DEAR ABBY: My late wife and I were married for more than 60 years. My reason for writing is to express how shocking it is to find many friends and relatives have given me the cold shoulder since my wife's funeral. I cannot understand why.
The isolation and sense of loss at a time of life when one needs support and encouragement have been hard to cope with. The funeral expenses and the need to curb my activities because of the decrease in income are heavy enough changes to absorb, but the rejection by people I thought were friends hits even harder.
Is there a specific reason for these cold shoulders and lack of phone calls -- just when the opposite is needed? Several of these previous "friends" are strong church attendees.
I served my country in World War II and was wounded twice. During my years of service, I never met any servicemen who turned their backs on me. -- HURTING IN LAKE FOREST, CALIF.
DEAR HURTING: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your beloved wife. I'm sure the loss is compounded by the isolation you are now feeling. However, since I do not know the friends and relatives you mention, I cannot guess at the reason they have dropped away just when you need them most.
In the same batch of letters as yours, I received another that touches on the same subject. I think you'll find it informative. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I recently lost my dear husband, who died very suddenly. The grief following such a tragedy is indescribable. My salvation has been to keep busy and to join a grief support group.
The reason I am writing to you is to urge anyone who has suffered a devastating loss to find a grief support group and join. The first meeting or two is very hard, but stick with it and you will find solace in the friendships and the sharing of your feelings. It was stated at one of our meetings that "We are a group of people who belong to a very exclusive club that no one wanted to join, but each of us paid the dearest price on Earth to join." All of us in this group agree that the best medicine for our grief is our weekly meetings.
I encourage all people who are grieving to find a grief support group. Ours was formed by a coalition of churches. Following the death of my husband, the mortuary, the hospital and my church all told me of grief groups. They are out there, and you don't have to look too far to find them. -- GRIEVING BUT SURVIVING IN EDINA, MINN.
DEAR GRIEVING BUT SURVIVING: Thank you for a timely letter filled with excellent advice for anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one. You may never know how many people you have helped today by providing such a detailed road map for where to go for help in coping with the loss of a loved one. Often just being in the company of those who are coping with the same experience can be a lifesaver.