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Its only been since June 7th that my mother passed, but I have no friends (3 died). Went to 2 senior centers, tried to have conversations, & volunteer for stuff. At the first place, people barely responded & did not smile. Second place had very nice people but the person in charge of volunteers said she didn't need me: (later I was told she didn't like my ideas & just didn't want me to come back). I feel terrible that these places have been so heartless. What do you think? I feel like I did something wrong, but was nice to everyone I met. Not sure what to make of it...thanks.

Tiger, sounds like volunteering at a senior center isn't the right fit, and there isn't anything wrong with that. You need to look for other volunteering openings that make you feel like everything is right with the world.

I do volunteering at the regional hospital, at the front information desk. When giving directions, if the person looks like a deer in headlights, I will walk them to their destination, and they couldn't thank me enough.

My desk mate is a lovely woman from India who had moved to the States decades ago. She was dealing with elderly in-laws visiting [a visit was over a year long] from the old country, so she and I were comparing notes... it was like free therapy for the both of us. Interesting, dealing with elders is the same everywhere in the world.

If hospitals isn't your thing, and that can be understandable.... maybe do something that is your passion which isn't related to assisting living or hospitals, etc. Here are other ideas:

Local fire/rescue houses. You don't need to know how to use a pick ax, there could be an opening for admin work.

Local library. I remember back 40 years ago, I use to shelve books.

National parks. Great if you love the outdoors, also they may need admin work.

Food panties. Help shelve the incoming items, help bag items, help in soup kitchen if you enjoying cooking.

Habitat for Humanity.

The American Red Cross.

Speak a second language? So many places need interpreters.

Love local history? See if any of the museums need volunteers.

Non-profit thrift shops always need volunteers.
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Tiger55 Jul 14, 2019
Great ideas...thanks. I'm hopeful I can find something I like as much as you have!
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I’m so sorry for the loss of your mom. Have you given yourself time to grieve? Sometimes we need to give ourselves more time to figure things out before we try to get involved in something after the death of a loved one.

Give yourself more time to think about what you really like to do. Just because you are a Senior doesn’t mean you need to stick with just Seniors when seeking volunteer opportunities. My aunt always said the women at her center only cared about “hooking up” with the few men who were there and were pretty witchy to the other women. The woman who said she didn’t like your ideas, well...maybe next time wait until you’ve been there for a good while before sharing your ideas, as good as they may be.

Give thought to what you really like to do. Love animals? Volunteer at a shelter or with a rescue. Foster homeless animals if you’d care to. Love kids? Find a school program in your area who looks for Seniors to come read to the children. Want to make a difference but still be with a group? Our area has a group of Seniors who run a thrift shop for low income people. It includes a cafeteria that serves meals to them.

There are other things to do besides Senior Centers. Good luck. Hope you find something you love to do.
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TXGirl82 Jul 14, 2019
I agree with @ahmijoy about senior groups not being the only game in town. They can be good, if you find the right mix, because many people are in the same life stage, but volunteering or working at another place can be interesting too because it's nice to be around people who are different from you.
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Obviously, I don't know you, but I do know that it can be hard to get back to regular life after a long stretch of caring for someone and I think making friends is difficult for lots of people.

That said, since you found the people at the second senior center to be very nice, why not go back there? You don't have to volunteer -- you could just attend activities and play cards or whatever.

I don't know what you mean when you say the volunteer coordinator "didn't like my ideas". Were you suggesting improvements? (Forgive me if my guess is incorrect.) If so, she may not feel she knows you well enough, or that you know the jobs well enough to suggest something before you begin volunteering. Or she (he) may just be very threatened about an outsider suggesting something new. Regardless, you could go back and just offer to volunteer wherever you are needed.

If the volunteer coordinator doesn't want you now, just go to the activities and skip volunteering. The important thing is to keep going back and give it some time (two or three months? more?) before you evaluate how things are going.

Being the new kid on the block usually means you have to be the easygoing one (I don't mean you have to bend to peer pressure or anything that conflicts with your values). Just sort of "fit in" with the established group and be friendly, but don't expect people to warm up too quickly. Go and have fun, chat with a few people and leave it at that for a bit. You don't want to seem needy (even if you FEEL needy right now).

