For the first year after her husband Mort died of cancer, Mary Childs, now 68, looked mainly to her two sisters and her quilting friends for comfort and a social connection.”I couldn’t do much more than that," says the Lakewood, CO, retired nurse.

About a year after Mort’s death, Mary felt ready to start taking baby steps to move on and meet new people.

“Mort had been a hunter and had promised to teach me how to shoot,“ she says, “but we never got around to it.” When a shooting range, started by two former SEALS, opened near her home, Mary decided to learn what she had missed with husband.

“I met so many wonderful people at target practice,“ she says, “and I even started entering competitions around the country with many of the people I met locally.” Now, four years after losing her husband, Mary’s confidence and sense of empowerment has grown, as has her social life.

“I met a man on Seniors Meet and we have been together for a while now,“ she says.

I love the word “partner”, and the social connotations that it has built up, but feel like there are times when it’s an overstatement to call someone you are dating a “partner”.

It diminishes the impact of partner, which I’d rather reserve for deeply committed long-term relationships more closely equivalent to “spouse”.

Four years ago, Barbra Cook, now 62, lost her husband of 36 years after his 10-year-battle with early onset Alzheimer's.

“Several of our couples’ friends drifted away during Morris’ illness,” she says, “but I was determined to both sustain and build a life for myself after he died.” During his illness, she continued folk dancing, a lifelong passion she and Morris never shared. For others, the journey may start a year or more after the loss.

“Neither of us wants to live together or get married, but it’s great having male companionship again.” Lots of people who lose their husband or wife feel like it's easier to be alone and not deal with the anxiety and other pressures associated with being social. Our well-being is based largely on interactions with others.