The New Year is officially in full swing and although there’s nothing written that says this is the only time for making changes, it is a good focal point for reappraising your successes and failures of the past year. If there have been success stories during the last twelve months, then you should congratulate yourself. Any failures? Forget them, and move on.
New Year’s resolutions are usually associated with quitting smoking, losing weight or cutting down on alcohol, etc., but while all of these are worthy causes, they can be hugely difficult to achieve. I’m a great believer in taking things slowly – or in small steps, if you like, and have always had more success when I do things this way. Factors like smoking or being overweight are not to be ignored, of course, but listing some things that are important, but perhaps easier to control, will give you a head start. This approach will be paving the way for greater achievements as you go along.
Aspiring to make small changes that will improve your way of life can be implemented in many ways: for example, walking to the next bus stop to enhance fitness, cutting out at least one of the bad things you know you shouldn’t eat or introducing a smile into the process when you thank someone. Also, making a daily ‘to do’ list and sticking to it can be very productive and it’s always great ‘ticking things off’.
Now is also a good time to look at your social life and ask yourself if there is room for improvement? Deciding to try something completely different is a good way to meet new people and to discover hidden qualities and talents.
Having family and good friends in our lives is important and the start of a new year is the ideal time to seek out those we haven’t seen for a long while. Conversely, if there are people in your life who drag you down or leave you feeling unexceptional, then maybe another resolution is to gently phase them out.
As a widowed single reflecting upon the holiday season, you may have had well-meaning friends or family asking if you have dated anyone yet. This is always an awkward question – especially if you haven’t – but you shouldn’t feel pressured. However, if you have had the occasional moment when the thought of sharing your life again seems tempting, you might want to explore the possibility of meeting someone online.
Joining a dating website is easier than you might think and gives you the opportunity to get to know other singles while maintaining an element of privacy. Once you have completed your profile, the next step is up to you. Look at the profiles of your fellow singles and if anyone sounds interesting, send them a message.
Be excited; taking this step could change the rest of your life! There are no hard and fast rules about how long you take to make a connection, if at all, and remember, it is intended to be a positive experience and one that should bring you friendship and hopefully, romance!
Exploring new ideas and resources will be rewarding and help broaden your horizons. It’s all these small, positive moves that once integrated into your life will help improve your self-esteem.
So, NY resolutions are important and if you find yourself falling by the wayside, don’t give up. Tomorrow is another day, and if you focus on how good you will feel when you’ve reached a particular goal, any minor hardship will have been worthwhile.
Losing a life partner is bound up not only with the love borne of friendship but also romantic love. Coming to terms with this loss, whether you are young or old, will challenge your spirit and senses more than anything.
Statistically, women are far more likely to be widowed than men. However, the older a man gets, the greater the chance that he will be widowed.
The course of bereavement for widowers will be different to that of widows. If there are children involved the experience can be quite overwhelmingly demanding which, in some ways, is not such a bad thing. Being busy and absorbed with the running of a home and the organization of children and their daily routines will definitely help to take the mind away from feelings of loss.
Most widowed men will agree that the daily demands on their spouse were far greater than they ever imagined. So much of what a woman does is a convoluted support system that keeps the wheels turning in a busy household, even if it was just the two of you. This is not to undermine a man’s role, of course, as he is likely to have been supportive of his partner in many other ways. If, because of a partner’s illness, the man is previously used to the daily demands of running a home, then coping alone will come in his stride; if not with a heavy heart.
With this in mind, it is worth noting here that men tend to take on a more primary attitude to the death of a spouse as they have seen themselves as the main source of protection and support. Initially, there may be the feeling that there is no real point in carrying on other than providing the financial needs of running a home. This feeling has been described as ‘being lost without a compass’ and it may well appear to those left completely alone, that a return to work is without purpose.
In spite of the inevitable concerns on the reliability of childcare, if necessary, and the day-to-day responsibilities of running a home in the back of your mind, it will be good for you to concentrate on something else. Going back to work, especially if you really enjoy your job, will come as a welcome relief. Use this time to think about your own physical and emotional needs as well.
