Dear Annie: My husband passed away seven years ago from complications from Alzheimer's disease. We had very dear friends whom we went everywhere with — church, movies, plays, vacations. The husband of my friend also had Alzheimer's, and he passed away a year and a half later. The two of us bonded even more and went to church, out to eat, etc. My friend developed health problems, and I began to take her to her appointments.
She was going through personal problems because of her financial situations that developed, as well. She began not wanting to go places because of embarrassment about her finances. It caused me great concern, yet it was so complex there was really nothing I could do. At times, I was concerned that she did not have adequate nutrition. She passed away a few months ago.
I didn't realize I was investing so much of my time in trying to see her and care for her that I am out of the loop, so to speak. I'm trying to make a concentrated effort to get out and do things with friends. I am fortunate to have many acquaintances and friends. But I've always heard that "two's company and three's a crowd." How can I start back doing things without butting in on my friends who have bonded?
I do believe, to an extent, that being a widow takes away some of a woman's self-esteem. I don't want to get in anyone's way. — Seeking Guidance
Dear Seeking Guidance: I'm so sorry for your loss.
You sound incredibly thoughtful — so much so that I can't imagine that you would ever "butt in" in any way. Your friends may have gotten used to your not being around so often, so it could take some time for them to get back into the habit of remembering to keep you in the loop. You just need to be willing to initiate contact more often than you normally would. The more you're around the more they'll remember to invite you to future outings.
And another option to get the ball rolling in your social life is to host a get-together with friends and friendly acquaintances. The group setting takes the pressure off and allows everyone to socialize more casually. It might be true that two's company and three's a crowd — but four's a party.
Dear Annie: I just had to respond to "Weight Watcher," the woman who wrote in about her husband's gaining 15 pounds in 15 months. I think you missed something there. What you told her was good — but he sounds clinically depressed. If he would just visit his family physician, he could get diagnosed and receive the proper meds. My husband went through the same thing. He didn't know he was clinically depressed. (There's a difference between "feeling depressed" and "clinical depression.") Once he was put on the proper medication, it made all the difference in the world — weightwise, moodwise, everything! It's also a fact that as we age, it's easier to become clinically depressed. — Been There
Dear Been There: You raise a great point about clinical depression and the fact that its signs are not always obvious. I encourage readers wondering about the symptoms of depression to visit the National Institute of Mental Health's website (https://www.nimh.nih.gov) or, better yet, talk to a doctor.
I'm so glad your husband's doing better.
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