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Are you in process of moving on, creating a new life after the loss of your spouse?

Hello, my name is Steve and my long time male life partner passed in March 2009, from an 18 month battle with stage 4 colon cancer. We had just celebrated our 30th anniversary the prior January before he passed, I was 46 and he 50 yrs old when he passed. I was absolutely devestated At his passing, the shock and awe of finding myself in this situation was so hard for me to swallow, and I was just so lost and didn't think I would survive it. It took me about 3 yrs to realize that I wasn't going to be joining him in heaven any time soon, and it was time for me to start trying to put a new life together. I have read so many books, participated in weekly therapy, and have done everything I could think of to assist me in my healing, and trying to let go of my prior life with Mike and allow myself to find a new, happy, content life. I am at peace where Mike is, I know he still loves me, and we will be together again, when its my time to pass. The tricky part I am going thru now, is moving on. I have worked very hard at this part. I have faced going thru all our memories and trinkets, cleaned out my entire life of our stuff we shared. I have moved from our home, come to terms with all the long time friends that are no longer a part of my life, a new wonderful man popped into my life in Aug 2013 and although I had great reservations and apprehension, I decided to move forward with him into a new love and committed relationship. We have now been together since December 2013. I love him very much, he is a wonderful guy. But still, in the quiet, I am still looking for my old life on a daily basis. I think I have moved on, have so many wonderful things in this new life, but still, I feel like something huge is still missing. Deep down inside, I am sad, lost and still yearning for Mike, still looking for him when I wake, still expecting him to be there when I have joyous news, or face a difficult challenge. I am still surprised at times, when I am cooking dinner waiting for my partner to walk in the door, and it's not Mike, it's now Chris. "Oh yea". "Mike is gone"! There are so many moments in my daily life, that are different now. Not that my new life isn't good, I'm very lucky, and have so many good things, it's just trying to create this new life, as my new "normal". When Chris holds me, is affectionate to me, picks me up from the airport, just every day, normal things, I'm still disappointed deep down inside, it's not Mike. I'm so sad, that I'm not so fulfilled, and joyous, in this new life, like I was before. I know I have to be patient, the connection I had to Mike was built over 30 yrs, and I have to give it time with Chris and my new friends, and so on. I just don't feel the connection to this new life, feels like I woke up in a new strange life, and I'm trying to make it work, but it feels like I'm faking it to a degree. 95% of the people in my new life are new, and I'm grateful for them, but I miss that long time connection with people I loved and knew so well. I'm missing "home". I'm hoping someone out there is going thru the same thing, or has gone thru the same thing and can share their experience in this.

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Hi Steve... Even though I'm exhausted I have not been able to sleep, so I decided to look at thIs site, again. I found this site about 3 years ago shortly after my husband, John, passed away in May 2012.
I know the reason why I cannot sleep is exactly all the things that you have written in this post. I have found a new partner that looks like is going to lead to marriage.. He is a widower.

What I am struggling with is exactly what you have put into words that I haven't been able to put into my own clear thoughts....and that is though I truly love this new person in my life... I also truly miss probably even more the life I had before.. And I'm really struggling with this.
Life with this new person will mean a move for me.. A totally different lifestyle change.. And a totally different focus on future goals.. In fact everything is as opposite as I could get...when compared to what my life would be like if my late husband was still here.....
it worries me that even though I'm excited about my potential future I'm just as scared about my potential future.. This would be my third marriage.. My first marriage ended in divorce after 21 years.. My second marriage to John was 5 years before he was taken ill very suddenly and passed away.. Both times in the first 2 marriages I don't remember being just as scared as I was excited.. My excitement outweighed my scary feelings....
However both of those times things were quite different...the first marriage we were just starting out young and everything was new for us.. Buying a house together.. Building careers together..

And my second marriage, he moved into my house.. He was the one that had to make the biggest changes in his life.. And his lifestyle.. He had to get used to a new town.. He had to get used to living with teenage sons.. And used to a very independent woman.. However we made it all work.. Though there was some really rough times there were also some really wonderful times..

