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We're friends, not doctors, financial or legal professionals, and we're not "grief experts." But we are here, and we've been "there."

For 25 years, I was Ken's girl.  Before that, I was a daughter, a divorcee and a single mom.  For the past year and a half, I have been a widow.

Now, for the first time ever, I am ready to be me.  Its so hard to let go of my past identities.  I've never had an identity which was based mostly on me before.

I am still a mother and a grandmother, and it's a huge part of my life. But all of the day by day decisions- those are all mine now.  What to watch on TV, when to go to bed, what color to paint the bathroom.

I wish there was a way to hang on to my identify as Ken's love.  But widowhood has become a dead end.  One foot in the grave (his) and one fit in the present doesn't leave any option for moving into the future.

As I try to arrange my house, my life, my closet, etc. to be 'mine,' I am feeling the pain of loss all over again.  Even though the things I hang on to don't bring him back or give me comfort like they used to, its still hard to let go.

I would love to hear how others coped with the 'next step' of moving forward!

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Good question! I'll be watching this with interest! I keep busy with all sorts of activities; hiking, gardening, volunteer work and my part time job. I enjoy meeting and chatting with people in my travels... :-)
Kenslove, there is no timetable for grief. We can't just move on by making changes until our hearts have healed enough so as not to create more pain. My advice, don't push too hard. Maybe in another six months to a year you will be more ready. It's easier to let go of things when we are "ready" emotionally. That is the way in which I coped. It took me three years until I was able to go through a lot of his things but I felt I had to wait until I could do it without crying. It may have taken me longer than most people but it made the process a whole lot less painful.

I still can't get used to the word "widow".   It reminds me of sorrowful figures dressed in black. I've just decided that that's ONE of the many things I am- Mom, Grandma, a retired actuary, an avid bicyclist and traveler, a gym rat- and a widow.  None of those terms alone defines me.

I shifted gears fairly easily after Ron died.  I've spent plenty of time trying to figure out why.  It will be a year next Wednesday, though, and I still haven't felt the crushing, paralyzing grief that hits most of the people here so maybe it never will.  In my case, I was 15 years younger and Ron had chronic health issues so I think I had one eye on the horizon as we thoroughly enjoyed the present.  Ron and I traveled to over a dozen countries together and now I'm starting to explore the warm climates because he couldn't tolerate the heat.  I went to Central America in April and will go to India and Nepal in March.  I've donated a lot of his things (still have more to go) but will never throw out everything- in fact, I'm wearing one of his comfortable flannel shirts over my T-shirt today.  I've taken on a few more outside activities although I think I'm pushing up against my limit- I've got something on my schedule every day this week.

It's a process- I agree with Callie2 that you shouldn't let go of things until you're ready.  It took me awhile to get rid of Ron's power tools but they were ones I had no plan to use and I'm practical enough that I hated to see them sitting idle.

Thanks for sharing this, Athena53.  My soulmate was also 14 years my senior and we too lived very much "in the moment."  We all can gain much from integrating all those parts of our personalities and embracing the future best we can. Peace.

Hi Athena!

   I didn't have the paralyzing grief many speak of either. Could it be that we had what is called Anticipatory Grief?  When some say how deeply they are grieving, and I don't feel it THAT deep. It makes feel guilty for some reason.

Regards,

Susan

I know what you mean, Susan.  I've been over and over it and I guess it's the way I'm wired and the discussions Ron and I had before he died as well as anticipatory grief.  I'd also been able to keep up outside activities till almost the very end, so I had a life to go back to.

Before he died I booked a cruise in Central America; that was in October and the doctor said Ron probably wouldn't live past the first of the year.  Ron didn't tolerate hot weather well and when I told him I'd booked it he was happy for me, bless him.  He died a month later.  The trip turned out to be just what I needed.

Athena,

    I'm glad you enjoyed the cruise. Maybe Ron somehow knew you would need the trip. 

    Since Paul and I knew way ahead of time what was coming. We did have time for planning things. I felt like a robot going through the actions of signing papers etc. 

    So far the only trip I took alone was to go to San Diego. I really doubt if I'll travel during the winter, but you never know.

Take Care Of Yourself,

Susan

Ron and I were/are both avid travelers so yes, Ron knew it would be good for me.  I've done plenty of business travel on my own so I'm used to finding my way around places.

I hadn't thought of it but I did a lot of the "signing papers" stuff- transferring the cars over to my name before he died, filing for a small pension of mine and having him sign off on the amount without Survivor Benefit, etc.  It does make you realize what's coming and maybe that helped, too.

Hi!

   That's the sort of thing we did. Signing car & truck in my name. plus all finances in my name. It kind of hurt to sign them though.

Susan

Hi Kenslove,

   Many Identities! I think we all have them. I was first a daughter, Paul's Girlfriend, Then I became his wife. Now he's in Heaven and I'm here.  I KNOW that is called being a widow. But to me Widow is worse then F-word. I don't care for it. That being said, just what else are we? There must be a nicer name for us.

   On Dec. 7th. Paul will have been in Heaven for a year. I'm now trying to make my house my home, AGAIN. It actually makes me feel better to put SOME of the things that away that represent Paul's life. But not the pictures. Those stay! I'm talking about THINGS. Like his awards, Hunting paraphernalia  etc.

   Now that I'm a Grand Mere, my Grandson hears about his Grandpa all of the time. Even though he isn't even 1 month old yet ;-) 

   When I first gave away a lot of his clothes to people in the Houston Hurricanes, I'm now wondering what I should do with the rest of things. There are SOME articles I can't part with. Like his Flannel Shirts. I wear those in the house. We both worked at a place called Cincinnati Music Hall. I still our uniforms from there. And he so many power tools. There is NO way I can get rid of those.  Maybe I'll learn to use them. ( Look Out World ;-) ) 

   I agree with Athena53, It takes time. And everyone is different.

Regards,

Susan

Some things I will never get rid of.  Photos are top of that list.  I also wear some of Ken's clothes- the ones that fit.  I have also been getting rid of the paperwork from our business, which I shut down shortly after he died. Still, its hard to find the balance between cherishing the past and embracing the future.

Ken got me a double wide trailer just before his death.  When I decided to have it painted to make it 'mine,' it was frightening that the idea of picking colors without thinking of anyone else's preference was so daunting.  At 55, it was the first time I ever got to make a decision that was all for me.

Good Morning Kenslove,

     I know what you mean by making decisions on your own. When I decided to replace our old sofa/recliner with a smaller love seat, I actually turned around to ask Paul for what he thought about the color I chose. Then it hit me again. He's not here.

     I wish I was good at painting. I want to repaint a couple of rooms.

Regards,

Susan

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