and I have never been single,” says Trish on Starting Over in Your 60s After Your Husband Dies. “I am 62 and I have no friends. My kids have their own lives and this is completely new to me. My husband was my life. I know one day I will have friends but I don’t know where to start. I tried a support group but I don’t like the group. I want to get to know people and meet new friends, but I don’t know how.”

I’m sorry for your loss. My father-in-law died last month; I had no idea how difficult it is to say goodbye to a husband and father. You never get over losing a member of the family, do you? I can’t imagine what it’s like to grieve the death of a husband you’ve been married to for over 50 or 60 years…but I have glimpsed the depths of pain, and it is very sad.

Here’s a memorial I found in my local newspaper’s obituary yesterday:

The flesh of a peach, a dog or a person is all made from nature. Anything that is born from nature must return to nature. But we never really die, within all of us is a spirit. That spirit is what makes us want to give up each morning and sing with the birds. That part of us lives forever. Your husband had that spirit, too. His body isn’t here anymore for you to see, to touch and hold. He is now inside of you, where you can hold him in your thoughts, see him in your dreams, and touch him with your heart.

May your husband rest in peace.

4 Tips for Widows Who Want to Meet New People

The following tips for widows may seem insignificant, but little things make a huge difference. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that it takes time to meet friends you actually connect with. For every 10 people I meet, I only want to spend time with one or two. We don’t connect with everyone, like my reader learned by going to a widow support group.

1. Adopt a dog

Are you a dog person or a cat person? If you have a dog that you take on daily walks, you already know that dogs are natural ice breakers and even friendship builders. A research study from the University of Australia showed that people with dogs are emotionally, physically, and socially healthier. Consider adopting a widow-friendly dog (of course, this depends on how old, active, and tolerant the widow is!). I have the perfect dog for a widow: my little white Bichon Fraise is a seven pounds and needs one 15 minute walk a day. All she wants to do is snuggle and cuddle, and she is the cutest little dog ever.

If you already own a dog, read Do Dogs Grieve? How to Help Your Dog Adjust After Loss. You may be surprised to learn how an owner’s death affects a dog.

2. Give something away

You have more time, energy, and resources than you realize. Maybe it’s too soon to clean out your husband’s closet or garage, but you might consider decluttering your own possessions. Decluttering can help you grieve your husband’s death and ease the healing process. Clearing out those crowded dusty old closets and drawers – not to mention the basement and attic! – will take energy and motivation. The payoff? You’ll find yourself feeling free-er and lighter with every box or bag of stuff you give or throw away.

If decluttering is out of the question, consider donating your time. Volunteering in the right capacity will help you make new friends as a widow. If you find the right volunteer role – one that challenges and energizes you – you’ll feel more connected and less isolated. You’ll meet likeminded people. You might even meet a kindred spirit! I started volunteering as a Big Sister almost 10 years ago; my Little Sister and I still meet every two or three weeks. Being a Big Sister hasn’t helped me make new friends because it’s just her and me on our visits. But when I worked at the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Association in Calgary I facilitated the Big Grandparents program. The seniors (55+) would visit at the same time at a nearby elementary school. They’d play games, bake cookies, etc with their Littles. Many of the Big Grandparent mentors were widows and widowers; they formed great friendships over the school year.

3. Travel

You could look into local book clubs, bridge meetups, garden tours, seniors’ yoga classes, walking groups, and cooking classes. Those are traditional ways for widows to meet new people and make friends after a husband’s death. But what about reaching out of your comfort zone? You may argue that it’s too late to make your RV retirement dreams come true … but what if it’s not? You may also believe it’s impossible to meet new friends when you’re traveling as a solo widow … but what if you’re wrong?

If you’re a travel nut, start making vacation plans. Search the internet for “travel groups for widows” or “MeetUp groups for widows in _______” (add your location).

It’s hard to meet new people and make friends even when you aren’t a widow grieving your husband’s death. I know; I’ve been struggling to meet kindred spirits and build true friendships. I’m almost ready to give up, to be honest. I’m now happier alone than with people. But since all the research points to social connections as the key to emotional health and physical longevity, we should at least try to find friends.