This third time means me moving out of my house that I've had for almost 25 years... And to be honest I was planning on selling it anyway irregardless of whether or not I was going to be involved with someone else... It is just too big of a house and too much yard for me to want to do on my own.. However the thought doing this and moving somewhere else is more frightening than the thought of moving and staying local.. When I say relocating we are only talking about a 35 minute drive away...it is not like I am moving across the country or into a different state.. I will still keep my same job ...I was still keep in touch with my family..my youngest son is living with me.. My oldest has moved out.. The youngest plans on moving out by the end of summer.. So I really don't have my children to worry about.. However there is just something about being or building a life with someone different this time.. However this is the first time I've ever been a widow so starting a different life from that perspective is quite different then starting a different life as a young woman..or a divorced woman with two kids..
I know I am rambling .... I am hoping this is making some sense...your words just really put it into real words what I've been struggling with.. It has been very helpful for me tonight.. I think I can finally go to sleep..
Thanks. ..Linda
Hi Linda, thanks so much for your reply. I completely understand what you are saying, and have had very similar thoughts along my path, and still do. Chris my new partner is a wonderful guy, I'm so lucky to have him in my life, as you mention too, I love him. He has been so good for me in so many ways. He is hysterically funny, is so good at making me laugh till I almost pee. Just with comments he says, or making fun of a snooty waitress, or whatever. We have a very similar sense of humor. He is younger than I, and has tons of energy, so he keeps me very active and it has been good for my physically and mentally. He loves to go to the zoo, amusement parks, nature walks, beach. Movies, we do a lot and have had some wonderful vacations together. He helped me finally pull the trigger on celebrating Xmas for the first time this past year. I had not celebrated any holidays since 07, but Chris's Christmas spirit reminded me so much of myself and how I used to be, and I just couldn't help get back into with him. Once I let go of my worries, and painful memories, made the decision that, this challenge is here, to help me get back into life again, so I decided to just push through the sadness and little memory stings along the way, and just have fun with it. We went crazy! Decorating our home, beautiful Christmas tree, spoiled each other with gifts, and spoiled our families and friends, Christmas music, and lots of shopping. It was awesome and I was so touched and grateful to be back into the Christmas spirit and to have someone I love to spoil and enjoy again. He helped me pull the trigger finally of getting out of my prior home, where Mike had passed. I knew I needed to, wanted to, but just didn't have that final push to make the move. Well I didn't want to start my life with Chris in that home, so bam, I did it and moved into a new place with Chris. I'm so glad I did. Chris is a wonderful, moral, caring, sweet man, I'm so lucky to have him in my life, and I feel as though he will always be a part of my life. We do have a large age difference, which has its challenges, for me, it doesn't seem to bother Chris whatsoever, but it does me at times. But my point being here, is that whether Chris and I are together for 30 yrs, or just a few. I will always love him and look fondly on our time together, as he has been instrumental in getting me out of my sadness and deep darkness, and helped me so much to remember the joys, and newness and beauty of life. He has been perfect for me, the perfect prescription to get me to a different level in my moving on. Also to the point of our conversation, I still struggle with feeling like this new life is mine. I do struggle with feeling "home" with Chris. I guess part of it is our age difference, he is 25 and I am 53. I'm still so shocked that is loves me and wants me and is attracted to me. He is so handsome and attractive and funny, and I'm just so surprised and can't believe what he sees in me. Not that I'm not a great guy, and so on. Just wouldn't think a younger man, who could have any man he wanted basically, loves me. Don't misunderstand, I'm grateful, it took someone I liked so well, and was attracted so much to, to get me out of the quicksand I was in. To get me to actually pull the trigger and kick me in the ass to move into a new life. if you have ever seen the TV show "modern family" I identify with the father character so much, who is married to a beautiful Latino woman, much younger than him. I had great reservations at first, was very apprehensive to dating him, he pursued me. But once he said he loved me, and I realized I loved him, I thought. How crazy am I not to take this train and enjoy as much as I can, while I can, until he wakes up, or, I drop dead from a heart attack with a huge smile on my face. Lol. Chris is very serious though, we have almost been together two yrs, and we have deep talks, I'm still like, Chris you have brought so much joy to my life and I'm so amazed at how you love me, and how lucky I am, but I don't want you to ever feel trapped. Just let me know you want out, and I will gratefully say I love you and please keep in touch. He gets mad when I say this, he says, when are you going to believe that I really love you? I am only attracted to older, mature, men, all I have ever dated are men in their 40s and 50s and if you left me, I would look for another man like you. So it's up to me to figure out what I want to do. I have to figure out a way to really let go of my former life, and just enjoy my new one. I realize I once again need to tell myself patients. Also, if I don't start feeling more at home with Chris, I could drive him away.
Gosh...Steve. ..you said some profound things here...so glad you shared...
My new guy is 11 years older than me. ..he is 72...I just turned 61.....age difference not as much as yours.
however we have lifestyle differences...he is retired. .I work full time and not able to afford to not work...
I became a mom late...he a dad early....his children are in their 40s and 50s...mine in mid-to late 20s.
He is pass the young grandkids stage...I am not even a grandma yet!
I want to hold grand babies soon..
he doesn't have any interest in little kids.
He lives in a condo...set up for seniors. ..everything on one floor. ..handicapped equipped if ever needed (his late wife did)...
I have a 100 year old cape cod style house...needs lots of updates. .have limited funds to do such...my late husband wanted to sell or rent it by now if still alive. ..and get a condo..was working on projects that are still undone before he died unexpectedly.