Anything involving exercise is a good way to enhance your mental stability. Joining a gym or sports club, for example could very likely bring you into contact with others who have experienced the loss of a partner. Comparing notes is a good way to measure your recovery. Look outside the routine that you may have followed for years and see what there is on offer to broaden your horizons.
As time goes by and you find yourself settling into a different routine, you may even find that you are hankering after a relationship – even if it is only for companionship. This is nothing to feel guilty about. In fact widowers have a greater tendency to want to seek out another partner sooner than that of widows.
Dating again if you are still relatively young may not have the same amount of foreboding than for those who are older. However, a bit of moral support from friends and family could make the exercise that much more lightweight. It could be that one of your friends will know someone who could well be an interesting proposition for you. There are, of course, many social avenues for you to investigate; or you may even want to explore the possibilities presented by online dating. It is the norm these days for people, young and not so young, to seek out friendship on dating websites. This way you can take your time and not feel pressured in any way.
When, and if you do feel ready to date again, try to think positively about the experience. Whilst there may be a bit of uncertainty to begin with, have confidence in what you have to offer. If you have enjoyed a happy relationship with your partner, then there is nothing to say that you cannot enjoy the same with someone new. If it takes a while to meet that certain someone, be patient and don’t stop looking. You never know what the next chapter of your life has in store for you!
Losing a partner to bereavement is not something you are likely to come to terms with quickly. Learning to live as a widow will take courage and practice. In time you will be getting on with your life not as a widow but as a single woman.
Surprisingly, if you’re left with children and a demanding job it is possible that you’ll find your feet rather more quickly than if you are home alone and not busy. Children, especially, are a huge driving force to move you on and your mind will be on their wellbeing much more than yours.
This is not an excuse to ignore your needs, physically or mentally, but it does mean that each morning is kick-started with a ‘raison d’etre’ that cannot be ignored.
The more your thoughts are occupied with the need to carry on for the sake of your children/job/day to day responsibilities, the better it will be for you.
In time you will hopefully have settled into a routine and feel that you’re on top of things. There will be days that are more challenging than others, when you feel you can’t or don’t want to carry on, but by being busy and involved your recovery, such as it is, will surely come.
At some point in time you may even want to start dating again. This is nothing to feel guilty about and initially, is something you can ponder on your own. When you think the time is right then talk to friends, especially if they are also single, and explore what possibilities are out there for you.
It could be that one of your friends will know someone who could well be an interesting proposition for you. There are, of course, numerous classes, sports clubs and meet-up groups that you can investigate. You may even want to explore the possibilities presented by online dating.
If you do feel ready to date again, don’t leave it too long before you look for that special someone . Life is too short to sit about wondering if you’re doing the right thing. Dating should be fun and getting to know someone in the early stages can be very exciting and the outcome can be a revelation.
Widowhood can bring with it all kinds of emotional and financial hardship, but for many it is much worse. Many widows all over the world, especially those far removed from Western society, are shunned and vilified because they do not have a husband.
The first International Widows Day was launched in 2005 by Cherie Blair, the foundation’s president, and Lord Loomba, who is associated with several charitable organizations including Barnardo’s, Children in Need and OXFAM.
International Widows Day was introduced to address poverty and injustice faced by widows and their children in many countries, spotlighting the plight of widows in USA, UK, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Syria, Kenya, India, Bangladesh and South Africa.
It was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2010 and is today acknowledged each year on the 23rd of June. This is the day that Lord Loomba’s mother became a widow and is marked as a day of observance within the United Nations system.
It’s important to remember, however, that regardless of one’s country of origin or inhabitance, all women who are touched by widowhood can be subject to the same (or at least similar) emotional struggles and day-to-day challenges. This is why it is important to highlight, and place into context, the significance of organizations, which aim to enrich and enhance the lives of widows throughout every country of the world.
Let’s use today to think about the strength and fortitude exhibited by all those women who have lost their life’s partner; especially those with children. The sacrifices they have to make to support their families and the need to remain consistently strong in the face of adversity.
For more information on International Widows Day, visit The Loomba Foundation website.
Losing your partner around the Christmas holiday season must surely be the worst time to experience such a loss. If young children are involved there will be twice the heartache as they look to you to fill the space left by your partner.