As Helen Keller said, “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”

4 Ways to Start New Friendships After Your Husband’s Death
Making New Friends After Your Husband Dies

4. Consider a group like the Widow Connection

How are you at making friends online? I’m terrible at it. If you enjoy being online (and you found me, so you’re doing something right!), search for widow friendship groups. Not only did I find a group called the Widow Connection, I even found advice about what to say – and what not to say – to a woman whose husband died.

If your friends and family say all the wrong things, send them these tips. If you disagree with any of them, share your thoughts in the comments section below! I’d love to hear from you.

7 ways to help a widow cope with her husband’s death:

1.  Try to stay connected. There is already a huge hole in our universe. Do not assume widows need ‘space’ to grieve.

2.  Please do say you are sorry for our loss.  We would rather you tell us you do not know what to say than tell us your story of loosing your friend or even close relative  We may be able to listen to your story later, but not now. Do not tell us you understand.

3.  Do call and ask specifically, “Can we go for a walk together? May I run errands for you?  Meet you for coffee?  Do not say, “Call me if you need anything.”

4.  Do refer to our husband’s acts or words—serious or humorous. We are so comforted by knowing our husband has not been forgotten. Do not leave our husbands out of the conversation.

5.  Invite widows to anything. We may decline but will appreciate being asked.  Do not assume we no longer want to participate in couples events.

6.   Do accept that widows are where we are.  Marriages are brief, long, healthy, dysfunctional, intense, remote.  Death comes suddenly or in tiny increments over years. Again our experiences are so different, as are we.  So is our journey through grief. Do not assume we go through the outlined grief process ‘by the book.’

7.   Walk the talk.  Do not make ‘conversation only’ offers. “We’ll call you and we’ll go out to dinner.”—and then not follow up.  Yes, we are sensitive in our grieving, but we’d rather hear you say, “I’ve been thinking of you.” than make a ‘conversation only’ offer.

What do you think? You’re welcome to share your comments – big or little – below. Here’s something to write about: Who was your best friend growing up? Did you marry your best friend, or was he “just” your life partner and companion?

And here’s a question I’ve never asked a widow before: What don’t you miss about life when your husband was alive?

If you have no energy or motivation to meet new people or make friends, read Getting Through the Day When You’re a Grieving Widow.

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30 thoughts on “4 Ways to Make New Friends When You’re Widowed”

  1. These tips are right on! The first holidays after the death of a loved one are the hardest, and it’s important to be able to share your emotions and simply allow yourself to feel melancholy. It’s part of “the process” and you must do whatever you can do to help yourself move forward. We all deal with grief in our own way, so if your formula doesn’t match that of someone else, don’t worry about it.
    – Karen

  2. I appreciate your “words of wisdom”, which I do know they are…my husband’s Birthday would’ve been the 29th of this month, on TOP of the Holidays, but I still cry every day, many times a day, and I still feel the loss TREMENDOUSLY, and do NOT want to be here. My room-mate will be gone so I can mourn ALONE. Though I don’t feel “safe” yet, I can’t seem to find anything free around me, and I don’t have a vehicle. Maybe I will join my sweet Rick, my “Romeo”, because of natural causes…you never know, and I can only hope. I thank you for your e-mail; it meant a lot to me. If you can, continue to write to me…the “Net” is my only form of really talking to anyone, and you seem so nice. Thanks again, and actually I hope NOT to be here again, but life sucks, and I will probably be here no matter what anyhow.
    Love,
    Rochelle

  3. That’s very true, friends and families disappear on your doorstep. I don’t think there’s anyone lonely as a widow on this earth.

