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Dear Widowed Village Community,

I lost my husband in October last year and I found that whenever I have a few consecutive days off, I have difficulties structuring my days.

This first happened to me a few weeks ago when I was at home for three weeks due to a heavy cold and now with the Coronavirus shutting everything down it's also almost impossible to get out of the house. My workplace is currently working on a system that we have two shifts in the office and one week the first shift works, next week the second shift. I'm already scared of being home alone for a complete week. I live alone with my two cats and I don't really enjoy it at the moment.

I thought I should try to give my day some structure, to not just lounge about the whole day. But I don't even know what I should do the whole day. I can't stop thinking that the situation would be easier if my husband was still alive, at least I wouldn't be alone and we could come up with activities for the day together.

Today I feel kind of paralyzed, not having a lot of energy and although I could clean the kitchen I just don't feel really up to it.

Maybe you have some ideas for me, how you are coping with living alone and structuring your day by yourself?

Tanne

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Tanne:

Working out of the house is not as easy as everyone thinks. If you can't get out how about putting in some extra hours, even if you are not compensated? Hopefully this will keep your mind focused on something other than your personal reality.

I agree that it would be much better and even fun to be sharing this "lock up" with your spouse. Janet's cat is here and all she does is sleep but it still nice to have her to talk to. If she starts talking back I know it's time to get out of the house.

I think these boards will be start to get more active given the Coronovirus situation.

Rich

Hi Rich,

it's not necessarily that I don't have things to do. I should start my bachelor thesis slowly but surely. It's more like I'm having difficulties bringing structure in my days that I can use over and over again so I don't have to start each day new thinking about what I should do on that day and when. Because I feel like the more time I'm spending on what I should do the more anxious I get because I want to find the "best" thing I could do and obviously the more I think about it, the more pros and cons appear...

Tanne

Hello Tanne,

I lost my wife in October of 18 and right around 6 months, March/April of last year 2019 I felt a lot like you posted above. I had those same feelings of wanting structure but not knowing what to do all day. Feelings of being paralyzed, of not having a lot of energy and of not really being up to any task.

One Saturday morning was particularly bad and yes there was a kitchen to be cleaned.

What I did and what I continue to do at times was simply to focus on one small task, not a large activity and not the whole day. Then I would spend the day just taking care of the next task. I found I could clean the kitchen just not all at once, instead one small task at a time and mixed in with other chores like dusting another room, doing part of the bathroom cleaning, starting a load of laundry.

It actually was very unstructured but I kept lists and at the end of those Saturdays I actually accomplished a lot and had the good feeling of having done so.

It was for a while the only thing that worked for me, just taking the next little thing.

Pricytapestry:

I've been remodeling our 20 year old house, building farm sheds, installing fencing and any other project I can find for the past 4 years. For me it's good therapy and at the end of the day I'm too tired for much else. 

Rich

Hi pricytapestry,

it's interesting that although grief is different for everybody, sometimes grief follows the same timeline. I got told that it would get worse around half a year after but I couldn't imagine how. Now I know it, because at the beginning there was so much bureaucracy and I was very happy to just lie on my couch, watch TV and doing nothing else whereas now I feel like I should do something again with my days and I feel stuck.

Did your Saturdays evolve naturally with your approach? I mean, did you see during cleaning the kitchen that there was a room that needed dusting and just did it? Because for me I feel like if I need to think about what I could do I struggle and my anxiety rises, so I'm curious how that worked out for you.

Tanne

Hi Tanne,

It mostly evolved naturally. I knew I needed to clean and do housekeeping and was struggling with motivation. So I just focus on one small thing I need to do and motivate myself to do that one task. I might say, I need to clean the bathroom, but I only worry about cleaning the bathtub, and focus on that one small part of that room. I do the same with yard work and even at my job. I have found that even 18 months out I simply cannot focus on anything to big but can do a lot if I just work on the next small thing and bounce around from small task to small task. I hope that makes sense.

There is plenty to do and if I think about the long list it just gets overwhelming and then none of it happens. So I just think about the one small thing I am doing at the moment.

Hi Tanne-first off, I am sorry you have lost your husband.I've been through this twice, lost two spouses to cancer, six years apart.

I retired early so my wife and I could travel, and less than a year later, she died. There I was twiddling my thumbs.  It was difficult. More than the loss of structure, for me, it was a loss of identity. Now, three and a half years later, I am becoming comfortable that I am a single widower, and that's okay,

I don't like it, I never will, but there are some good things in life now too. I mean that!

I accept that I am not the only person widowed, lives alone, and doesn't like the nights (that time of the day is the hardest for me). I thought I was the only person on earth that was hurting, and when we grieve, it is a very personal, individual experience.

Ya-it would be easier if our spouses were around during a time like this. It stinks. But I accept it for today-lol.

I think it's okay not to clean the kitchen, the bathroom, empty the garbage. When it gets bad enough, you'll do it. 

You are not alone. I mean that.

And I am sorry; I know how it hurts.

Hi soulmate,

thank you for your words! Yes, sometimes it feels like being completely alone. I'm only 28, I barely have any singles among my friends, most are busy with their partners or founding families so I realise over and over again that my situation is not normal (well, then again, which situation is?). I have to admit that these days the mornings are the hardest for me. Because in the evening I'm okay with sitting in front of the TV and let's say "being entertained". It's most difficult in the mornings because then I have a whole day ahead of me that I don't want to spend in front of the TV completely but I also can't really say what I need for myself during that day...

Tanne,

It sounds to me like you could benefit from a loose structure and some sort of master list (but that may be because I love lists, myself). Here's an example of the type of thing I mean:

8-9am, normal morning routine (grooming, coffee, whatever you would do on a workday etc)
9-11am: Inside house chores
11-12: outside house chores
12-1: lunch
1-3pm: school work/long term goals
3-5pm: hobby time
5-6pm: dinner
6-8pm: social time
8-11pm: relax, then bedtime routine

Then, you can have choices for each of these, like a list of chores that need to be done regularly indoors, and you can either just pick the top one and work your way down or do whatever seems easiest.

Also, remember to give yourself a break if something seems too hard. It's okay to skip things.

I hope this helps a bit.

Hi Melissa,

I really like your idea! Just giving the day some basic structure so I don't struggle during the day deciding what to do next.

I hate feeling this insecurity whenever I'm trying to decide what to do only because I want to figure out the "best" possible option. Maybe I should just start with that loose structure and trust that my life will be back on track eventually :)

Thank you so much

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