To deal with this there are two options: the first is to go away and have a completely different Christmas experience; or you can carry on as usual but compensating for the absence of a mother or father, as best you can.
When my husband died suddenly, two weeks before Christmas, I had plenty of offers from family and friends to join them on Christmas Day. At the time, my daughter was 13 and my son, 10. We talked about what we wanted to do and staying home seemed, to us, the best option. In a funny sort of way, by doing this we felt that we were including my husband, and by carrying on as usual we thought that this is what he would have wanted. Certain Christmas tree decorations he had bought for that Christmas have survived, 20 years on, and are still cherished.
No one will be expecting you to rush around buying presents, but with children at home, especially young children, you will not want to disappoint. If there’s time, then of course, shopping online can be hugely helpful. I was totally over -indulgent that first Christmas but it helped to bring some cheer into the holiday. Playing some family-oriented games, even if you’re not a great fan, is a good way to involve everybody, and will help to take your mind off of any grey moments.
Going away, especially if you don’t have children, can be a blessing. Allowing yourself the luxury of some quiet introspection and thinking about how you might cope with the future can be therapeutic and will help to make you feel in control. If the death was unexpected, this is important.
Staying with some caring friends can be a welcome indulgence. Or, as a practical solution, you might prefer to stay in a hotel. However, I strongly recommend having a friend or two close by, as having a shoulder to lean on during any low moments will offer some comfort.
Christmas is a time for thinking about others and you will find people around you sympathetic and understanding. They will put themselves in your position and will relate to how you’re feeling – especially if they have experienced a similar loss. If you have opted to stay home alone and this upsets close family or friends who want to help, you shouldn’t feel bad. This is your loss and how you deal with it is up to you. However, making a few phone calls over the holiday to reassure your loved ones you’re OK is better than totally cutting yourself off.
If after the holiday season, you have coped well, then you can feel that the first anniversary has passed and you will be ready for any that follow. You have proved to yourself, and others, that you can cope and the knowledge of this will help you as you go forwards into the New Year, which I trust will offer peace and contentment in the long term.
Immediately following bereavement, there will be a period of time when you and your family have to make adjustments. This is a challenging time for all of you and coming to terms with this new life state can be hard.
However, it is hoped that eventually you will come to terms with your situation and having evaluated where your future lies, you might consider online dating. Joining a dating website can open up your life considerably. It is worth noting that whilst forming lasting relationships is the ideal resolution for some, making platonic friends with those who are empathetic can also be rewarding.
It’s understandable to have reservations about online dating, especially for widows or widowers, who will very likely have shared a safe and secure relationship for many years. However, looking for someone to fill the void is nothing to feel embarrassed or awkward about. For some, wanting to be part of a couple again is perfectly natural and dating websites exist to fulfil a need and that is to bring people together, not only for romance, but for friendship, too.
Everyone’s experience is different and there are no hard and fast criteria to make things happen quickly or more effectively. Sometimes it takes a while for the right person to come along. However, taking your time and building a relationship gradually can be a blessing and offers the opportunity to get to know someone through exchanging private messages before you commit to meeting up.
Because you are taking this step ‘remotely’, you have no reason to feel under pressure about who to talk to and who to connect with. You make these decisions in your own time. You will know when you feel comfortable about meeting up with someone and if you follow the recommended guidelines* about meeting up for the first time, you should be fine. Also, bear in mind that the person you are meeting is likely to be feeling as apprehensive as you, especially if this is early days for them, too.
If you have a friend who is also widowed, you may want to encourage them to join with you. Sharing experiences is a good way of testing the water and at the very least you can compare notes.
Today, it is statistically proven that one in four relationships begin online and this is second only to meeting a partner through friends. Joining an online dating community is accepting that you are ready to move on.
Some people who have used a dating website will tell you that to begin with they were unsure about the process, but most will tell you that once you have dipped your toe in the water you will wonder why you left it for so long.
*Initially, we always recommend that you make arrangements to meet up with someone during day time: for coffee, perhaps, and it goes without saying, always tell a friend or family member where you are and what you are doing. Never disclose your address or any other personal information until you are really sure of who you are talking to.
