Well, what says you? I have been retired for some years now and so are my friends. Not only that, many in my circle have now passed on—a staggering reality for many Seniors.
My husband passed away three years ago, and only today, another in our high school class more than 50 years ago also died.
Death is so much a part of life. More so in our senior years. The earlier we accept this reality, the better will be our appreciation when it takes place in our lives.
We all dread it, I understand. But, at one time or another, someone who is so much a part of our life passes on. The pain and the loss are something you don’t want to wish on, even your worst enemy.
How do you go through this? How do you manage? When, even amid fun, the memory of the loved one who passed on occupies your thoughts? How do you forget?
How do you hold the tears that, at any moment, pour out? How can you enjoy anything when your thoughts often return to not being there?
Loss can be debilitating. It can ground you in misery, fear, and loneliness. Even with supportive family and friends, it is not like having your loved one there.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned:
- I realized how valuable companionship is, to have someone to laugh with, express your fears, foresee your reaction and smile at it understandably, hold your hand when the movie scares you, or discuss the often perplexing events in today’s world.
- I have to learn to do many things on my own. Eating out alone in a restaurant gives me a bit of discomfort. Or going to a movie or a show on my own. There’s no one to whisper some comments to or share your delight over a dish or a performance.
- I don’t enjoy long drives alone. When my husband was around, our long drives were moments of getting to know things in our past, childhood, or thoughts about many things. The sharing somehow becomes more intimate and genuine. Listening to the radio now doesn’t cut it.
- I don’t enjoy socializing on my own. It’s like half is missing. My husband was very gregarious and never wanting for words and stories. I, on the other hand, would prefer only to listen. Now, I have to talk more. Maybe, this is not so bad after all.
- It’s always fun to have someone around you to harass, laugh with, cry on, love, and be loved. No matter how much you search for a replacement, it is not the same. Mourn your loss. It is important to do this. However, you have to move on and look for ways to live life after your loss. It is not the end. It is the beginning of something different, fascinating and satisfying when you allow yourself to experience it.
A friend told me that those who died are still with us, and I like this. I talk to my husband all the time. When driving, I ask him to help me navigate the traffic, make it easy to merge on the highway, and don’t forget to close the gas cover or leave my credit card or wallet on the pump.
I see friends in other countries. At least I have company in seeing places and enjoying restaurants in those cities. I see friends where I live.
I have learned to be close to family, travel with them once in a while, visit them, and hang out with them. As was the case before, I have come to appreciate them more as I relate with them directly and not through my husband.
I have worked on my fears and my tendency to depend on someone. I learn to do things like driving long distances, fixing things, taking care of things on my own, and dealing with loneliness.
Each one of us deals with loss in a different way.
But I have many friends who have lived alone because they have not married, divorced, or widowed. I’ve learned how to take things in stride from them and not let matters overwhelm me. They kept telling me that they’d done it for many years. Why am I complaining? Somehow, this pushes me to do the things I dread doing.
After three years, I feel I’m getting into the rhythm of living alone. As much as the first day it happened, I am still my husband, but I can cope with life alone.
I found how valuable a good relationship with our families and friends is. It’s strong support as I deal with my loss. I don’t think I would have managed if not for these relationships.