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How old were you when your spouse died? How does your age affect your self-concept now that you're on your own?

I'm interested in hearing from widows and widowers of all ages to know what it's like to be a certain age when you have your loss. We have widows and widowers of all ages here on Widowed Village and we all must have some different viewpoints depending on our age.

 

So I was 44 when my husband died in '06. I felt surrounded by intact families with moms and dads..and I was out of place and out of sync with my friends who were no longer single but also had never experienced being widowed. I felt so different from everyone else. I felt like a lonely loser at times. I hated going to my children's school events alone or to social activities.

 

I also felt too young to want to be without a partner, so I wanted to date and to be part of a couple again. But I felt like being in my mid-40s was a terrible age to be single because there would be no one to date who wasn't either divorced after only being married briefly or a little old to still be single. Also, it was hard to talk to my friends about dating. They were mostly in mid-life marriages and didn't really want to hear about my dating...so that felt a little lonely too. No one to compare notes with. I felt like I wished I didn't have to date again, yet I think it made some of my friends a little jealous to think of me getting to do that again. Again, I felt very out of sync with my peers.

 

I also felt like it was terrible to lose my husband after we had done the hard work of raising young children and then they were just at an age where travelling and doing stuff with them would be so much easier now that they weren't really little anymore.

 

I felt like it was unlikely I would ever find someone else again.

 

 

 

 

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Yes Sissy...it spread when by all accounts, it shouldn't have. The primary tumor shrank with Chemo and radiation and we thought we were set for surgery that would take care of it. But when they began surgery this was not the case. Believing we had the hope of a cure from the start made the discovery of the spread feel so cruel. We had 4 months of hope only to have that rug jerked out from under us. It caused me to feel a good bit of anger in my first month.

Here is something I wrote and sent to places for Drs. to read. Asking that they no more tell people that certain things can not happen. 

In July of 2015, we were told that Paul had Glioblastoma Multiforme Grade 4... It was removed the next day... We were then told that he WILL get more tumors, but they would always be contained in / on the brain.

 

    He went on the pill form of  chemotherapy and also radiation treatments for close to a year. That Summer & Fall was great. But when it was time for him to stop the treatments, he was fine for about 3 weeks. Within those 3 weeks, everyone noticed that his health was going down hill. He went on a 3 mile walk almost everyday.. But soon had to stop. He had to use a walker and we would just walk on the sidewalk in front of our house.

 

  On Thanksgiving Day of 2016 ... I just thought to myself, " I can't let this go on... SOMETHING has to help him "... So we took him to U.C. Hospital in Cincinnati. We were there for a week. Nothing could be done. And Hospice became involved. ... When they asked him once what he wanted, he said " Home & Christmas ".. So we went home, and decorated for Christmas. He was already in a hospital bed in the family room that Hospice set up for him... And I had a twin bed on the other side of the Family Room so I could be with him. Every day his speaking ability was a little less.  I think Hospice was with us for about week or so.

 

Needless to say, My husband went to Heaven on Dec. 7th. 2016.

 

  Please don't believe it when a Dr. tells you that tumors WILL NOT SPREAD or Be contained within the brain. Paul's Glioblastoma got in his spinal fluid. His Dr. said that She has only seen this happen once before. Yes, it's rare, but not impossible.

 

THINGS TO WATCH FOR :

 

Watch for a big difference in personality. He sometimes got angry or a little mean, but did not mean it. He would also repeat things and not realize it. (That was something he never did.)

 

When he walks, always watch for his legs not to pick up.

 

His legs would slowly get numb. Starting at the top of his legs.

 

Watch to see how often they go to the bathroom. (When tumors got on his spine, he lost a of feeling below the belt.)

 

His lower back would hurt a lot.

 

His GAIT, when he would walk just wasn't normal. It was off. It kind of looked like toddler learning to walk. Not quite steady.

 

I'm sure there are other things, but I just can't think of them right now.

 

I hope this helps someone.

