No one can truly replace the departed loved one. The times and places once shared could be interwoven in shared memories and attachments. Each and every place, occasion, breakfasts, lunches, snacks, dinners, outings, time with friends and family may be involved.
The above memories of the past, combined in association with the departed and the grief, may at times be overwhelming. Each of the above conditions (associated with the departed and the grief), considered separately, may not be as overwhelming. There may be rumination; that may be difficult to overcome given the combination of associations. That may hinder forming new relationships. Even the old social relations may seem different, having a different feeling or meaning- given that the loss of the loved one is associated with the old relations.
Ones beliefs, values, style of attachment, resentments, unexpressed feelings, dual relationships, and other traumas that co-occur at the time of loss may influence resolving ones grief about the departed and forming new or renewing relationships.
In the December 1996 issue of the journal "Personal Relationships" Simone Lamme, Pearl A. Dykstra, and Marjolein I. Broese Van Groenou reported that new relationships within ten years of the partner's death are formed more:
- by women than men
- the longer the duration of widowhood
- given the availability of a new person
- given attempts at looking for it
Widowhood is not the only determinant for the size of the social network. In a January 2013 article titled "Social network changes and life events across the life span: A meta-analysis" Cornelia Wrzus, Martha Hänel, Jenny Wagner and Franz J. Neyer reported that:
- overall network expands till young adulthood and then shrinks
- private and friend networks shrink in adulthood
- neighbor network remains throughout life
- work and 'neighbor' network were variable among ages
In a May 1986 article titled, " Relational competence, relationships, and adjustment in old age", Robert O. Hansson reported that among 60-72 year olds the increase in ability for, participation in and contentment with supportive social relations would increase:
- moral spirits
- adapting to widowhood
The significance of social relations for the 73-94 year olds are not in the above, seemingly, self serving social relational functions. Since the end result of the relations are important for elderly beyond age 73, they may limit the number of social relations and relational responsibilities. They may avoid or limit the number of structured and risky social relations.