  4. I am writing this in response to all of your who have written about your experiences and as it seems we all have so many similarities. Its amazing how our so called friends and family who were there in the good times and showed as if they cared when we lost our soulmate, have now gone….think we should ‘get over it’ ….’move on’….those words are all we hear and I am sure I speak for us all to say how ‘shameful’ it is. I have been a widow for just over 8 years….a total shock as I was in UK ahead of my husband for our Son’s wedding….a happy occassion, when I got a call on my mobile from Rwanda, where my husband and I were living at the time, due to his work….he was 59 ex military and fit…but died of a massive heart attack…my world like all of yours caved in ….life stopped and there was no respect of time as it continued when it should have stopped too. I was 53 and we were soulmates for 37 years….my only love…my two children had to go to Rwanda to being his body back as I was unable to cope…we buried him 3 weeks later and zi had to go through my Son’s wedding 5 weeks later….its all a fog…since then I have had one ailment after another….now 62 and I died the day my husband died….I know I truly know and how amazing that we all feel this emptiness and no feeling to ‘ live’ like a ‘normal’ person. If we had the love from those who once were around us when times were good, then I am sure we would be feeling as though life could be bearable…but we are alone and they are couples….I am so sorry for all of us….maybe there is a special place for widows and widowers after death, because this is no life! Kx

  5. I am 49 years old and my husband died on Christmas Day 2019.its been 6 weeks and I cant function. I am completely devastated and all alone. I became disabled last year 2018. And was pretty well dependent upon him for errands and chores. Now he’s gone and I see nothing getting done. He was my best friend. My soulmate and my partner. I am no contact with my mother due to her narcissism. And I have no other family. Not one person that my husband knew or worked with has contacted me since he died to check on me. Not one. Which leaves me even more disheartened? Don’t want to be alive anymore. I just don’t.

    1. Hi Amelia,
      Let me just start by saying that I lost my wife, best friend, and love of my life back in September at the age of 59 after knowing her and being married for almost 40 years. So I have a pretty good idea of what you are going thru…first of all, know that the level of grief you are experiencing can be very extreme right now, as this is a very recent death. I personally was very devastated and had trouble with normal functioning for at least 3 to 4 months, but I moderately and very slowly started to recover day to day. The disappointment and disheartening feeling that people don t keep in touch and care, is unfortuneately very very common in this society. That hurts very very bad, I know that much. People can be ignorant many times, and sometimes they are just uncomfortable with what to say so they avoid you or want to give you some time to heal up. Not what you need or want, but it s what they do. What I did was pick up the phone and call neighbors, family and friends. Phone talk can help if you can t get around too well. I joined a Griefshare group, there are about 15 people going thru similar losses, and you can talk things out and not be so isolated. Even though it may seem like you are alone, I assure you there are literally thousands if not millions of people going thru this type of loss right now all over the country. Feel free to keep in touch, I care and I assure you, every widow or widower on this earth cares about you, because we have all walked in your shoes, and in my case, I m walking in them right now with you

  6. Everything am reading is geared for women who lost there husbands. But does not even mention when a man loses his wife can you enlighten me more on this matter am so want to get out and meet new friends..

    1. Len,I’m sure Men need all the advice as us women when we lose our spouses. Hopefully all these suggestions can be of use to you also and other men. I think each individual deals with it in their own way especially when they’re taking out of your life unexpectedly it’s been three years for me and I’m still having to work at it my best to you…

  7. Thank you for your advise, I am still sick, crying daily we moved to a bad
    place. Surrounded by unmarried & mean Click who tried to run us out of this HOA a
    few months after hubby purchased this house. He was a fine retired 22 yr. veteran usaf pilot. I was his 4th and best wife 14 yrs.& Married 8 yrs. He made a
    good retirement. He suicided in this home, I’m still here after moving 5 times & always paid the mortgage than came back to our home. I have 0 support here. The
    mean neighbors are trying to run me out. They never said” I’m sorry for your loss”,
    “Just get out of here! go away”, But sure nice to me when hubby was alive, calling the police on him and patting his back, I suffer so much
    because we moved to this terrible street. I blame myself as well because he was sick of moving all over AZ 4 homes in 4 yrs all to please my father. It made my husband more depressed in AZ with bipolar illness and brain tumors, old head injury, I always cared for him with best doctors, counseling. We didn’t know AZ has a shortage of MD’s, counselors, psychiatrists. We moved to a isolated subdivision (poor man’s country club)we never played golf or fit in. for the weather and to escape my dad, we wasted all our money on purchasing 3 homes and rented which he hated. I begged him not to buy another 3rd home the death home. But we were so in a hurry all the time in AZ. I am sorry we ever moved here I read AZ has the highest sucide rate.
    I don’t care much about myself anymore and broke down many times. Still alone here
    and ripped off as a widow, almost raped, almost assaulted by 2 men but I hired only one, but got away, my cell phone broke when I tried to call 911, the mean neighnor across from our house would not open his door to help me. Yet he knocked on my door to talk trash about an elderly male friend’s vehicle, ect. I am in danger living here and have a large elder dog my husband loves in spirit, my job in life is to care for our dog. I have no family left, husband’s family didn’t care about his death including 2 mentally ill adult kids from different marriages.
    Husband is lovely and became sick after the 22 yrs in service. He never claimed VA
    benefits for his brain tumors, and hearing loss.
    I cry and miss him, His house is a Shrine, yet I can’t sell it or make decisions to move out and leave the state. I feel no where to go afraid to drive and have panic attacks, feel trapped in this snake pit, I am afraid in the mean county of AZ. I heard it’s the poorest and worst place for medical care. I am slowly dying
    and women hate me for no reason. I look younger and now letting the hair gray and quit exercising & riding my bike, a women here tried to run me down in here car
    and put bad thing on the intranet. The whole subdivision hates me because I didn’t move out and let his house go into foreclosure. I am stigmatized and gaslighted.
    Thank you so much, I could go on and on. I just need a friend that all. No good friends in AZ for me.
    Sincerely
    Ann