 

Love & Prayers,

Susan

Hi SpringLight,

Esopogeal Cancer can be a sneaky one. Steve was diagnosed last August. Scans indicated no sign of spread and we proceeded with treatment prior to scheduling surgery. All appeared to be going well until the day of the surgery when they discovered spread that had not shown up on any scans. This was Jan 5th and he was given months...he passed away March 2nd...less than 2 months later. I can't begin to describe the emotions from the day we learned we were going home to die rather than going home having had potentially curative surgery. That night was probably the worst for me because I had to tell him when he woke up from surgery that things were not as we planned and hoped. His decline from that point was swift and painful so there was some degree of relief that he was released from the pain but the loss after the initial days of numbness has seemed unbearable. I not only lost my husband (best friend, soul mate, etc.), but I also lost myself...or at least the person I had been for the past 24 years..1/2 of an "us" that no longer exists. I am so sorry for your loss and your pain.
Dear Averysmom,

I understand the unbearable pain you are experiencing. The feeling of being shipwrecked. After my husband's initial diagnosis, we went on dates. During one of our museum trips, I came across the following quote by a French painter named Eugene Delacroix who wrote that "each of the beings necessary to our existence who disappears, takes away with him a whole world of feelings that no other relationship can revive."

Your husband is special in a way that no one else can ever be. And so are you. Your husband matters. And you matter too. You are important. You are special in a way that no one else is.

I hate that you feel so alone. I wish I could help you to carry the burden of the pain you are experiencing. I'm glad that you are reaching out and participating in this group

"I not only lost my husband (best friend, soul mate, etc.), but I also lost myself...or at least the person I had been for the past 24 years..1/2 of an 'us' that no longer exists."

Averysmom -- I read your description and felt like it could've been written by me; it's precisely how I feel. 

My wife of 25 years (and better half, soulmate, best friend, favorite person, etc.) was unexpectedly diagnosed with an equally "sneaky" cancer -- never-smoker's lung cancer -- in August of 2015.  Three weeks later, I had to break the news to her that the doctors had done everything possible, but that they wanted he to move into a hospice room to spend her last few days in more comfort than the cardiac ICU.  I felt like I was her executioner, despite her doing nothing but trying to comfort me.  

She surprised everyone by pulling through that episode, and she was strong enough to receive her first dose of chemo in the ICU the next day.  A few weeks later, she was discharged and we had 8 more months together as she received chemo, radiation and other therapies as an outpatient, before finally losing her battle on May 8 of last year. 

At the time, I felt utterly isolated from the world, and completely disinterested in life; the only thing keeping me alive was momentum.  I probably would've ended my own life but for the fact that I still had things to do to for her (burial, memorial service, grave plantings, monument, etc.) and I didn't want to impose even more grief on those who cared about us.

I'm gradually finding more purpose in life, and the grief consumes me a little bit less than it did.  I still break down at least once a day, and a future without her seems inconceivable.  But being able to talk about it in a place like this does seem to help.  And having found a very good therapist has been huge for me.

You're doing all the "right" things, RCH. (And good for you for finding a good therapist, too! More of us guys need to do that.)

I lost count of the number of tissue boxes I went through in the first few weeks. Like you, I seriously considered ending things during the first year (on more than one occasion)--and yet, here I still am, almost six years later. I hit my sixth year on the evening of July 20th. You are on to something about finding a new purpose in life. It also sounds that the path on which you are proceeding is working for you, so I'd suggest you continue. (FWIW, I was 54 when Judith died, and she was 53.) 

RCH I am so sorry for your loss and all the pain. I am so happy you had a few more months together. I know every minute was precious. I understand why you felt like an executioner delivering the news as I had to tell Steve when he came out from under anesthesia that they were unable to perform the surgery and we Were looking at months..it wound up being two. I am happy to hear that you have gradually found more purpose in life. My Steve was my purpose and as I am only two months in,obviously I am struggling. I have a wonderful support system in friends, family and our church family but none of them is Steve. We were not perfect people but were perfectly suited for one another and losing that kind of relationship is....well it actually defies description.

I appreciate what everyone else has said. We all have to make our own decisions on dating, etc.  At fourteen months I cannot fathom the idea of anyone every measuring up to my Morris, my soul mate. That's just me. I, too, have lost friends that are married or in relationships, and some treated me like Typhoid Mary when I was around their husbands/SOs (like any of them could ever match what my Morris gave me! Gack.)  That cut like a knife, but I got used to it, and avoided those insecure, idiotic women. Some men were way, way too friendly, and I avoided them, too. I know how to give someone the cold shoulder. Still hurt, though.

I'm 52 and at this juncture I cannot see myself even bothering to date (which sounds like an absolute nightmare nowadays), let alone getting married. I'm absolutely disgusted with the Universe right now, so I don't expect it to send me anything good. I wish everyone here hope on their journey, I've given up on it for right now. 

happylilycat wrote "I cannot fathom the idea of anyone every measuring up to my Morris, my soul mate...(like any of them could ever match what my Morris gave me!)

