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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."

Today I only spoke to one person that being the person who answered the phone at the call centre where my warranty insurance is for the refrigerator.  She told me the repair person "should" be able to come on Wednesday.  So I will turn it on and off manually and keep it empty until then.  Just as well I found the original paperwork eh?

It makes it very lonely when the only person you speak to is a service person but with the house on the bottom side not tenanted and the owner of the house on the top side away today it was a very quiet day.  I can always jump in the car and go somewhere if I crave company but I was determined to do some of the inside work and got quite a bit done. The floors certainly look a lot cleaner and the handmarks on the back glass door are no more.

All of it seems such a waste of time though.  I tidied the toys the grandchildren play with so rarely now. I went through the cupbords to see what I need to replace - food for one does not take up a lot of space.  I have the freezer for food storage in case I have visitors but I don't have a lot of those now.  I realise that if I go on as a single person this is the way it will be - a quiet and sometimes solitary life.

There is no pattern to my life now.  I can impose some by joining things, fill my calendar with "play dates" more commonly coffee mornings or church lunches, but that all seems a bit futile sometimes, more like filling in time than in having a REAL life.  Not that I could really tell you what a real life would look like now.  If I was still working age I guess that would be a job, but now I am retired any volunteer work is seen more as a hobby and where there is no pay there is often no thanks either.

I wonder how long it will take me to fill up my life again?  I have said before I don't want activity for the sake of activity, I want something that can use at least some of my talents.  Not that I am really sure how that can happen as for the past 14 years, up to the time of Ray's death, I had looked after an invalid husband, and initially my parents.  I felt like a Super Cinderella, houswife and nurse and "mother", advisor, driver, so many roles.  I am not sure how that now translates into a new and fulfilling life lived out in the community.

If anyone asks me "what do you do?" a common opening comment when you meet someone, I do not have an answer.  What am I supposed to be doing? I am a widow, but that does not answer the question, does it?  I often say I am newly retired because I guess that is part of what happened when Ray died, I retired from my role as a Caregiver.  In fact I became instantly "retired".

That was a bigger event than it initially seemed as now I don't have contact with all the carers, helpers, social workers etc that dominated our existence for the last three years of his life at home. At the time, as they came and went, it seemed like an intrusion, now it seems to have been a privilege to have had so many people involved in looking after him and his needs.  They were replaced by the nurses, aides and other people who looked after him at the nursing home. And my friends, who seemed to disappear at this stage,  were replaced by the patients' families' at his nursing home and then he died and I left that behind too.

The funeral happened, the attendees went home, the family lingered for a little while and then there was nothing. The kids think as usual "MuM will cope", they thought that all through their father's illness. Sometimes one of them will ring to see how I am, we exchange some news, they go back to their lives. Occassioally the son who lives closest will have me over to a meal amd my other daughter-in-law once a fortnight for dinner with her and her family.

I know I should count my blessings, a lot of people do not have children and grandchildren and are truly alone. I do see some of my family and have a closer relationship than a lot of others have.It seems we do not live in family groups any more, we do not live in villages where everyone knows everyone else, we all live in urban sprawl, dormitory suburbs that feed workers into large cities. And that can make for a lot of loneliness.

Thank goodness for email and Facebook and sites like this where we can join with others who understand what it is like to be a widow and alone.  Without that life would be barren as well as silent. I guess silence is just another thing I will have to get used to.


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Comment by sonja7 on September 2, 2013 at 12:00pm

As lauriesv said, Wow!  Only1sue, you have captured what I've been feeling the last few months.  I'm in the 20 month period right now, we were married 49 and a half years to the day. Yes, we have two wonderful daughters, with full lives, and our younger daughter gave us a grandson two years before pop-pop died.  So I have that to be grateful for, as well as the fact that all immediate family are now in the same general vicinity.  But, as I said, with full lives, and we have never tried to make their adult lives part of ours in an interfering or needy way.  So what does a widow in her early 70's, retired for 11 years from a satisfying career of some 25 years, do to find some new purpose?  Even my first love, reading, can seem empty when the book is done and I want to share thoughts and questions and there is no one!  I joined a book club, but it only meets once a month, and it is more like class room discussion rather than a chance to meet and greet.

I have been trying to get to lunch with the regional group for two months.  Maybe I will make it for this next event next week.

I haven't given up, but it is, as you say, silent and solitary.

I love shopping at Trader Joe's.  Everyone is so friendly and talkative.  I wonder if they know that sometimes they are the only ones I talk to in an entire day.



Comment by lauriesv on August 28, 2013 at 5:57pm
Wow! So coincidental I came upon your blog this evening. Been feeling so much lately very alone in my grief, more so even than I had as this truly is a lonely road. However, it's just so much more in that everyone close to me has really moved on and never asks me how I'm doing or seems too concerned. Now, I will admit as widows we can be self-absorbed in our grief so I guess expecting others to only be thinking about our problems is probably too much to expect. Even in my family people are going through some of their own stresses so I've kind of gone by the wayside. I have one son who is married and has a nine month old baby. So, pretty much since she was born they have focused on that wonderful change in their life. Also my son took a new job a coup,e of months ago and he's stressed about it due to some expectations in salary and ow not meeting what he thought should be. Anyway don't ned to get into details but I just feel sad that he doesn't seem too interested or concerned about me anymore. Hard to to tell him my feelings so I don't. Just miss my husband so much and tonight had quite a meltdown. I relate to what you said about doing things and I do do things with people but life feels flat. I now feelnlike I had a very content pretty much ho hum life. Now can I live the rest of my life that way or do i need to find some monumental purpose? Ami doing things with people just to fail time? Sometimes I feel it's almost easier to isolate myself...that way no one can hurt me if they don't seem concerned. Sounds selfish I guess but I'm certainly not "over" the loss of my husband. I'm really trying but this is just so hard.
Comment by Morgana (Janet) on August 23, 2013 at 1:09pm

Only1sue, I hear you.  If it wasn't for the fact my son lives with me I would go days without speaking to anyone.  We only talk briefly before he goes to work and sometimes when he comes home from work.  I have neighbors all around me and we don't talk at all.  It seems everyone is too busy going about their lives and doesn't have time to stop and visit. 

Thank goodness for this site and the chat room.  They do help us not feel so alone.  The silence is something that is hard for all us to get used to.  Maybe someday we will.

May you have softer days.  Hugs.

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