A month ago my brother-in-law died after a three year illness.  Roger and his wife, Sue, had been married for over thirty years.  As with many women who married at a young age, Sue has never lived alone.  She went from her parent's home to the home she shared with her husband.  Now her children are grown and she is living alone for the first time in her life.  Sue has wonderful children.  But they have families and homes of their own with big responsibilities for work and children. She is a prime candidate for a side effect of losing a partner -loneliness. 

    Perhaps you know of someone who is also dealing with loneliness.  If you are the child of a person like Sue who has lost a partner, encourage them to find a new activity.  Perhaps you could even accompany that person to a book club meeting or a cooking class.  Encourage them to choose an activity that is truly active rather than passive. Sitting in a lecture or listening to a concert may be entertaining and rewarding but is unlikely to help with the underlying issue of loneliness. Joining a team, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity to build a house or the local theater or symphony to be an usher, or hosting part of a progressive dinner with a Sunday School class could be great ways to strengthen old or develop new relationships.

    Often when the partner who has died had been ill for sometime, the surviving partner had been tied down with the responsibility of caretaking for a long period of time.  Their chance to be with others may have been limited.  So don't be shy - encourage family members and old friends to reach out to her.  That may be as simple as a phone call or visit or a request for her to join them in one of their activities.

    Remember mourning is a process and will include sadness and loneliness.  Sometimes it will help for the surviving partner to talk about this with a physician, counselor or therapist.  Hypnotherapy can also be a valuable tool in helping a person to mourn and then move forward to the next stage of life.