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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."

I have been surprised by this winter, dark, rainy and cold it may have been but my social life is getting better, and some of my friends have been back in contact. Yesterday I had an overnight visit from my daughter and her family and we sat and watched old TV series from the 90s and talked about a lot of things.  The relationship there is getting better now and it seems as if we can talk about most things without too many subject changes.  Of course as time passes a lot of things lose their sting and so we talk more generally about our life without the death of Ray dominating the subjects.  Time does give some perspective I guess.

Last night we went out to dinner at one of our newer favourite places, a place not associated with Ray. Today we went to one of the markets I go to and met up with my new friend.  No fireworks happened so I guess it was a good visit.  My daughter said he seemed very nice.  I have said this is just a friendship.  I think maybe they were relieved at that. One thing about my new life now is that I am aiming at having more good days.  I think I always had too high expectations of what my life should be stemming from the fact that after Ray died I thought it would be my choice what I did, where I went and with whom and of course that is not the way it has been.  Friends who said they would love to travel with me backed down, so many small details of life proved different to what I had hoped.

I think I have been living in what seems sometimes like a post apocalyptic day dream.  I thought life would somehow return to what it would have been had the decision to live alone been mine.  I thought without the trauma and the drama of looking after Ray as an invalid and with some new friends, new places to go etc my life would improve .  Of course I didn't factor in the long grieving period, did I, and the fact we all have to go through that in our own way and at our own pace.  Where that idea of "good times ahead" came from I don't know, wishful thinking I guess, but now i feel more grounded and so more content with life as it is rather than wishing for it to be different.  Maybe this is acceptance.

So now I think it is time to say  "that's life" and just do what is achievable that I can do within my budget and by myself. I have a roof over my head and enough to live on so I really can be comfortable.  I have reasonably good health and a lot of people who like me and are willing to be probably less than friends but more than casual acquaintances, we all have them in our lives, the members of the groups we belong to, neighbours, friends through cyber contact etc.  I know it is harder to make friends at my age but what does that matter?  What I have is time to sit and chat and a lot of people my age and older are more than willing to do that.  We all need to feel connected. And what is more important now?

Last Monday at the Lions BBQ a customer said how much he liked the way we were all laughing and joking together, so it is noticed that we as seniors still have that light hearted approach to life. I'll do my best to maintain that attitude. I can enjoy the simple life, I've always had to do that due to lack of funds when the kids were growing up and maintaining them took so much of our income.  We were always short of money, so instead of restaurants it was take out, instead of the holidays in hotels it was camping.  I need to find a way to take cheap holidays and just enjoy being somewhere different to home, rather like my daughter is doing when they come down for an overnight stay. I just need to plan ahead and I am sure I will still have some good fun times.

I need to do some more sorting out and decluttering of my life.  Winter is not ideal for attending to things outside but getting the inside of the house tidy is achievable.  I think the winter blues sapped my strength for a while but hopefully now I have 8 - 10 weeks to concentrate on sorting out old clothes, relining drawers, taking stock of what I have and how much I need to keep.  My grandson took home a Pasta Maker today to experiment with while he is on a two week break from school, my grand daughter took home some beads to make bracelets, it is good to see stuff going out the door to somewhere where it can be put to good use. Sadly they did not want my many vases, bowls and 27 spare coffee mugs!  But here is time to sort and deliver some of my excess to charity shops.

I have always kept in touch with a lot of people. I guess it is God's purpose for my life in a way, to be a reliable friend.  That is the root of the pastoral care I do in church and my involvement with the groups and organizations I belong to.  I feel sorry for people who because of their family or working life have not been able to make friends as I have. I realise that all have not had the same opportunities.  But some have also closed people out, which is why for some of the ones I visit in the nursing homes the families do not appear to care, or maybe choose not to use their time to come to visit.  This seems so sad, but may be just a side effect of our way of life.  But as I have the time to spend with them now I can in a way make up for that and in doing so pay forward some of the help and support that I have experienced in my life.

I know a lot of this seems vague but I seem to have embarked on another phase in my life, of endeavoring to live in the present and live as well as I can without too much expectation of life.

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Comment by only1sue on July 10, 2016 at 6:39pm

Jim, it is the only way to live for me now to live in the present.  None of us know how much time we have ahead of us at our age but if we can find something special in every day then it is a life worth living.  I can be pessimistic some days, particularly when it is cold, dark, windy and wet, but I know that just spoils the day for me so maintaining as much as possible an attitude of gratitude makes for more good days.

Comment by Jim on July 9, 2016 at 5:56am

Thanks for a very nice summary of where you are at.  You seem to have arrived at a peaceful acceptance of your husband's death and are moving on with your life.  That's healthy and I applaud you for it.  My wife died 11 months ago.  I still have a "meltdown" every so often, especially when I think of her which can be often.  My main distractions so far has been preparation to sell my house.  This involved downsizing from a 3-4 bedroom house tho a one bedroom facility at a Retirement Community.  Am hoping to live closer to my son and his wife. I say, "meltdown," but maybe its also due to an emotional fragility I am  at  cause I also cry when I sometimes finish a FaceTime conversation with my sons, or when I think of how wonderful and supportive they have been since their Mom died.   I have gotten to know my two sons more and more with each passing conversation.  We never had such a close relationship when their mother was alive.  They've been a blessing to me.  I like your closing remark here, viz., to live in the present without too much expectation...  James. 

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