  8. I m a man that happened upon this website while trying to answer the question about how to restart a new life at age 60 without the love of your life. I lost my wife of 34 years about 6 weeks ago. Have been reading over the comments, and I’ll tell you ladies, it s not much different for a man losing his wife, it feels about the same, and I could have written any comment on this website. I personally view the social side of things the biggest challenge, as we had many many couple friends, and now those seem awkward and many will likely fade away. It s pretty common to have people go back to their normal lives and “forget” about the Widows/widowers, so that is a common situation/feelings I tell people that I loved my wife and my life, and now I m just starting a new life, and its only just beginning. Its hard for me to imagine how the 2nd life could be more wonderful than my first life, but that is going to be the goal. My only other thought is to remind oneself each and everyday that God loves US, and make sure that everyday that You love You.

    1. Thank you for sharing. My husband died 10/2/2018 on his birthday. He kissed me goodbye and went to work. He never came home, he passed away at work. God was gentle and took him painlessly and quickly. 2019 is almost complete, 2020 will bring me many new ways of life.

  9. My husband died of a heart attack at 59 in our bed while we were talking. He was my best friend. After he died all our friends were no more. I had one of his friend’s call me 2 weeks after he died and told me if I was still sad that I needed to speak to a Phycologist. Another came over the night he died and asked when I was going to date again. Anyway I have no friends. I was always a people person and now I am a loner I guess. Not my choice.

  10. I understand totally Rebecca…. I totally do … I was 53 when my husband died …. I am 59 now …. a part of me died when he did… I felt the same as you and still today I have moments where life is unbearable … it’s strange as we don’t want to live either but we do …. somehow we just die just because we want to …. we are here and somehow we survive and the pain slowly slowly eases but can come back in huge waves…. it’s good to make new friends… if you can . Kim

  11. all i want is my husband new friends would not be as deep. i want him and i will die of grief. i hate being without him. i have a few friends 3 sweet cats and a broken heart. i do not think i can go on without him. we had friends together. i love him. i want to stay in the past. it was a wonderful dream and better than anything. this present reality is a night mare. i will die of grief i think. i do not want to be here without him. my soul mate my love my husband my best friend my partner in everything my favorite person. no. nothing no one else. lonely and can’t start over in my 60’s my heart hurts i am dying of grief.i love and miss him and need to keep his memory alive. i am writing about him and organizing his things. thus i live with him and my whole life is in the past and sorrowful. i want hm i weep for him i grieve him i love him. 2 years weeping. no end in sight til death. all is sad

    1. I am the same as you. I’m 54. He and I were both 47 when he died unexpectedly. I just want to be with him. Kids are grown. No grandkids. No friends anymore. I’m just done. I want my husband back. I want my life back.