Although it may be second nature to hope that you might find similar qualities in a new partner to those of your late husband or wife, it is important not to rule out the possibility that the next person in your life may well be completely different.
This does not mean that you won’t be sharing interests together, but more that you will be exploring new ideas and aspects of your personality, which will make this relationship special in its own unique way.
Making a concerted effort to learn about your new partner’s interests and hobbies and being open about your own, is one way of building upon the relationship. It might be worthwhile to observe your new partner’s choice of activities and consider whether they could appeal to you. Something you have previously disregarded as not being to your taste may, in actual fact, present an opportunity for you to discover new skills. This could also be a good way of gaining confidence and help to build self-esteem.
I have a good friend who had had a fear of swimming in the sea for most of her life. As a widow in her forties, she found herself dating a marine biologist. Spending time on or close to the ocean occupied a huge part of his life and rather than face the possibility of losing his friendship, she motivated herself to take a course in scuba diving. Her partner was greatly impressed by this and extremely encouraging. Gradually, over a period of time, she has built the confidence to swim under water and is increasingly enthralled with the experience.
Another way of making a mutual connection could be that you explore an activity that neither of you have tried before. This may well open the door to new hobbies and interests, which you can develop together. Perhaps this is the perfect opportunity for you both to begin a new chapter of self-discovery!
If you have reached that point in your relationship where you occasionally stay over with each other, the next step could be to plan a weekend away.
Deciding where to stay and making plans about what you will do once you get there is bound to highlight any differences in taste. This provides an opportunity for some give and take. He might prefer a large hotel; you might prefer a log cabin. He might want to take his golf clubs and you might want to take your tennis racket. How you make decisions at this time will be a real pointer as to how you get on.
Also interesting, is how you feel when being seen as a couple in public. Are you aware that he looks at other women a lot – albeit fleetingly, but annoying, none the less? Does she seem to be constantly checking her phone to talk to her friends and family? These could be character traits that will make the relationship difficult in the long term.
In any case, the important thing is to always be who you are and open to the possibilities that lay ahead. In time, the activities you take part in will teach you things not only about your new partner, but potentially about yourself too, giving you greater appreciation for the future and what life may have in store.
It is hard finding yourself alone at any age, especially if the relationship with your loved one was a true partnership with shared interests and plans for the future. It makes it so much harder looking on at couples whose relationships have stood the test of time and who enter middle age with the prospect of retirement together. We look to the future and see ourselves in this place, but in a solitary state and wonder how we will cope on our own. This is difficult to envisage, as we all have our own way of negotiating life’s journey.
Some of us will use this time to travel and have a few adventures if we have the time and money to do so; others will be satisfied to throw themselves into the peak of their career or family life. However, there will be those who find themselves becoming more and more withdrawn and experiencing loneliness and feelings of frustration. Be reassured, it doesn’t have to be like this.
Sadly, it is the way of the world that one of you is more likely to die before the other; thus leaving a huge void for the surviving partner. How long it takes to come to terms with this situation will be different for everyone. When it happened to me I still had two relatively young children to bring up and whilst this seemed a daunting responsibility at the time it meant that I had focus and good reason to want to keep my head above water.
It is hoped that the passage of time, and the support of friends and family will gradually help you to come to terms with your circumstances. As time goes on you will see that you are coping well – and that doesn’t mean you are over your loss, but learning to live with it.
Developing new interests will help you to come to terms with your situation. I went on a creative writing course, which I really enjoyed, and I met some great people who shared my enthusiasm for poetry and literature. It gave me a huge sense of release to go out and mix with entirely new people and at the end of the course I had made some new friends.
There may come a time, regardless of your age, that you feel you would like to start dating. If you’re keen to meet someone who has also lost a life partner, this is a good starting point for the basis of a future friendship. What’s more, it also means that you don’t have to explain away any awkward background history, and you are less likely to experience the emotional baggage, which can become difficult to share with a new partner.
By asking yourself what you want from the next stage of your life will hopefully set you on a path to feeling complete again. If this involves meeting someone new with whom you can share your life, don’t feel guilty. Enjoy it as a sense of fulfilment. This doesn’t mean you have forgotten your partner, as he or she would want you to be happy; it is more a case that you are moving on but cherishing your memories as you go.