Yet we have alot in common. ..our faith...same interests. ..He has the patience of Job...he has such a calm secure way about himself. ..he knows himself....he is very funny. ..we have similar senses of humor...Ironically my late husband's sense of humor was completely opposite of mine....he had a short fuse at times...yet he was very outgoing ..loved large crowds...was intense...adventuresome. ..we did things I would never have done had I not met him...those times were wonderful. ...My new guy is very secure of himself. ..he is ok when I or we need to do our own thing. ..if I lunch with my friends. ..or just need space he is ok with that. ..my late husband had a hard time with this..why is a lunch date with girlfriends 3 hours and not just an hour...??? New guy says I know how it is...Working 12 hour days drove my late husband to total distraction. .new guy understands ....
Late husband loved dancing and parties like me...not so with new guy....

So as you can see...so many differences. ...both that I loved of each....
Before I met my husband I was more like my new guy. ...Late husband very opposite. .yet opened my life to so many things. ..all that I miss...and what that life was....

Don't get me wrong. ..I am not trying to compare. ..just missing what I had...
Yet like you my new guy and I feel we have something so special and hard to find ....and we both have learned how short life is and quickly things can change...etc...that we feel we should grab on and go for the ride....we don't want to miss out on what could be a great and wonderful life! !!
However. ..just trying to
" feel at home "with it all.....
Linda :)

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Hi Linda and thank you for your kind words and for sharing as well. It is comforting that other people struggle with this new life we are trying to create for ourselves and realizing its not just the crazy monkeys that got loose in my head some time in the past, that are creating havoc in my decision making process. I know myself well, have learned to accept my good points and my faults. One thing I know for sure, is I love to be in love, I loved sharing my life with someone and have discovered I want that in my life again. The statement of "moving on" or "letting go" of our previous existence, is so hard to understand the complexity of, until we attempt it. It effects every detail of our new life. It's a whole new part of the grief process. The new person we have brought into our life is different than our prior, things we did automatically for our prior partner, to love them, make them feel special, aren't needed or appreciated in the same way as our prior partner, and it's a whole new job learning the little nuances about our new partner, and letting go of those little things we used to do that we new was so important to our prior partner. It's getting used to not having, those special things our prior partner did for us, that innocently, I thought was just a natural thing all partners did for each other, but discovering those were learned behaviors in particular to the relationship we had and the knowing each other for many yrs. it's a whole new time frame of, little griefs and missings, oh yea, Chris doesn't automatically know to get me excedrin extra strength aspirin when I have a sick nauseous headache, Mike had to learn that. There are 1000s of those little situations that have to be relearned, and engrained in each other. It's little reminders of things we forgot about, only now being reminded when it's not there with our new partner. It hurts at times, these little stings as I call them, and those reminders of how much we loved each other, and now are still going thru that process of grief. No way to go thru this particular part without going into a new relationship. I was with Mike since the age of 16, we grew up together, learned how to become adults together, while learning how to be good partners to each other. And yet, I'm grateful. I'm so grateful for my life now. This is new over the past 3 yrs or so. I'm so grateful for Chris, I want to enjoy this and be a great partner to him. I so much want to help him and be supportive of his dreams, even to the end if it makes him need to move on from me. I learned over the past 8 yrs so much about appreciating today, trying not to worry about tomorrow, loving those in my life so much today, because tomorrow might not come. I understand this so much. Anyway enough for now. Take care. Hope you understand what I'm saying here, might just be a bunch of random thoughts. Lol.

