Ch.215 Grievers’ Enemy: Lonely Weekends
I was having coffee with Betty, a recent widow when she said, “I hate weekends, I hate them.” She talked about how lonely she felt on weekends: alone, abandoned, empty. There were never enough things to do or people to see on Saturday and Sunday. Her friends were busy with their families; Her children didn’t call; Her volunteer activities took place during the week. All she had on weekends was her television and her loneliness.
Betty isn’t alone. Lonely weekends are a theme we’ve talked about frequently in my grief group. Weekends are the enemy, a black-clothed shadowy villain constantly reminding us that our lives are empty of activities and meaning. Lives that had been purposeful now felt useless – on weekends.
We grievers are not like lifelong singles, many of whom cherish weekends as time for themselves. And, probably not accidentally, all my fellow grief group members used to be 24-hour care partners. We didn’t have weekends, at least not these lonely times. We were blessed with the gift of constant companionship. Apparently, we got used to it (we “became habituated,” my psychology friends would say). And then, in a moment, that life ended with the death of our partner.
I wrote about this concern once before (Ch.184, “Time is In My Hands”) in which I described how changing the saying “Time is on my hands” to “Time is in my hands” helped me feel less passive and more in control of my life. That small change has helped me every day. However, weekends are still weekends. It takes more energy and effort to stay active; in particular, meeting my need for social interaction is much more challenging on weekends than weekdays. Sure, I could go to a movie to kill an afternoon, but I would be going to that movie by myself. Alone. That’s not as enjoyable as being there with friends and it’s definitely not as meaningful as going with Pat, wheeling her through the theater until we found a place where she could see the film. My weekend is actually four days long: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. Tuesday through Thursday are when I travel to Eau Claire, take Levi to Barks and Recreation (doggie day care) and meet up with friends and my children Joshua and Jenny, for coffee or lunch, and go to other meetings. Tuesday through Thursday are my socially active days; Friday through Monday are my “How am I going to get through today?” days. I have noticed, though, that gradually weekends are becoming less scary. I have more faith in myself, I think, belief that I can fill every hour positively, whether that be actively (clipping shrubbery, walking Levi and Blackie, jigsaw puzzles…) or passively (watching sports, reading). It’s part of establishing my new identity as a single person.