    2. It’s true Rebecca , I also still grieve so much and just can’t see how I am alive with so much grief …. in fact I am unwell and that’s due to so much grief ….. I can believe how someone can die from grief. My friends think I should have gotten over my husbands death by now !!! I was 53 when he died and will be 60 in a couple of weeks …. how have I survived ? Friends seem to think you can just forget the love of your life ….. it’s not true …. we can’t and it’s just existing now .

  12. Dear Susan,

    I am so sorry for your loss. Grieving the death of your husband is a heartbreaking experience – and when you feel guilty about things you said and did in the past, it’s harder to greater loss.

    I wish I had the right words to help you heal and move on, but I don’t have the magic formula. And, part of me thinks that we never really move on after her husband dies. There is always a piece of us stuck the past, back where we were when we were married and her husband’s were alive.

    Reading books has always been my number one way to cope with loss, pain, and grief. Here’s a book that requires a lot of thinking and writing – and it can help you work through the grief and guilt you feel after your husband’s death.

    The Grief Recovery Handbook: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses including Health, Career, and Faith
    https://amzn.to/2iF4dty

    I also encourage you to consider joining a grief support group for widows network of some type. I believe that your feelings of guilt are normal. Sometimes my husband will leave for the day and I think that if something happened to him and he died, I feel terrible for how we parted. We don’t have perfect marriages or relationships, which means there are almost always words left unsaid or words we regret saying.

    My prayer is that you forgive yourself for whatever you are struggling with. May you find peace and healing, wisdom and joy. May you learn how to let go of the painful moments in the past and hold onto the little bit of joy, freedom, and beauty that exists in this moment. And made the peace that surpasses all understanding find its way into your heart and soul.

    Is there anything you can do today to take a step toward healing from the grief you feel?

  13. I was widowed on December 15th 2016 and I am heartbroken. I was married 45 years, since I was 18. I have never known any other life. I did everything with my husband. We had a very close affectionate marriage. We were also quite volatile. In rows I said the most terrible things. He never said anything bad to me. The guilt is unbearable. I am screaming for him I miss him so. I cannot bear it knowing I can never again see him, talk to him,hold him. How will I ever come to terms with losing him

    1. Dear Susan, Our stories and our timeline is nearly the same. Dec. 19 2015 married at 19. I am awake at 2 am because of the emptiness. I just looked up “how to make friends as a widow”. I am lonely for a conversation, a hug, familiarity, being loved and special to someone. All gone. I gathered my courage to join a local choir. It was too much for me. I quit today after 2 meetings. I have been happy a stay at home all my married life. We moved all over the country. 30 moves. Four grown kids no grandkids. Not a dog person. Going to a new church is hellishly lonely. I have done it so many times and it is never pretty. I just want one friend to walk with. Maybe laugh and talk. Go out to lunch. Someone to care about that cares back. Maybe we need to start a program called “Befriend a Widow”. Rent a friend. Ha! Everyone volunteers to care for stray dogs. Why not a human?

      1. Dear Nancy,
        I lost my dad on July 26, 2017. He and my mom were to be married 67 years on 11/11. She is lost without him needless to say. She is 87 years old..does not drive, has back problems… loves to be outside gardening but due to back it makes it difficult. All she knew was gardening, cooking and going to the bank and shopping weekly with my dad. He was 91 but still drove quite well. His death was sudden. Stroke then heart attack. It has been tough on everyone. I suggest various things for her to try to get involved in but she is not ready for change. All I can do is suggest and be patient with her. I have been scanning the internet for groups such as you suggested..”Befriend a Widow” with no success. I believe something like that would be fabulous. Learning to skype with one another and making friends would be phenomenal. I am not sure how to pull something like that together. I am not computer savvy. But oh what a wonderful tool for all the widows should they choose to want to participate in it.

  14. Hello,
    I will be widowed 4 years in February. My husband died in my arms one day before his 63rd birthday. We had no children. I am now 67 years old & retired. I have sisters but they all live in a different state & have children. I thought I had found a friend after he died but finally opened my eyes to her manipulations; thus, I let her go. There are next to no volunteer opportunities where I live and although I love my cats, I don’t feel I could volunteer in an animal shelter otherwise they’d all wind up in my home and seven is enough for me. I loved my husband very much but now that, that “so called friend” is no longer with me, I feel myself slipping into an abyss of no return. Being called “The CatLady” sounds wonderful, but not all the time. I am extremely upbeat & spiritual though I no longer go to any Church. I write poetry & sometimes short stories & do have many friends though I’d love to find out what others would tell me about my situation. Peaceful New Year to all.

