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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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After my husband died I moved to another city and bought a house. I had to buy furniture and do some major remodeling. I was 72 years old. Scared the living-bejesus outta me! That was almost five years ago. Now, looking back, I see  they were some of the healthiest things I could ever have done. Almost fifty years of marriage (with the last sixteen as primary caregiver) I had lost the sense of who I was. This was an important part of teaching myself to stand on my own two feet again. I didn't lose him; I haven't forgotten him. Widowhood is not something I ever wanted, but I want to make the most of what is left of my life. So, kenslove, and others reading this, take the risk, keep healthy, and stand proud!!!

Thanks barbee for this inspirational post.  I too wish to embrace moving forward in life. - Peace.

When I accepted Sharon was dead I found that many of my hopes, dreams and expectations no longer made sense and I set about dismantling them. During that time I found it difficult to sustain motivation to do anything; I was studying a music course with the Open University when she died, I tried to carry it on but I just couldn’t bring myself to care about the assignments enough to see them though so I ended up dropping out. 

To cope with this I took up projects that I could pick up when I had the energy and drop at will; one was teaching myself to play the ukulele, I could practice (or not) when I felt like it, but I still got the sense of movement in my life as I learnt new songs; another was doing the London to Brighton bike ride, preparing for it just involved spending time riding my bike and afterwards I’d done something I always thought of trying.  Projects like these helped me feel like I was living my life even as I was dismantling who I was.

After I’d dismantled the hopes and dreams that I’d built up with Sharon rebuilding them was like a second adolescence. I looked back at the things I wanted to do but never got round to, and as my ability to care about things again grew I chose things to care about doing. The first big commitment was an introductory counselling course (having spent so long reflecting on life on my own I wanted something that would make me connect with new people).

The commitments built up over time, I’m now married again with an infant son and studying a part-time PhD. I’m not a person that the past me who was in love with Sharon would have wanted to become, but I’m happy to be the person that I am.

Congratulations, Patrick. You also have an excellent vocabulary to describe both the situation of being widowed and the process of continuing to live. [One of my "milestones" was transitioning from using "our" to "my".]

I believe that I'm still in the "dismantling" stage (and after all this time it *still* feels like a Herculean task some days--but, OTOH, I am also coping.), but I can report that I took up traveling. Six continents down, one to go. I suppose this qualifies as a "new dream". ;-)

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