Feeling isolated is a common experience after a loved one has died, particularly after an initial burst of extra support around the time our loved one dies, e.g. the coming together for the funeral or the busy organisation that is required in the immediate aftermath of death. When these things have passed life can feel quiet and lonely.
Friends or family may seem to drift away as they return to their own lives. Or perhaps now that your loved one is gone the link to your previous social network is severed. For many people, losing a loved one can feel like we have lost part of our identity, perhaps because over time the people that have passed away had become part of us and who we are. Part of your bereavement journey may involve coming to terms with the sense of a new identity, whether that means establishing new support networks or re-connecting with old friends.
Accessing support from other people is really important but understandably this process might feel scary and painful. Try to remember that there is no prescribed amount of time that has to pass before you feel ready to make an effort with anyone or anything. Try to avoid judging yourself critically for how you feel or setting your expectations too high. Taking small steps towards something that feels right for you probably is right for you, but only you can sense what you need when the time is right. We learn as we go, and there are no ‘rights’, ‘wrongs’ or ‘shoulds’.
It may be worth letting people know what you need if you feel able to, for example, letting them know that it’s ok to ask about your grief rather than go quiet on you, or letting them know that you feel isolated. Often people do not know how to help or what to say, so we can help them help us by speaking up.
If you have been feeling isolated recently or struggling to adapt to a new way of life, you are welcome to make use of our spaces by joining us in person at one of our groups or socials. All upcoming events can be found on our calendar.
We are always here for you.
Dr Francine Bear