Widower in need of a social life!!
February 14, 2008 5:54 AM   Subscribe

Widower Father-in-law Filter: My mother-in-law passed away a little over a month ago. Im trying to get some ideas to help out my father-in-law to go out and do some activities that will help him meet some friends and start to have a social life again.

My mother & father-in-law are great people however during there 35 years of marriage they were very much home-bodies and never really socialized with friends or had many friends outside of work and family. In fact all of their socializing has been with family and never hanging with any of their own friends, as they really didnt have any. Now that she has passed away he needs to find something to start doing. So far all he has been doing is attach himself closer with his daughters which is fine however he needs something outside of that since his daughters have their own families to raise and cant be their all of the time for him. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. FYI..Hes in Dallas and 60yrs old. Also hes not much of a religious man so any church ideas he wouldnt go for. Thanks for all the great posts in advance!
posted by flipmiester99 to Human Relations (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When I am new to a city and want to meet some people, I use Meetup.com. I gave a quick peek through the Dallas listings and there is a lot of stuff. I can't recommend anything in particular, since I don't know what your father-in-law is interested in.

I've had good luck with the language conversation groups; the one I go to now has a healthy mix of people and ages from undergrads to retired folks. I've also seen active groups for people that like certain dog breeds, and I've seen interesting looking groups of people who will meet in a park or something on a weekend to practice painting/sketching. Does he like cribbage?

Since he's older, maybe you can help him navigate the website and sign up for different groups. Also, since it sounds like he's not used to being very social outside of the family, you could go with him to the first meeting to see if he feels comfortable. I think that would be true of any social group you find- it's hard for someone who is shy or not used to mixing with strangers to show up alone.

Good luck!
posted by ohio at 6:20 AM on February 14, 2008

After only a month of mourning, he may not be ready for a grand social debut.

Ready or not, the grand social debut will only work if he wants it to. I'm not sure what sort of relationship you have with your father-in-law -- more specifically, how candidly you can discuss the amount of time he is spending alone and whether this is healthy (because it could be, you know) -- but first you need to find out 1) if he would consider more social activity 2) what sort of social activity (here you can bring him resources and ideas, but he gets to decide).

Have you talked to his daughters?
posted by bluenausea at 6:25 AM on February 14, 2008

I would suggest you get him involved with some clubs. I do not know what relegion he is, but you can find a lot of clubs and support groups in the church. Also, check out some of the clubs in his area. I know the Sons of Italy has a great time, and would love for him to stop by and meet with them. No, he does not have to be Italian. My widowed Mother-In-Law is there a lot. Best of luck to you all.
posted by JAD'E at 6:35 AM on February 14, 2008

Thanks for the replies. Obviously im married to one of his daughters. All of his daughters want the best for him and they want him to get out and meet some people and be involved with something outside the house. I am very close with him and we spoken about it a few times but he doesnt know where to start. How does a 60 year old man start meeting new friends?? I would also say hes a very social person when people are around and is not shy by any means i just think hes having a hard time figuring out what his interests may be.
posted by flipmiester99 at 6:52 AM on February 14, 2008

Has he been seeing a counselor to help him transition to life by himself? That could be very helpful. Has he looked for widowed spouse groups? A month is not a long time at all. Has he looked for senior activities groups? Everywhere I've been, especially in a city, has TONS of resources for people over 55 - exercise classes, social groups, field trips and tours, sort of things.
posted by Melinika at 7:24 AM on February 14, 2008

60 is not particularly old. Are you sure your assistance in this matter is needed and welcome?
posted by thomas144 at 7:36 AM on February 14, 2008

Not sure about Dallas, but most communities have "senior center" organizations that offer everything from crafts and computer lessons to travel slideshows and low-stress dancing. You might see if there's something like that in his area for him to consider. Taking a class or two might be a low-profile, limited-commitment thing that would get him meeting people.

That said, a month really is not very far into the grieving process, particularly for the loss of a spouse, and your family might need to be patient with him as he (perhaps slowly) works through a lot of difficult emotions.
posted by aught at 8:10 AM on February 14, 2008

Oooh! Since he's in Dallas he could try volunteering at DFW as a Visitor Information Volunteer. They're the people who sit at the information desks and answer travelers' questions. My parents volunteered a few years ago when they were around 65, and had a blast. There will be lots of people your father-in-law's age.
posted by MsMolly at 8:28 AM on February 14, 2008

Just be social. Invite him to the house for dinner with the family, invite him to come along with you golfing or hunting or shooting or quilting or whatever you do with "the boys".

But speaking as a homebody, don't press too hard. Nothing we hate more than being told to cheer up or get out and talk to people. So tread lightly.
posted by gjc at 8:43 AM on February 14, 2008

thomas144...Im just asking so that if the topic comes up i have some ideas, suggestions, to offer him.

gjc....I do invite him to do things when its appropriate and we have him over to the house very often.

****Like i said the main reason i posted this question was to offer him some insight when the topic arises and after the *grieving* period is over.
posted by flipmiester99 at 11:40 AM on February 14, 2008

Looks like you've addressed it with your comment above, OP, but I just want to put the final emphasis mark on the fact that your father-in-law is going through worlds of grief that cannot ever be understood except by those who have been there themselves. And sometimes, not even then, since everyone deals with these things differently. If he is introverted this will be a long haul for him--quite probably life-long. He will be, and is already, a man in pieces. I know someone who could pass nearly exactly for your father-in-law's description, so I'll keep your father-in-law in my mind as he goes through this because I'm sensitive about the so-called "stages" of grieving. Unfortunately the "grieving period" is a vastly inadequate term for what it attempts to describe. 35 years is a lifetime, and though she's not there anymore, that time spent with her will never not have been there. He is facing the challenge of purposefully rebuilding his entire self-image in the face of huge odds and distractions. From my perspective, losing a loved one is the worst thing that can ever happen to a human being. (YMMV, as they say.)

If he is introverted, I would say that he will deal best with this by dealing with it in an introverted way--by writing, recording, drawing, whatever, about his feelings. As you imply, light dashes of new social activity will need to accompany that, as, of course, he does now have to re-orient his life because his wife is no longer at the centre of it as she has been for 35 years. But be aware that the biggest crash often comes after the social event, when, on the way back to his place, the reality of his life crashes in on him again. Company can bring ups, but there are some pretty hard downs on the other side.

Good luck, to him and to his daughters, and to you.
posted by roombythelake at 12:57 PM on February 14, 2008

I think you've received some good suggestions but not every 60 year old man would be excited by the prospect of doing "senior" activities. My 63 year old and very active father would absolutely hate socializing with that set, and probably would find suggestions along those lines depressing, picturing dull lunches with curly-gray-haired old ladies discussing the minutiae of their daily lives.

He needs to find activities that interest him, with the daughters' help, and yours. Does he like reading? Volunteer at the library. Any sports? Find a group to play golf or tennis or ride a bike with. Interested in history? Do something with a museum. Basically things that get him out of the house and interacting. The sports, in particular, would be my suggestion. My dad and, especially, his brothers are heavily involved in biking, doing frequent group rides, longer road-trips, and so on. Good for health, as well.
posted by 6550 at 1:46 PM on February 14, 2008

Most universities offer extended degree programs and/or more basic/practical courses through an extension (sorry, WI link). These can be a lot of fun and a good way to meet other people with similar interests.
posted by mimi at 3:14 PM on February 14, 2008

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