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I was married for 51 years when DH died 12-1-2015.  2 months later I was diagnosed with uterine cancer and required surgery.  Our 54 year anniversary is this month, and it saddens me to think about all the things he's missed the past 3 years.

4 months after he died, I filled out the paperwork to volunteer at the local VA medical center.  He died there, so it was for me the logical place to volunteer and to have the opportunity to pay back to all those that cared for him the last 10 years of his life.

I work 2 days a week as a concierge and am now also adding a day or 2 per week to work at the new VA drug and alcohol treatment center.

I discovered early on sitting in the house, wishing for all the things of my past to come back was only going to drive me into a dark, lonely and scary place.  I tried hard those first few months  (for some unknown reason) to keep my days and weeks on the same schedule....go to the grocery store like WE always did, get the car washed like WE always did....all of this only drove me deeper and deeper into the black lagoon of depression.

I've joined a church and with amazing gratitude have found a Sunday school class of about 95% widows.  Some have been widowed for over 25-30 years.  What a joy to have them in my life.

One of the best comments I was told when I asked one of the long time ones if you ever get over it said: You never get over it, but it changes.  I see now that year 3 is far different than year one, and somehow by putting one step in front of the other my life has gone on.

Now, I've done bus trips to places I've always wanted to go, I've flown twice to Florida to visit friends (reservations made for 2019 already).  I manage to jump around the house hollering " I'm a big girl now". I'm a big girl and handled a $8700 repair to the house.  Called the plumber 3 times, GE appliance has been here 2 times, Overhead garage door twice, bought 2 new cars, drive 400 miles each way to visit son and his family.  Make sure the CPA does the taxes, financial advisor is a blessing and he doesn't laugh at me.  I've rearranged the house, bought $5K worth of accessories and furniture as I've made this house MY home.  It is not a shrine to my past.

Some of my comments may sound harsh, but I've been there & done that. My Dh was gone, my life as I knew it was over and wasn't coming back.  it was suddenly up to me to find a life for myself, and that life didn't involve staying forever in the dark place I found myself.  Instead it was c'mon Carol, let's get moving

I'm a little late on replying on the subject of building a new/different life; catching up on normal stuff after returning from a trip, and right now recovering from having a dental implant placed.  The anaesthetic is starting to wear off!   

When I think back, my family culture when things go bad has always been, "This sucks but I can't change it so what do I do now?"  I did have quite a few separate interests from Ron and have expanded some:  more time at the gym, more time bicycling the Katy Trail near our favorite B&B (Ron had given up bicycling years ago), more wandering in interesting cities (when we'd traveled together in the last years we tried to be careful not to get lost because Ron wore out easily).  Everyday stuff:  your list will undoubtedly vary but it's an example of the types of things that keep me engaged with other humans and gets me out of the house.  Toastmasters once a week.  Plenty of church-related stuff and they'd gladly let me sign up for more!   Everything from being on the Finance Committee to maintaining the Web site to baking cookies for Coffee Hour.   Studying for a Lay Preaching License at the local College for Ministry.  The Garden Club once a month.  A French discussion group that meets every couple of weeks or so,  the HOA Board.  I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

MeetUp is a good place to find groups with interests similar to yours- I haven't found any widows/widowers groups that looked interesting but just joined one for International Travelers.  You'll find groups focused on hiking, crafts, dining out- just about anything.   

As Bobcatkitty said, we may not WANT to build a new life but things have changed and we have to.  It's up to you to decide what shape you want it to take.  There are times when I DO feel un-coupled in a world of couples- when traveling or in a restaurant- but if the alternative is just hibernating at home, I'd rather go out and experience the world

Take an art, cooking, sewing, cake decorating. Knitting, computer or photography class, travel, exercise, volunteer at schools, hospitals, shelters, etc., garden, join a book club or a meetup for widows or maybe one that relates to one of your other interests.  I understand how you feel because I lost my best friend too, and I don’t have a lot of friends either because it was just him and me, and we liked it that way. We were married 30 years - together since high school. I lost him 20 months ago. He wouldn’t want me to stop living. You’re still here and he would want you to make the most of it too. It isn’t easy, but you are stronger than you realize. Keep moving forward.

K.

My husband and I did not have any close friends either.  Like you, we did everything together.  My husband was retired and our plan was for me to retire this December so we could start our "retirement bucket list" together.  Last Valentines Day he gave me a metal sign that says "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be"...that sign hangs in our living room.  So....I am still working, trying to decide if I want to go through with my retirement plan.  Coming to work does get me out of the house but I really do not want to be there.  I have started to look at what do I want to do if I retire...I am researching volunteer opportunities that interest me, projects in the house I want to do, community groups to join (though I am something of an introvert, never been a joiner), exercise classes, meditation classes...anything that interests me and would fill my days.  I am "only" 57...soon to be 58,  and I know I potentially have a lot of years ahead of me.  I want to figure out how to live life and not just exist.  This is not the path we had planned for but it is the path we have been put on so I will continue to try to figure it out one step at a time. 

Continue to reach out...there is a lot of wisdom and caring on this forum.

Hugs,

JB 

Thank you for your inspiring post. I’m 20 months in, and I am beginning to reclaim and rebuild my life. You give me hope,

K.

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