* In April 2015, members of the Auxiliary Member Advisory Committee voted to change their name to the Surviving Spouse Advisory Committee (SSAC). This column was renamed to reflect that change. Also note the new star logo, which was chosen by the Surviving Spouse Advisory Committee as the new survivor logo.
DATE: February 22, 2018
FROM: Surviving Spouse Advisory Committee (SSAC)
SUBJECT: ‘Building a New Social Life’
By Sharon DeVaney, Surviving Spouse Advisory Committee member
How do you fill the void in your life after you lose your spouse? Here are some ideas to help you become the outgoing person you once were.
If you don’t have to relocate, it could be possible to rely on your family and friends for a while. Your family members have suffered a loss as well. Try to brighten their days. You could meet for lunch or bring a salad or dessert to share a meal.
If you have grandchildren who have school programs or sporting events, you can attend and be there for them. Perhaps, their school needs volunteers or mentors.
Maybe your church sponsors a grief support group. Listening to speakers and sharing with others might help you process your loss.
Calling another widow or widower and inviting them to a MOAA meeting will help both of you keep that connection to military life. Offer to help. You could represent surviving spouses if that position is not filled.
Volunteering to help at your church or for a community function will bring you as much reward as you will give to others. Every group needs new faces and willing hands.
Try something you haven’t done before. I became a docent at our Fine Arts Center. I loved touring visitors of all ages. For many children, this was their only exposure to art. Also, other docents became my new friends.
Use your work-related skills. I volunteered to teach a life story writing class at the nonprofit in my community. That brought a group of strangers together who became new friends as they shared their amazing life stories.
Discover a new talent. I moved this summer and joined the drama club at the senior center. I hoped to find people who wanted to attend plays. Instead, I learned the club was producing the Fall Follies. All of a sudden, I had bit parts in three skits and the opening and closing numbers. We closed with a Salute to Veterans, which moved the audience to come to their feet!
Spread cheer by visiting residents in a nursing home. A friend in Florida makes bouquets from her garden and brings them to residents.
Consider getting a dog. It will need to be fed, walked, and loved. I guarantee that you will be visiting with other dog owners on your daily walks.