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I have never lived alone. I am the oldest of four and was sent to boarding school at the age of 12 where I stayed until 18. I always shared a room, first with my sister 18 months younger than I, then in a long dormitory with twenty other girls, then in rooms with two to four room-mates. After I married, I shared beds, closets, cars, space of every kind. Divorced for over three years I had my children every week and on the week-ends when they were away stayed busy with friends and I always knew the children would be back soon. When I remarried, I found the kind of partner I had never known. We worked together and traveled together and were seldom apart until his advancing dementia required moving him to assisted living just over a year ago. So now at 78 I am finding myself living alone. The children are grown and have busy lives. My husband is gone and won't be back. I have no interest in sharing space again and I don't want to move to assisted living myself. But I am spending way too much time alone, not wanting to go out, not wanting to do anything unless I am pulled out of my room. There were times in the past when I wished I had more space to myself, more quiet, more independence. Now I have it, and it isn't being easy learning to live with it. This is a new challenge. I think often of all those who have had to rewrite their lives, many at younger ages and with harder tasks and I tell myself that I have to be at least as strong but I do wonder if I can. I am hoping I will come to be more comfortable with it, but it seems a long way off.

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Comment by Bonnie on August 26, 2015 at 6:17pm
So August is nearly over and I am not sure how it moved away so quickly but I am happy, happy, happy to see it go. July will now always be the month my husband died and always now be a sad time for me. But I did get past it, and I have now been living on my own for over a year. I can't say it is any easier but I do seem to be getting a little better--at least I have more frequent days when I actually move, engage, get some things done. I have been reading the book recommended here on Spiritual Housecleaning. At first I didn't think it would work for me but then today I suddenly decided to rearrange all the furniture in the kitchen, clean out drawers, rearrange cabinets, wipe down everything. This is after days of scarcely being able to load or unload the diswasher, just leaving dishes sitting in the sink. It surprised me that I just launched into such a whirlwind of kitchen cleaning. I hope it continues, at least until I get through a few more rooms!
Comment by Bonnie on August 15, 2015 at 6:04am
It is true that age does make a difference Maggie. At 78 I am so keenly aware that I have much less time than when I was in my 60s or even earlier in my 70s. I don't want another relationship either--we too were so right for each other. It was a second marriage for both of us, and we each truly appreciated it more because of that. If I can't live with him I only want to live alone. There are things about it that are good and I am trying to focus on them. I do enjoy my quiet mornings when I can do exactly as I please (but he always brought me coffee, which I really miss). I need a porch. I have the good books and have always been a reader but this year it has been so hard to concentrate I haven't been able to read as I once did. Maybe that will change. At 68 you will I hope finally find more new ways of enjoying life differently than you did before. I know your husband would want you to.
Comment by Maggie on August 12, 2015 at 11:20am
Hi Bonnie..I am 68 and have been a widow for a little over 2 years. I use to think, "oh if I was only 78 instead, it would be easier as I would be older and death would be more expected. But of course this is NOT true. The age means nothing. It's all about the missing, the sadness and loneliness And figuring out how to live out the rest of your life with some contentment or peace of mind. I don't aim for happiness. I too do not want another relationship. We were happy and he was perfect for me. It is just too much work and I'm just too tired. It's like when you don't have your spouse, it's like you have no place to come home to. We are adrift. And a "home" you've lived with for many years and have loved and grown comfortable with warts and all and all your memories and past are with, cannot be the same as we age. I'm learning to settle for such simple things..a cool breeze, birds, nature, a good book, if I can make myself focus and sitting on my porch, which is my favorite. We are all here to listen and share so many similar feelings
Comment by Bonnie on August 10, 2015 at 6:22pm
Hi Cindy, thank you for such a kind message. At 52 it must be very difficult to lose a husband and so special a relationship. I am learning that one year although it seems so long is only a short way down the road to healing. I think it is a good thing that you are working. I am too old now to want to go back to work but when both my parents died within the same year when I was about your age I found working the most helpful thing I could do and I was grateful for it. I feel as you--alone in a crowd but I do find activity is good and that is why I am trying to pull myself into doing more things and finding new activities. My heart goes out to you too and I tell myself that I do need to make every day count. I'm not sure what the plan is for me either, but with your wonderful and sensitive attitude I know we will each find it. Peace to you, and at least a moment of joy in each of your days. I do appreciate your thoughts--thank you.
Comment by Hornet (Cindy) on August 10, 2015 at 4:53pm

