Q. This New Year’s Eve will be my first as a widow. I don’t want to spend it alone. But I suspect the two couples my husband and I used to celebrate with will either make other plans without me, or ask me to join them out of obligation. What should I do?
The entire holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving and extending through January 1, is a stressful time for most adults. Supposedly perfect families surround us, and we often have unrealistic expectations of happy experiences ahead. For recent widows, the holidays—and especially New Year’s Eve—are particularly difficult, seeming to underline all that they’ve lost.
Because you don’t want to spend the evening alone, your first consideration is who you would feel most comfortable with. If you prefer to be with the couples you mention, can you focus on that choice rather than anticipating their feelings? These people are grownups. If they ask you to join them, by all means accept. Or you can be proactive. My late husband and I regularly spent New Year’s Eve with another couple. We went to a good movie, followed by a festive dinner and champagne at a nearby restaurant. After my husband died, I decided to call these friends as the holidays approached and propose our traditional movie and dinner on December 31st. They could have bowed out. Instead, they were very glad I had asked. At our New Year’s Eve dinner, we toasted my husband, reminisced and laughed about past New Year’s Eves, and moved on to other conversation. Of course they kissed at midnight—but they hugged me, too. I felt sad, but also wanted.
This year I may round up some single women I know to go out to a restaurant to celebrate. Or I may ask a friend, who regularly spends New Year’s Eve with women pals, whether I can join them. They may not want to add another person. But I try not to let fear of rejection stop me from enjoying my life.
Another option is to talk to family members and/or others you trust about your concerns. They may have suggestions, such as community events you can comfortably attend unattached, that would never have occurred to you.
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Florence Isaacs is a freelance journalist, author—and a widow herself. Her books include My Deepest Sympathies, When the Man You Love Is Ill and Just a Note to Say...The Perfect Words for Every Occasion.
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