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Coping with Bereavement and Loneliness

Written by Marianne Heron with Paul Britton

There’s a lot of advice out there about bereavement, some well-meaning and some misplaced. Some key points are in the acronym TOWN.

  • Time - Of which you need plenty, before patches of blue begin to show through the grey of grief
  • Other - Your other half has shared and taken up part of your life. Now that part is waiting to be filled and lived in a new way.
  • Wait - Wait at least a year before making any major decisions like selling your home.
  • Notes - Keep notes and files on everything that you have to deal with.

Combatting Loneliness

No one likes the L word, with its ‘no one loves you’ connotations. It’s a sneaky state which can creep up on you disguised as something else: like feeling fed up, bored or down in the dumps, when really what you lack is vital social stimulation. Whether you are extrovert or introvert, you still need people to bounce off, to give you a sense of who you are, albeit to varying degrees. Without that contact, your self-esteem goes down so that the more lonely you are the less likely you are to remedy your plight. Work provides a social context and it is vital to find ways to replace that in retirement. Loneliness is also an inner state, you can be lonely in a crowd or even in a marriage.

Here are some pointers:
•    Start with yourself. Be good to yourself. Do something you love doing, something you have been reserving as a treat or that you have promised yourself. You will: (a) feel better and (b) interact with other people in a more positive way.
•    Try new things like learning to tango or sign up for an activity that involves something that really interests you, a photography course, bread making or writing.
•    Do something for other people, reaching out in a positive way works wonders, whether it be volunteering, getting involved in your local community, offering hospitality or simply helping out. You have more time now so why not give it?
•    Refresh neglected relationships and build on them.
•    Be prepared to spend more time planning social events for yourself: use the internet to find out what is on, and try new things

This excerpt was taken from Rewire Don’t Retire, sponsored by Irish Life and Active Retirement Ireland. You can download the full guide HERE.