After becoming an empty-nest widow or divorcee, you come to the realization that you will be frequently eating alone. You can’t really go out to eat every night (well, I suppose some could) and getting take-out still means you are dining with yourself. So over time you adapt to solo meals.
I remember my mother, after being widowed for the second time, said what she disliked most about living alone was eating alone. She said she hated eating at the kitchen table by herself “staring at the walls.” So she took to the family room to watch TV while eating.
I’ve adopted her routine when I eat alone or sometimes I read while eating. I also call people for a catch-up chat, which is kind of like eating with someone. This adjustment is challenging after having a husband and kids to share food with for so many years.
The upside to this bleak scenario, at least for me, is you don’t have to cook much. No one is asking you what is for dinner, which I got for about 28 years. I cooked a lot and over time it became a chore to meal plan and execute. However, Tom was doing more cooking in our later years and excelled at kitchen cleanup. In fact, in our five months as empty nesters before he got sick, he was cooking more than I was and I loved it.
I’d say do whatever makes you feel better. A widow I know says she makes sure to set the table, complete with a cloth napkin and flowers, before sitting down to eat alone. If the weather is pleasant, you can eat outside. You can make dinner and invite people over.
I know I’ll have more dinner parties moving forward, and eating alone — comfortably — is just another widowhood adjustment.