YES.  I'm 53 and my Kelly was 50 when she died 12 months ago.  That puts me in the demographic group that is very likely to remarry, and within 2 years (that's the average).  When I went to my first grief support group, a few months after her death, I was speaking with the facilitator and she said that the number one question that she gets asked by widowers is "how soon is it OK to start dating?"  I was stunned by that!  What kind of man loses his wife and then looks to replace her as soon as possible?!  Then it occurred to me: (a) obviously, men who didn't care as much about their wives as I did about mine, and (b) men whose wives weren't as amazing and wonderful as my Kelly was.  No other person could possibly have her unique qualities, or so closely match my ideal.


I've seen firsthand how things so often go with remarriages; my mother and my father's brother were each happily married for more than 50 years.  My uncle remarried two years later, and soon regretted it.  My mother got into other romantic relationship one year after my father died, and also regrets it.  I asked her why she decided to do so and her explanation was "I need to feel loved".  Well, she felt loved every day from my father, for 53 years.  Shouldn't that count for something?  No doubt remarriage works out for some people (especially those who didn't have happy marriages), but it seems to me that it's fraught with risk -- not only within one's own relationship, but also to family and friends who resent the new partner, and perhaps worse, to the memory and respect for the person lost.  I know that it's likely that I would be comparing anyone new to Kelly (even if only unconsciously) and that she would perceive that and resent it.  And I know that I would lose my self-respect if I didn't remain faithful to Kelly's memory; my memories of her would be forever tainted by regret and feelings of betrayal. 

So instead, I'm trying to focus on the happy memories, on keeping Kelly's memory alive to her friends and family, on commemorating her and beautifying her resting place, and on becoming more of the person that she saw me to be.  I think that will go a long ways towards comforting the part of me that feels so isolated and adrift.

Well I am a wee tad older than you are (age 62) but my husband and I were both 58 when he died.  (It is weird to me now that I continue to get older and he is forever 58.  And the newest good photo I have of him is from maybe 2007 so he smiles out at me from age 52).  But from the widowers I have seen, I do think that men look to replace as early as possible.  For some reason, men seem lost after being widowed.  We always think of men as the capable ones, but I think in our society we really underestimate the contributions wives make to marriages.  

I'm not just talking about things like cooking and housework, though those are important.  Now most marriages aren't like mine, where I did just about everything -- the cleaning, cooking, writing the checks for the bills, hiring the contractors, making sure the cars went in for service, etc.  Looking back and knowing now that my husband had had at least one bad stroke and probably multiple TIAs, I think his executive functioning may have been impaired for much of the time we were together.  But even in marriages where the logistics of life are split 50-50, I think women do the EMOTIONAL work of a marriage.  And since men tend not to have the kinds of deep friendships that most women have, they are even more bereft after being widowed.  We women have friends over for coffee and cookies and spend hours talking.  Men tend not to do this, and if they do, it is often in a darkened bar accompanied by the diversion of sports and beer.  So men need to have that person to carry the emotional weight.

Even though my marriage wasn't great (we were well-suited, but that my husband had these difficulties that drove me crazy, that he wasn't aware of, and that were probably physical), I know that anyone else I was with would be constantly compared to him.  And truthfully, I would have absolutely no idea what I would be looking for.

There are couples where both have been widowed where they manage to find a place for everyone -- almost like a marriage of four people.  I admire those people, because they have the self-confidence to make room for both the departed and the new.  I don't have that.  I would hate to feel I was being compared to a ghost, and it would not be fair for me to do the same.

Photos of my husband have a prominent place in my living space even though he never lived here and the people I know now never met him.  I find it a comfort to share this new life with him in this small way.  You may find the same.

Robert:

Couldn't agree with you more. 

Rich

Jill:  I was 49 when my husband died.  I joined a social group at church.  There was one other single woman there, she left.  Then I left.  Being around couples was too hard.

Your words "lonely loser" is exactly how I felt.  I felt LOSER was stamped all over me.  Everyone I knew was a couple, so of course we dumped quickly.  At first I thought how can I do another 50 of life, alone? My family lives way too long.  I tried dating sites & talked to other women who did some dating, Oh the horror stories.  I pray if there is a man out there God will bring him to me.  It will 4 years next month & I have just told myself I have to accept it's just me & my pets, I have to make a life a & accept this is it.  Unless God provides a miracle & there is an actual nice, christian gentleman out there for me.

I still notice couples at the mall, but I don't get as mad & jealous anymore.

I'm not happy with my life, I just try to accept it.

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