Your profile is your selling point and must deliver in a brief, but dynamic way, your best attributes and most compelling interests. Whether these interests are gardening, walking, cooking or a round of golf, don’t be reluctant to talk about them, as they are an important part of who you are and what makes you unique.
Crucial, of course, is adding a photograph. Without an image you are not likely to attract much attention. People are always suspicious of profiles without images as they naturally suggest someone who is not fully committed to the process or is unhappy with the way they look. The real reason is much more likely to be that you are shy, of course, but potential connections will not have time to make this consideration, they will have moved on to the next profile with a photo.
Once you are happy with your profile, you will feel more comfortable about contacting other members, as you will know that you have sold yourself in a way that is true to you and therefore more likely to attract a compatible person.
Here are five recommended steps to creating your perfect profile:
1. Be True
Don’t over-sell yourself and always keep a little something back in case you want to make an impression further down the line. Something like….’I play the piano’ or ‘I’m in the process of writing a book’, will very likely add interest on a first date.
If possible, get a friend to take a photograph. Pictures that you take yourself are unlikely to be the most flattering. A headshot, preferably whilst you are smiling, would be perfect and if you can, a picture in an informal environment where you look comfortable.
If you find writing about yourself difficult, write about what your passions are: i.e. your children, your hobbies, or your work. This will help to convey something of who you are. Keep it positive and try to display confidence within your text. As the saying goes ‘confidence is everything’! If being funny is part of what makes you who you are, then say something amusing. If you’re a serious kind of guy or girl then try to express this in some way.
Avoid saying too much about your assets – or lack of them. This is the Internet after all and you don’t want to attract anyone for the wrong reasons.
It’s not always a good idea to state in too much depth what you hope your next stage in life will be. Describe future plans only loosely, suggesting that you are open-minded about what lies ahead. For example, ‘a desire to travel’, or ‘learn a new language’. Keep things in the moment and focus mainly on describing where you are at in your life right now.
5. Say Hello!
Don’t wait to be found. Once you are happy with your own profile, visit the profile sections regularly and if there is someone who looks and sounds promising, give them a wink, or send a brief message showing your interest. If initial contact does not prove fruitful then try again. Someone, somewhere will be waiting for someone just like you.
From my own experience, being honest and genuine when creating a dating profile makes a big difference to the outcome of any potential friendship. The more people I interacted with online, the more I gained confidence and the more enthusiastic I felt about the possibility of dating again.
The period immediately following bereavement is inevitably taken up with getting the business end of our lives in good order. I was fortunate enough to have plenty of help with this and I had good support from friends and family to help me come to terms with my new life. During this period I had little time to think too much about what it really meant to be single again.
However, life gradually takes on a different perspective and I found myself spending longer periods of time on my own than I had previously been used to. It is not unusual to experience feelings of awkwardness at this time; I found dinner parties were no longer the convivial occasions they once were and weddings and other major events became something I dreaded rather than looked forward to. So what to do?
No one has ever said that taking the initial steps to meet other singles following the death of a partner is easy, and understandably, should be taken with forethought and caution.
The prospect of dating again may bring with it feelings of guilt and uncertainty and this is understandable. However, once you have decided that this is really something you want to do, you will soon find the confidence to take the appropriate steps.
Connecting with those that have also been bereaved could be a good way to go.
The links you will be making will have a first-hand understanding of how you are feeling and are more likely to be empathetic to the inevitable emotional struggle that may occur in the early stages of friendship. It certainly helped me to connect with other widows and widowers following the passing of my husband.
When you’re ready to take this first step, having the courage to join a dating website could be the best way to open your life up to new possibilities. Or it could be reaching out to someone you already know who is also single. Either way, acknowledging that you are looking to change your status and be part of a couple again is a healthy sign that you are moving on.
In time, hopefully, you will find the relationship you are looking for and rediscover what it’s like to be part of a couple again. Only you will know when the time is right.
If you’re happy being single, then there is no reason to ever feel that you should be otherwise. The most important thing is to know that you are growing in confidence and living a life that you enjoy and feel comfortable with.