I was widowed at the very young age of 32, after seven years of a terrific marriage. My friends were great in the first months, but as time went on it became clear that my regular circle was excluding me from things we normally did together. No, in the first months I didn’t feel like doing much of anything, but this was still going on for over a year after my husband passed away.
It’s rude to question why you weren’t invited to something, but they would talk about their excursions and dinner parties in front of me afterwards. By this time I was ready to get out of that silent, too-empty house a bit. Finally I mentioned it to a friend. She kind of squirmed, and said that everyone was a couple, so they thought I’d be uncomfortable. I said I’m still quite capable of striking up conversations with other adults by myself.
This went on and on and I was hurt, but what can you do? Then came the worst of all.
Two VERY longtime friends were getting married. I knew they’d mailed out invitations, and was waiting for mine to arrive. The bride called and told me I was not being invited. They knew it would depress me, and she was calling to explain so I would understand and “not be hurt.”
Ever been in one of those situations where you’d normally say something in your own defense, except that you’re too stunned that this is actually happening? Well, this was one of those times.
I hung up, feeling really hurt, then I got madder than a hot place. Being widowed is bad enough without other people treating you as if they’re afraid they’ll catch it.
I never said anything to the couple, but I did have a talk later with her sister, who seemed to share the bride’s opinion that I’m not capable of deciding for myself whether I’m up to attending a social event. At that point I start deleting people from my list of friends.
I am now happily remarried.
And I hope you have a new circle of friends who won’t patronize you while in mourning. People will often commit faux pas with the best of intentions, not realizing that if they were to step away and look at their actions from an orthogonal perspective, they’d reconsider what they intend to do.
I suggest the following book, How Can I Help?: How to Support Someone Who Is Grieving by June Kolf, as a great resource for learning how to interact with those who are in mourning. In fact, I’ve given away more copies of this book than any other.