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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."

Just lately I have been asking other widows how they cope with things like loneliness, isolation, family events to which they are not invited etc.  Luckily the lunch group from church is very helpful as we are mostly widows and I can talk to them privately or as a group.  Most of them have been widowed a while with the exception of a woman my own age whose husband died four months before Ray did.  On the whole their advice has been quite helpful.

On the other hand I am getting advice from the non-widowed on how I should live.  I find some of it difficult to assimilate as it is not really welcome and I find some of it goes against how I feel and what I know.  A lot of the advice I get from family and non-widowed friends is about my safety.  I know where this is coming from as I have had a few small accidents in the past few months, and so they are concerned.  There is really no solution to the problem in my view as I do live alone, I do climb on steps or on chairs (which I realise is dangerous) and I have fallen off them. But in my opinion it is not frequent so what is the problem?

Since I stood on the rake in the back yard I think my children think I am careless and would like me to stop activities such as gardening and carting rubbish and get someone in to do it.  I don't see it that way. I want to be as independent as possible for as long as possible and if that means taking a few risks so be it.  I am not ready for a retirement village yet although I suspect that is further down the track for me, maybe after I turn 70. I will eventually sell this house and go into a small villa but I am still enjoying living here so why hasten that?

By letting other people into our lives we are opening ourselves to a lot of well-meant advice, so I have to field the questions and suggestions as best I can.  Luckily I have a wide diversity of friends so the advice from one sometimes can be the direct opposite of the advice from another so I get to choose which I like best.  But my kids do think I should take their advice into consideration. Bless them, they do see me as being a lot different from how I see myself but maybe some days I am kidding myself, particularly where jobs I once did easily, like carting vegetable matter the length of my house block, is concerned. I know I may be overplaying my strengths and abilities.

Which of course is why I would like a companion to work alongside me.  I don't think that is going to happen any time soon so I will go on alone.  Sometimes, like this week when I was really sick for a day, some kind of tummy bug, I just want someone to be here, to make me a cup of tea, to bring the painkillers, to just watch over me. And sometimes when I am having a lonely day I just want someone to be there for me.  I had my husband as an invalid for many years and looking after him was a lot of hard work but the companionship was still there.  He was in the house, I could hear his breathing at night.  I was not alone.

I think putting all of this in words helps me see where I am now. Nothing is changed but everything is changing.  I know it is happening in ways I can't yet see. The relationships in families are not static either and I have to be patient with my children as a new relationship evolves that will allow them to see me as their widowed mother without too many worries that they should make me "safe".  Because to make me too safe, to try to wrap me up in cotton wool, would be as stifling to my maturing as it would have been to them had I done it when they were young.  It has to be live and let live.

And as for the advice of well meaning friends it is smile pleasantly, nod slowly and say: "I will have to take that into consideration.  Thank you for your concern." or something similar.

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Comment by laurajay on March 7, 2015 at 6:03pm

It is very real.  A dimming of our abilities!  I cry  at things I cannot do now.  Just a short time ago  i could do most stuff  but now  lifting, moving  stretching bring pain  if overdone.  Very upsetting. I hate asking for help.  I worry how long until I will have to have help.  I get very upset being told to do this and do tht when it takes every bit of strength to get through the days "normal" chores alone.  I've somewhat lost my sense of humor  because I must stay focused and can't waste my energy--or I wind up having to rest.   I'm coming up on three years end of this month.  I never imagined I would be like this at three years---older  less capable  and so impatient when others who have no clue---give advice/suggestions.   ohSue. It'd hard  very hard.  lj

Comment by Callie2 on March 7, 2015 at 1:35pm
Hey Sue, we do what we have to do. I try being careful too, but I have had a few incidents. I shovel snow, I do whatever I have to do because I am alone. I actually don't mind as I too value my independence. I also have several health issues, but a lot of us do! I like your answer, have to remember that one, I'll have to take that into consideration. Very lady like.
Comment by barbee on March 7, 2015 at 8:02am

only1sue, Since I became a widow a little over two years ago, my children also have become very protective of me. One the one hand, I love that they care and are concerned about me. On the other hand, I still am their mom and don't like them telling me what to do! Unsolicited advice is in that same territory. Your answer to all this, "I will have to take that into consideration and thank you for your concern" with a smile is the way I usually handle it too.

However, with the people who think I need to get a dog or cat, I am not so considerate. After taking care of a very ill and disabled man for many years, I LOVE my freedom! No more poop and pee and finding substitute caregivers for me anymore!!! Sometimes I do wish for a furry something to cuddle and that's when I grab one of my stuffed animals.

Blessings and best wishes to all of us on this rocky path, looking for ways to smooth our steps.

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