Questions and Answers


Question

My spouse died many years ago, and while we are sealed for eternity, I still find myself struggling with loneliness. What can I do to combat these feelings, and what can we all do to help relieve the loneliness of other widows and widowers?

Finding Comfort

I combat my feelings of loneliness by helping someone else who is lonely. I keep busy in my garden, and I joined a literary club. I also learned to play the organ after I was 70 years old. What a joy that has been to me. There is great joy and satisfaction in being able to make music.Marcell Wanner, Inkom First Ward, McCammon Idaho Stake

I have found immense help in simply asking Heavenly Father what I should do today. Whom should I visit? Whom should I call?

I found that many in my ward had also lost a spouse. We have a singles family home evening group, with both sisters and brothers invited to attend. Our course of study for the past year has been the Book of Mormon. After completing 100 pages of study, we have a party to celebrate. We also celebrate our birthdays, have picnics, go to the temple together, and go to activities together that individually we might not choose to attend.Shirley Arendt, Cleveland First Ward, Cleveland Ohio Stake

Just one month before our 20th wedding anniversary, my 45-year-old husband passed away. I was left to raise four children between the ages of 11 and 17. A sure knowledge of the gospel certainly helped us through our grieving.

Having an eternal perspective on life can help the healing, but the personal loneliness is still hard for me to deal with at times. I have learned to use the lonely evening hours to do things I didn’t have time for during the busy day. I try to make some of it “my” time. I look forward now to those quiet evenings when I can reflect on my life and where I am headed. I also keep photos of my husband around the house so that the children and I are reminded of him.Susan Cole Catudal, Kirkland Ward, Montréal Québec Mount Royal Stake

I have been blessed with many material things and good health, yet sometimes I sit home at night and cry. I wonder why I am alone and there is no one I can love. I really don’t know if there is only one good answer to overcoming loneliness, but the love of my children and a lot of prayers have kept me going.Max Crowson, Claremore Ward, Tulsa Oklahoma East Stake

My husband was the only member of the Church in his family. Doing his family history has been my salvation! It keeps me busy, and I feel I am doing a service to him and his family.Marilyn Corsetti, Mesa Park Ward, Sandy Utah Alta View Stake

One tool that has helped me is the scriptures, especially Mosiah 14:2–10. These verses have helped me understand the nature of trials, tribulation, loneliness, and sadness. When I ponder the fact that our Lord and Savior was despised and rejected, “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Mosiah 14:3), I feel reassured. Jesus Christ knows us; He loves and understands us in our afflictions, grief, pain, and loneliness.James Mayo, Skowhegan Ward, Bangor Maine Stake

It is still difficult for me to go out in public without a companion. I feel as if I don’t belong because I am not with my spouse. This has made me more sensitive to others in the same situation. I’ve also come to appreciate people who just listen and give me the chance to talk about my late husband and share my memories of him. He is still very much a part of my life. I try never to speak of him as if he doesn’t exist.Janalyn Biesinger, Oxford Ward, Salt Lake Granger South Stake

I have made it a priority to concentrate on the positive—the here and now—by recording in a journal each day at least three things for which I am grateful.Dianne Billstrom, Clayton Valley First Ward, Walnut Creek California Stake

After my husband died more than 11 years ago, I had to accept the reality that he was gone and then make the choice to be happy. I knew that feeling lonely was at least in part a matter of choice and attitude.

I have also tried to stay busy in missionary work. I was blessed to work with many wonderful elders and sisters who were so full of brightness. Their enthusiasm for life was more than enough to enliven my sagging spirits.Nenita A. Cea, Naga Second Ward, Philippines Naga Stake

Dating is not easy after age 60, but finding someone to share my life with was well worth the effort. I became acquainted with a wonderful woman whose husband had died. We decided we could be happy together and were married for the rest of this life in the temple. The past five years have convinced me that the best way for me to overcome loneliness was a happy second marriage.David Mumford, North Logan Third Ward, North Logan Utah Green Canyon Stake

I have learned to be grateful for the marriage I shared with my husband and to turn my life over to the Lord and let Him direct me. It has been six years since my husband died. I have relocated and found a new job and new friends, yet I still stay close to family and old friends. I have a different life, but I am more dependent on the Lord than ever. And I feel stronger within myself than before. I won’t ever stop missing my husband, but I can finish becoming the person the Lord knows I can be.Janet Hardy, Clear Creek Ward, Quincy California Stake

My husband, Peter, had already retired from work, and our desire was to serve a mission when I retired in August 1976. But my husband passed away earlier that year in January. With the help and love of my family, I decided to go ahead with our plans. I served a mission for nine years and was released in 1985. By actively serving the Lord, I have found a solution to my loneliness.Jean Hurley, Orpington Ward, Maidstone England Stake

Jesus Christ promised us in John 14:18, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” He is willing to help us. If we ask and trust in Him, He will make us whole again. Through the influence of the Holy Ghost, we are able to feel His love and be blessed with beautiful, comforting memories of our loved one.Jason Taylor, Ensign Fourth Ward, Salt Lake Ensign Stake

Giving Comfort

My husband died when I was 37. When others asked, “Is there anything I can do?” I felt awkward. If a person is sincere about wanting to help, don’t just ask; do something. Make a dinner, offer to take the person grocery shopping, send a card, share memories you have of the person’s spouse, or just listen.

Remember the widows and widowers when holidays, anniversaries, or other special occasions are approaching—especially if they are alone. Invite them to your activities if appropriate. Holidays are often a difficult time to be alone, and grief deepens. Knowing they will be remembered helps ease their loneliness.Ruby Von Dwornick, Cambridge Second Ward, Cambridge Massachusetts Stake

The bishop of our ward arranged one time for the young people to get acquainted with the widows and widowers. The youth learned our names and made an effort to speak to us. It had a heartwarming effect on most of us. After the bishop was released, many of the youth continued with kind words and service to the older people.Nell C. Folkman, Ygnacio Valley Ward, Walnut Creek California Stake

My progress in adjusting to my new situation as a widow has been helped by the love and concern of those around me. It is amazing how much simple acts can help—a hug, an inquiry into how I am doing, sitting next to me in sacrament meeting, or an invitation to go on a walk or to dinner or a movie. It reassures me that someone cares and is thinking of me. One sister called me almost weekly for a year after my husband’s death, even when she was traveling, just to check on me. Another sister took me to a garden store and bought some plants for my yard. Then she came to my house with her young daughter to help plant them. As those flowers blossomed throughout the summer, I thought of her love for me.Candace E. Anderson, Herndon Ward, Oakton Virginia Stake

Tips for Overcoming Loneliness

  • Cultivate gratitude for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the knowledge that you can be together again.

  • Read, think, meditate, ponder, and pray often.

  • Prayerfully study and ponder your patriarchal blessing.

  • Request and receive priesthood blessings when needed.

  • Listen to and ponder the words of a hymn every day.

  • Work on your family history.

  • Attend or volunteer to serve at the temple.

  • Consider serving a full- or part-time Church mission.

  • Get involved in your ward or stake single adult group activities.

  • Write a history of your life or of your spouse and family.

  • Get a pet for company and security.

  • Go for walks. Exercise.

[photo] Home teachers offer fellowship. Pets can help provide companionship. (Photograph by Marilyn E. Peo.)

[photo] Church singles groups offer support and social activities. (Photograph by Steven Bunderson.)

[photo] A Church-service mission will enable you to help others. (Photograph by Jed Clark.)

[photo] Time with family members or friends can reassure and strengthen you. (Photograph by Michael Schoenfeld.)