Widows need a strong social network to give us a vital sense of belonging. Our social networks act as a family to support us and to make us feel safe and secure in this crazy world of grief.
If we don’t get enough support our health will suffer. In fact, the bigger our social network, the better off we will be.
However, just as it’s not good to stand completely alone when grieving, it’s also not good to depend on too small a circle of friends. They may not be able to understand and support your grief journey.
Widows are stressed and not having a sense of belonging creates even more stress. If you don’t feel safe and secure and have a sense of belonging, if you feel helpless in your grief, your ability to resist infections is lessened.
Be different, be you and break the emotional and social patterns. Don’t be afraid of change or standing out in your actions. You are no longer in the “wife” role and so your new journey is a change that is made easier by your social network.
Sometimes we widows need to accept our helplessness, because at times it’s important to allow ourselves to be helped. The ideal, is for our journey to be a balance between being powerful and being vulnerable. This is where it’s important to listen to your self-talk.
- Independent – I’ll do it myself.
- Poor sense of belonging – No one cares.
- Mistrust – People are mean
- Sense of belonging – I can call anytime.
- Trust – They will keep my secrets.
Are you powerful or vulnerable? Do you go back and forth between the two?
Science shows that an excess of either one or the other can set you up for illness. Your “powerful” mindset is exhausting because we can’t always do everything on our own. On the other hand being “vulnerable” all the time weakens us because we wait for others to give us happiness.
It’s important to move beyond the “wife” role and find another way of being “you”. I know it felt good to be part of a couple, to have a stable place to land, to belong; but it is no longer good for your emotional health to hold on to what is no longer there.
Mary Francis, The Sisterhood of Widows
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