Widowhood and Leisure: An Exploration of Leisure’s Role in Coping and Finding a New Self

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The loss of a spouse is a significantly stressful life event that can negatively affect social connections, life satisfaction, and mental health. This study looked at leisure’s role in helping study participants move forward and establish what life looks like as a widow. In-depth interviews were conducted with 13 widowed women regarding their leisure activities and the potential benefits to their coping process. Findings indicated that participants often sought out social groups and leisure activities based on their changing needs (e.g., for distraction, companionship, support). Relationship dynamics with friends changed, leading them to seek out new social groups. Analysis showed that social leisure benefited these women by providing connections with women in similar situations and also served as a tool for their own personal evolution and realization of a new reality as a single woman.