For those who have been living the single life by choice or because of divorce, or simply because “that’s just the way things turned out,” the idea of creating a more social home by joining up with a roommate can be a transition that evolves naturally. It can be simply a matter of moving from one stage in life to the next, accommodating shifting desires and needs.
For a women who is widowed, however, living alone is not an option that she chose; it was forced upon her, and it’s likely to last several years at least. According to Doreen Horan of the Counseling Center at Stella Maris, a provider of long-term care in Maryland, women who’ve lost a spouse wait on average two to five years before starting to socialize again. Men, on the other hand, wait between one and two years.
This leads to an extended period of loneliness for new widows, and loneliness can lead to depression. A study at Michigan State University found that older people who go online to stay in touch with friends had a more than 30 percent reduction rate of depression symptoms. Imagine how much greater the alleviation of depression if women left suddenly alone through loss of a spouse turned to one another to share the companionship of living together.
Living with a roommate in that case might be worth trying as a healthy and beneficial choice for a new widow, even if she doesn’t imagine herself living with a roommate forever. Chances are that it will be at least a few years if not several before she begins dating and possibly finding a new spouse. She might turn to a dating site when she’s ready to begin looking for a love relationship again, but probably not for awhile. In the meantime, why not turn to a roommate-matching service, to alleviate loneliness and depression and bring some companionship and fun into her home life?
Sally Stitch’s insightful article on Next Avenue, “Building a Social Life After the Death of a Spouse” offers thoughtful advice on how to make friends when the time is right.