Losing a partner can knock people’s confidence and leave them feeling lonely.
The Oddfellows, a non-profit friendly society which champions friendship and community, has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the effects of losing a partner, as members cited this as one of their main reasons for joining.
Joy Warren, 75, from Ferring was introduced to The Oddfellows by neighbours Michael and Janet Porter, after her husband of 50 years passed away.
Knowing the idea of meeting new people and joining in socially again was a daunting prospect, Michael and Janet knocked on Joy’s door and invited her to join them at an Oddfellows friendship group.
Joy said: “I’ve never been the type to sit still, so despite the fact I was still grieving for Graham, I knew I had to get out and socialise again, but it was difficult to know where to start. That knock on the door was the encouragement I needed.
“They made sure I was never alone for too long and if I didn’t fancy coming with them, there was never any pressure, just a gentle reminder that they were always there.
“I joined them at all sorts of group meetings and events, from visiting the local dogs’ home to having a catch up at the monthly coffee morning. I signed up to The Oddfellows as a result of the wonderful new friends I made there.”
Joy was also struggling with decisions about her home and finances, which she was now having to make on her own.
She explained: “I’m of a generation where Graham used to take care of all that, so it’s been tough for me to figure out what the right thing to do is sometimes. The Oddfellows was a huge help with this as they have a Citizen’s Advice line for members, which has got me through some complicated times.”
Michael is secretary for The Oddfellows’ Brighton and Sussex District branch, so he has seen many supportive friendships form in the group.
He said: “We understood that Joy needed some time and space after losing Graham but we made sure we were always there for her when she felt ready to join in. The time it takes to feel ready to step out and meet people again is a very personal thing. It can be a matter of weeks for some, or possibly years for others.
“There are so many wonderful things to get involved with locally, both through the Oddfellows and also the wider community, which can be a huge help when you’re trying to figure out where to start.”
From coffee mornings and afternoon teas, to lunch clubs and guest talks, The Oddfellows hold regular events and activities throughout the year.
Joy said: “Since joining, I’ve become more involved in the organisational side of The Oddfellows and I am a trustee for my branch, which is something that I really enjoy.
“My advice to anybody in this situation is to get out there, socialise as soon as you feel ready and don’t worry about going to events alone.
“People at The Oddfellows are very friendly and you can always just ring ahead to make sure there is somebody to meet you who understands.”
For a free information pack about joining The Oddfellows and a copy of the branch’s events diary, call 0800 028 1810 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have recently lost a partner, The Oddfellows’ First Steps page contains some useful guides and information on how to make meeting new people feel a little less daunting.