Life After Loss
You are never prepared.
Even when you know your spouse is going to die, mentally, emotionally and many times financially, you are not prepared.
It's impossible to know what it will feel like or what it will be like on your own. Many widows and widowers experience a range of emotions - sadness, cheated of lost time, jealously of happy couples, boredom with the same routine, loneliness.
When someone experiences the devastating loss of a spouse or partner, it is important to toss aside the notion that they should cope on their own. That's what the men and women of Arbor Hospice's Lunch Bunch and Dinner Diners do.
"The Lunch Bunch and Dinner Diners are made up of men and women who have lost their spouse or partner and are facing the realities of living alone - many of them for the first time in their lives," said Melissa Schultz, Arbor Hospice Grief Support Coordinator. "One of the things we hear is how difficult mealtime can be, cooking for one or eating alone. Lunch Bunch and Dinner Diners gives these individuals a chance to interact with others experiencing the same challenges, meet new people and share a meal."
The groups choose a local restaurant each month, trying new places and new meals.
"I've come to realize that I don't have to be alone," said one 78-year-old woman. "It's nice to have someone to talk to while I eat. My husband died two years ago and it's so quiet in my house now."
"Anytime I can get out of the house and get a good meal works for me," said an 82-year-old man who has been forced to prepare his own meals since the death of his wife more than a year ago. "Believe me - I had no idea how to cook before my wife passed, and going to a restaurant alone is no fun."
For others, Lunch Bunch and Dinner Diners serve as a way to meet new people and socialize.
"Many of my friends are struggling with their own illnesses or are caregiving for a spouse," said an 83-year-old woman. "It's difficult for them to join me for lunch or dinner, so it's nice to have the company of these folks," she says as she looks around the room to the 16 other widows and widowers.
The group seems to grow each month as more people hear about the group or someone brings a friend, and each new person is welcomed with open arms.
You don't realize what it's like until you've lost your spouse or partner - and then you turn to friends who can help you along.
Arbor Hospice's grief support programs are free of charge through generous community support, and are available to everyone in the community, whether or not a loved one received care from Arbor Hospice.