FOR Ian Miller, the hardest thing was going home and finding no one there to share his news of the day.
Then Ian, who lost his wife Elizabeth in 2013, found company with a group of fellow widowers.
Now he’s at the forefront of moves to see similar groups spring up all across Scotland to ease the loneliness of other men who have suffered bereavements.
Former fire brigade divisional commander Ian, 82, is a member of the Widowers and Coffin Dodgers Club at Springfield Cambridge Church in Bishopbriggs.
“I was 77 when my wife died and I’d never run a house in my life,” said Ian. “My wife did that, so I had that sort of thing to think about.
“But while I came to terms with that and got into a routine, I was at a stage of my grief where I just wanted to sit at home and be left alone.”
Then Ian reluctantly accepted an invitation to go for a lunch date with a couple of other members of the congregation, one of them a widower.
“I’m eternally grateful now as it was someone to talk to and it helped me immensely,” said Ian. “We started to think it might be good to help other widowers and the group grew. The Widowers bit of the name is obvious and we chose Coffin Dodgers as we’re all getting on a bit.”
Recently-bereaved men are given time to grieve and deal with all the arrangements before being invited to come along to the Wednesday lunches.
The idea is simply that they have a bit of company, a chat and, most importantly, a good laugh.
“Men just aren’t good at talking,” said Ian. “If a man meets someone when he’s out for a walk there might be a brief, ‘Hello’.
“Women are more likely to have a good catch-up. Being able to talk like that is so important.
“Sometimes I’ll get a call from a fellow member of the group who I know is really wanting to talk because they are maybe feeling a bit stressed.
“We all know what the others are going though. Some of us are further down the path, but the feelings are the same.”
Other churches have asked how they might follow the example.
Ian says it’s not a religious thing and anyone anywhere in the country can follow the example.
“It can be set up in any organisation – or no organisation. It might just be a couple of widowers of any age, anywhere, who get together regularly at their local cafe.
“Having a blether and helping each other through the grief is what it’s all about.”