After a while, you may find someone who is fun and seems to be a potential friend. Consider asking him/her to meet up at the center one time for a particular lecture, or games, or whatever. Try not to feel rejected if that person isn't receptive. Wait a bit until you find someone else who is friendly and try again. Keep at it.

Give it (and yourself, as you are so recently bereaved) time.
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Tiger55 Jul 14, 2019
That makes lots of sense, I think I did offer ideas too soon, but I'm used to being the helper for so long. Thanks, I would like to continue the fitness class, but I will do as you said & not overdo. Appreciate ur help!
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Tiger - when you face rejections, it's easy to feel discouraged. I try to remember that when one door closes, another will open. When some things don't work out, perhaps, invisible hands are steering you away from those places and are leading you to some other places that are meant for you. So keep trying.
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Tiger55 Jul 15, 2019
Polarbear:) thanks, I sure hope you're right, (& yes it was so discouraging!) I'm struggling with having faith, but what you said: helps a lot...😅
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When my marriage ended, I know not the same as losing a parent, but grieving all the same, I joined a quilting group in the city next door.

I did not a soul in the group, which meant nobody knew about the ugly divorce I was going through. I had not made a quilt in 25 years, but wanted to start again. It was quite wonderful to be me, not a mum, exwife, etc. It was a good option for me because it had no links to my past life.

Tiger, we have discussed being raised by abusive parents, even once they have died the abuse remains. Please continue your therapy during the grieving process.
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Tiger55 Jul 18, 2019
That's ingenious Tothill & so glad it was theraputic for you. I do like handsewing, but I've never quilted. True what you said about the trauma of abuse 'lingering'. It shaped my personality in a sad way. It was a miracle that I completed an A.A.S. later in life, or ever got married. So much panic. My dear aunt was even worse, (she rarely left the house, & needed lots of valium).
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Feeling hyper sensitive after a LO dies is pretty normal. So, every little negative experience out there in the world is felt so much more deeply and it hurts so much more. That's why self care during this sad time is so very important. Remember, you are very sensitive right now, so anything that goes wrong is going to feel 10 times worse. Therefore try and keep that in mind, and try and do alot of positive things for yourself. Here you are being generous and trying to help others by volunteering.. but maybe you need to do some nice things for yourself now... like take weekly massages, go for walks, go to the spa. And talk to friends, even if it just here. Big hug and condolences regarding your LO. xx
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Tiger55 Jul 14, 2019
That sounds right... I've been so achy that massages would be great. Yes, self-care has been a deficit for me all my life, not very good at it, at all! (I think it's part of my upbringing...) Thanks!
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Jumping off from your grandchildren comment, you might consider volunteering at a school, park, museum, day care or library or other organization that has children services and see if you enjoy spending time with other people's grandchildren. In my area the local schools have several openings from reading books to helping out in the pre-k and kindergarten serving snacks and buttoning coats. Our community center and some parks need people who facilitate kids "checking out" rackets, ping pong paddles/balls, jump ropes, etc. My town has a "hands on children's museum" with exhibits children are meant to touch and always needs helpers (my favorite is helping out with the stage where there's lots of costumes for the kids to play dress up). You might start slowly helping out in a church nursery on Sunday to see if you like dealing with other people's grandchildren. Several of the larger churches in our area have a children's church while their parents attend the sermon where I enjoy helping (although I haven't in a year or so).