Hi, Steve...when I read or hear from people who have new relationships, this reconciling of the new with the old seems to be a common theme.  I have friends who have met new people and they don't seem all that happy to have found someone new.  Sometimes the same old crap from dating when we were young happens again.  The women in particular tell of men who get too intense too fast and scare themselves to death and back off, so there is this constant pattern of embrace/rejection/embrace/rejection.  Yuck.  Who needs that?  I still remember that vividly from when I was young and how frustrating and baffling it was.  One of the things I loved about my husband when we were first dating was that he knew what he wanted.  We'd go out and he'd say, "What are you doing Tuesday?"  I never once had to wait for a call.  He never once got scared and backed off.  Sometimes later on when he became so difficult I forgot about that and I wish I hadn't.  Because it made a huge difference in how I felt about him. 

I know that as long as I would be comparing someone to him, I'm in no shape to welcome someone else into my life.  And like Maggie, without the immediacy of the difficult parts of my marriage in my face all the time, I'm better able to appreciate the good parts of what we had.  To add that kind of emotional chaos into my life?  Feh!

I'm 60 years old.  I'm financially independent.  I just don't want to deal with some guy's unresolved childhood baggage, fear of intimacy, sexual issues, tobacco addiction, drinking problem, emotional remoteness, financial problems, or child issues.  Sometimes I think I "should" start thinking about trying again and then I hear how people who are in new relationships feel like imposters in their own lives and I realize that I can have a perfectly happy life with good friends.  And if I can't, I'd better learn to. 

Hi Bergen, thanks for your reply. I know exactly what you mean and felt the same for yrs after Mike passed. My grandfather passed on the day he was to retire, after 40 yrs with his company, he was getting dressed in the morning to have breakfast, a big retirement party was planned that afternoon, my grandmother went upstairs to let him know breakfast was ready, and she found him on the floor, he had passed suddenly from a brain aneurysm. My grand parents had been married 35 yrs and my grandmother was 56 yrs old, grandfather was 60. Grandma lived to 86, never had a desire to date or remarry.
She got herself a condo, travelled the world with friends and enjoyed her life. I thought about her and the conversations we had, about why she didn't want to remarry, throughout my process and journey, and figured I would do the same. I never thought I would meet someone that would stir those romantic sweet thoughts again, stir those loving, caring thoughts again. It happened by accident. Since Mike was diagnosed with cancer, I have not known what I am doing. Have always had to shoot from the hip, and have faith everything will work out. It's a challenge either way. Learning to live single, and alone, or learning to live in a new relationship, for me. I think both have great benefits and challenges. Until one tries either situation, you can't really anticipate what challenges it will present, what beauty it will supply. One of the challenges I face, right now, is letting go of my old reality. It's so ingrained in me, so metabolic. I think I would be having the same challenge learning to live on my own, in different ways. This is just me. I always loved being married, loved being in love and never wanted to be single, prior to mikes passing. The joys for me outweighed the negatives. But, I have wished many times since Mike passed, that I could learn how to be 100% independent, and completely without need for intimacy and connection with a mate. Just needing and wanting to care for myself, no concerns or worry for a spouse. I can see the benefits to that. The freedom in that. I do enjoy my days when Chris is occupied with friends or family, and I have my day to myself. But I do look forward to him coming home. I like having someone to love and care for, take care of and someone to miss and care for me too. To share my life with. I see how wonderful Chris is, it's just trying to "re-set that place inside of me as home, that is the challenge for me.