    1. I am so grateful for the comments. My husband and I were together for 23 years before he died a horrible, prolonged death, of which I was the only one privy to the horror. He was very private, and all his care fell on me. When he finally died, I frequented the places we both went to for years as a couple to hang out with all our friends. The reaction was many single guys hit on me, people took advantage of me, and now, after over a year and half of his passing, I am isolated in terms of ‘friends’, but my work life is my life line. I love what I do and everyone with whom I interact. But thirty years living here and all those people I called my friends, not one made more than that off-hand – I’m here if you need me’. How does one find ‘friends’ under those circumstances?

      1. Hi Lorraine,
        I completely know where you are coming from. My husband died nearly two years ago and he was a very private person as well, he wanted to pass away at home which he did. We were together for 40 years and had no children. I have a stepson, and our so called friends have suddenly disappeared and I hardly hear from any of them or see anyone and that includes some of my family. I still work and that is the only thing that is also keeping me going. I have realised that I need to make “new friends” who have the same interests as I do and am finding it very difficult at my age of 68. I do not want to enter into any relationship apart from that of friendship. I have not been able to find a site just for that. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  15. I have been a widow for the past 12 months, I am 57, my husband died of cancer. I don’t have friends, I am struggling on my own and I am so lonely. Though I go to work, the reality hits every evening of my my life.

    1. I came across this website this morning by chance! I am a widow of 6 years on 27 May! I was 52 when my husband died, he was 59 and he would have had the most awful time knowing, just knowing he was having a heart attack…I wasn’t with him, this is what hurts me so much. We were living in Rwanda, he was working and happy in his work for the first time in years. I had come back to UK for our sons wedding, we were so proud and our lives were just getting better and better….but he blinked at the wrong time, he never thought it wpuld happen!! I had a phone call from a man I didnt know, I was on my own in my daughters flat while she was at work..lthat phone call, someone saying something to me I didn’t understand….my husband was dead..the phone went dead I fell to the ground. I am here today 6 years on and find it all so sureal…my life changed in an instance, so many friends and family were as shocked as me, so comforting….but now, their view is ‘get on with your life’…you see, they are in their lives its ok and they think its simple…little do they know how ‘we’ actually feel and how grief cuts you up beyond repair …I am so broken
      How did I bring my husbands body back to UK, bury my husband and go to my sons wedding 5 weeks later….its all a dream…I am ‘up there, looking down on my life…I am the director and the actress…I dont know this movie’….my poor children never got to say goodbye to him. We all have a story and all each and everyone of us will miss our husbands or wives forever, the pain eases a little but comes back and hits you when you least exoect it.

  16. Meeting new friends is the answer for some widows and widowers, but not others. The key is finding what works for YOU to fight the loneliness and sadness of losing your spouse.

    The other “trick” is not living in the past. You loved your husband so much, and now he’s gone. Accepting and letting the past go may be one of the healthiest ways to move on and be happy again.

    But there will always be that shadow of loss and grief, I think.

    What is the worst part of widowhood for you? How are you getting through it?

  17. hi i have been widowed for 101 days. my husband was my best friend and the love of my life and his death was sudden and i am deeply bereaved. 101 days without steve after 35.5 years together. nice to find your blog.not sure if it will help me. we have 4 cats, no kids. was planning on retiring together and doing the so many things we want and need to do. had my fill of volunteerism. i am 64; he was 67. thought we had another 20 yrs. had no B plan. lost in the universe. glad to find this and hope to be checking in. thanks.

  18. Thanks for your insight, John. Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, and I imagine it will be difficult for many widows and widowers. A widows banquet is a great idea – and would be a good for for widows to make new friends, too.

  19. Valentine’s Day is one of the hardest day, following the loss of a spouse. Since the widow no longer is anyone’s sweetheart it is made clear to her on this date. While one church actually asked the widows in the church to come serve the ones who had a Valentine, thankfully some churches are now having a widows banquet on Valentine’s Day.