Right now I'm supervising alternate weekend parental visitation for a divorcing couple with young children. One spouse has a drug problem but is a lovely person when sober. I pick up the kids from their home with the custodial parent and meet the non-custodial parent at some agreed upon venue (like a park), make sure the parent appears sober, watch the kids play for a couple of hours, then usually transport them to Dairy Queen for a snack with their parent before taking them home. This afternoon the kids went wading in a stream running through a local park and fed some bread to the ducks there.
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Tiger55 Jul 15, 2019
Wow, TNtechie, that's so interesting, & I will look into those:) Its funny that I did call a local church daycare yesterday & they take volunteers! I do know a worker there from a previous job, so maybe it will work out. I'm struggling with some anxiety, but thank you very much for your help!
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I volunteer with my local County Sheriff's Station. It is so different. Age is no barrier. They have something for everyone to do. I patrol, look for stolen/abandoned vehicles, staff roadblocks at accident/homicide scenes. We also volunteer at city events, high school football games, and parades. Some take patrol units from the station to the garage to be repaired. They also have a place for some in accounting and filing, or in Logistics, checking out weapons and radios. Some of us also role play for deputies who are leaving jail duty to go out on the streets. They need refresher classes and we pretend to be (druggies, mentally ill, talking on cell phones while driving, and Domestic Violence situations). You can also volunteer at Parks, campgrounds, dog shelters, hospitals, and National Forests if there is one near you.

Some volunteer work can count as employment on a resume. There are some programs available that pay you as a Senior citizen or someone re-entering the work force. I am an 85 year old woman and they still need people like me.

Don't give up and please do give yourself some time to grieve. You not only lost your parent, you lost your job. No wonder you feel adrift. ((hugs))
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Tiger55 Jul 18, 2019
So true MaryKathleen, that I did lose my 'job' when mom died. (I never realized that)! The volunteering for your sheriff dept sounds insanely cool! Thanks 😎.
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My mother made a lot of new friends at a water walking class. The exercise was good and the group talked before and after class. After a few months they started organizing a monthly lunch and then an annual Christmas party at someone's home. It became a social club and even after ladies dropped out of the exercise class, they still participated in the social club for years afterwards.

A group of my high school friends reconnected on FB and meet every couple of months for a dinner. Interesting enough, we all have or are caring for aging parents.

There are also some book clubs on FB where everyone reads the same book and discusses it online. I'm a reader and a techie so something I can do from my home (where care giving or my asthma often pins me these days) is useful for me.
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Tiger55 Jul 18, 2019
Those are great ideas, (Hi TNtechie!) It's hard for me to commit to social events like dinners or concerts, or sport events. (Not sure why it scares the he!! out of me), but can't do it. I'm ok at a fitness class: that lasts an hour, (cuz I don't have to converse too much, (just short greetings or chit chat). More than that would make me feel trapped & nauseous. (I know that's not normal).
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Tiger, I had a thought over night. Instead of editing my first post, I thought I would start a fresh reply.

I am a strong advocate of volunteering. I volunteer with three different organizations throughout the year as well as at various weekend events. I also go to university full time and work 10 hours a week. During Tax season I am volunteering up 15-20 hours a week. Tax season and final exams fall into the same month.

Part of the abuse I suffered as a child was to be told I was unworthy of affection, caring or love unless I was doing something for others, or doing house work. Yup, the crazy amount of volunteering I do, is directly linked to the abuse I suffered as a child. The abuse continued into my marriage with me working 6 days a week, while my ex, 'worked' from home, for 4.5 of the last 6 years of our marriage.

It has been a challenge to allow myself the freedom to do what I want, when I want, how long I want etc. I am in my 50's learning who I am. Joining the quilting group was the beginning of the discovery.

So Tiger, please when looking at how to spend your time, give some thought to what you would like to do, not how you can serve others. You have had a lifetime of doing the bidding of others.

You can go to the seniors centre and not volunteer, just enjoy the activities. You can pick up a hobby, take a class, learn a new skill.

Going back to university was the best thing I ever could have done. I have met people from all over the world, I have made some incredible friendships with people younger than me.

The quilting group has allowed me to explore my creative side, and this spring I went on a trip from BC to Missouri to meet some quilting stars. It was an incredible 9000km road trip and I had a wonderful time.

I am still learning about what I enjoy, what I want to incorporate into my life moving forward.

Tiger, this is your time to shine, not serve.
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Tiger55 Jul 18, 2019
That's beautiful Tothill & I hope to find things I love to do. (That's unexplored territory, lol!) You're right about me having served all my life, & neglected myself. I'll try not to rush into any commitments then, & thank you💟.
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