Steve, this moving on is an interesting complexed set of issues that has had me soul searching for an extended period of time. There appears in my thoughts to be a multitude of dimensions in this part of the journey. If I listen to music there are lines that flash out the answers to some of a my thoughts regarding moving on .It was not until I met Ellen when she gently got me to listen to all the cool lines in the songs carefully that I realized what wealth there were in them. Before they were just cruising songs to crank up the radio while we lapped Central Avenue at various times in the night and speeds.

I take lines of songs to reinforce what I am looking for in a person to move on. If one just takes a simple song by the Monkies."I'm a Believer," there are a couple of lines that I find informative. Davy Jones states in one line "the more I put in the less I got out". I sure do not need that. The other "Saw her face and now I am a believer." Yes, I saw her face and I was a believer for over twenty-six married years,and STILL AM.

Now when Ann Murray sings "You Needed Me"..... She did and that another area that made me a Believer. The words inner-lock from one song to another that aids in building thoughts about the next lady in my life, if it is ever meant to be. I love listening to Shania Twain and Olivia Newton. They both have a lot in their music that makes me think about Believer #2, again if they even exists. If not I will walk it alone.

Up until now probably everyone that reads this post would understand what I am stating. If I listen to the Hollies, "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" brings tears in my eyes, Most people would not know why, but Ellen would understand totally. That brings up the second part those who would not take the time to learn ones past,I would not want them in my future. That is why in any relationship there are connections of thought that need a nurtured/caring way into a relationship.. In short patience in communications.

This area brings out another dimension that is challenging. Years of specials shared events and moments that one wants to reflect back with the person that is gone. It is hard to place those special thoughts or feeling into a future relationship, and obviously they have them to share as well. Even at that, it seems they do not have the same emotional shared charge as the original couple looking back on them.

I guess the point is prayer and music helps me re-establish my footing in this type of thought to the best I am able to do. Also you made me reflect back on that topic today.

David

Hi David, thanks for your reply. I am very touched and comforted by music and lyrics too. I was very affected by a song by Whitney Houston titled "look to you". It was one of the last songs she recorded before she passed. A lot of those lyrics I identify with so much relating to the darkest times in my life after Mike passed. A lot of people don't know her story, or they just see the jokes and crap put out in media, but she was a very loving, caring sweet gentle person, very gifted and generous. A dear friend of mine was her driver for many yrs and he shared her story with me a lot thru the yrs. then when she passed I was so sorry to hear it, my friend was so upset, and I came across this song. When I heard it, I just related to the lyrics so much. There are many other songs with the same effect on me. I actually wake up with songs in my head, sometimes they only are there for a short while sometimes all day. I have always had this, and after Mike passed I began to realize that Mike spoke to me through this gift. I pay close attention to songs that are in my head out of the blue, they usually are related to stuff I'm troubled about, our it just a loving or uplifting message. Take care, and thank you.
Steve, are you planning to attend Camp widow San Diego? It's a beautiful setting and you would find kindred souls to talk with about this very issue. I'd love to attend this year - but a lot going on and I live on the east coast... Just wondering though ... If I do go- I'd love to see you!
Hi Diane, no I'm not planning on attending, however, if you do attend, I would love to meet you near or in your hotel for lunch or dinner. Just a thought. I have mom living with me now and my caretaker that helps me with her has been very unreliable lately, I am in process of finding someone new. I can only leave mom for 3-4 hrs at a time. I'm about an hrs drive from downtown San Diego if that is where the event is. Hope you are well :)

We hold a Widowed Village meetup on Thursday afternoon at the hotel pool bar that you could stop by, Steve.  We start gathering around 4pm and some end up staying there most of the night, some will wander off to get something to eat.  It's a great way to meet those you've gotten acquainted with here in Widowed Village and some other Campers, too. And the San Diego pool bar area is really fabulous. 

Hi Diane and thank you. Do you know the name of the hotel where the event is taking place ?

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