Hello, Bonnie. I am 52 and coming up on 2 years without my husband. I was reading your post and it really touches my heart. Even though I am several years younger, I feel just as you do...I miss my husband. I miss his hugs and dent he made in the bed next to me. I miss smelling his cologne wafting through the house in the morning. His laugh. His warm, healing touch. No one else will do. But I, too, have no desire to assume a caretaking role. I am exhausted. Even though I still work, I am still around people everyday...I walk in a bubble...alone in the crowd. I really can't see that changing completely. I miss Rick so badly I find it hard to conceive of anyone else. I know better than to say 'never'. I don't know God's plan for me. But I can tell you with absolute certainty that I am not looking for anyone...not thinking about anyone...not going to compromise my lifestyle. I, like you, do enjoy the freedom to make my own decisions (as hard as that can be sometimes), but I find that the decision I always make is to stay home during my free time, which seems to grow greater with every day that passes. The only one I wanted to spend my time with is no longer here and I feel perpetually at loose ends...and these ends are hard to get used to. But I must...and some days I do well...others not. I suppose I just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you. And at least from my perspective, we have much in common. More than I can express right now. But I wish you well, Bonnie. I hope you can see very soon that your life matters. Maybe that is what all of us here need to remember...we are alive...we matter...we can make a difference in our world. I pray that we all find a way to make that happen...soon. Peace to you. Cindy

Comment by Bonnie on August 10, 2015 at 10:52am
laurajay, we are both thinking alike here. I have a good friend who was widowed suddenly at 59 and although it was about four years on she did enter into another relationship and has now a companion for travel and social activities. That might help to accept the loss, I don't know. But I knnow I will never find anyone else as perfect a partner for me as my husband was and I don't have any interest in doing so. I feel a little selfish right now--I don't really want to compromise. I have spent most of my life caretaking and in what time I have left I just don't want to do it anymore. I have never been able to do just what I want to do, not share space, make my own plans. I might be more willing later, but right now I feel really fragile a lot and just want to retreat into my space. i miss him, our settled ways, miss his hugs, his touch, sleeping next to him--that is really what I miss the most, and yes, just his physical presence sitting next to me in his chair reading. I mostly miss his companionship. Your advice is good--I do have hobbies and am trying to get back to them, and trying to re-orgaize my environment. I appreciate your sharing your experiences with me. Three years from now I hope I will have made a better adjustment. By then I'll be past 80 and I will have had to make some changes.
Comment by laurajay on August 10, 2015 at 10:12am

Bonnie/  agreed.  One thing though  the younger widows have the opportunity and time to seek out a decent companion after they have grieved if they want to...when you are an old woman  less chance of meeting a man your own  still alive and moving that doesn't need a caregiver.  No thanks.  Believe me  you would do things differently in time if you were 20 yr younger because your body would be able to do more and it would be more attractive.  It's this pervading knowledge of never being loved/nurtured again that stabs so deeply.  I miss his physical presence.   Short of  changing moral values  there appears to be no feeding this need.  Sigh.   lj

Comment by Bonnie on August 10, 2015 at 6:29am
Laurajay, you are absolutely right. I know I am not interested in another long term relationship even if it were likely to happen which it isn't. I just have to get used to living alone. I find it helps to have a lot of activity around me and I have a place I can stay as often as I like that is in the middle of a lot of street activity. My home is much quieter--on a street that is not a through street and with a wooded area behind me. I would move if I had the energy to do it but I don't--it wears me out just thinking about it. I'm like you too in that I have little desire to go out--have to make myself do it. My youngest son lives in my town and he and his 15 year old son have been my salvation. My other children are away and phone but can't fill the void the way my youngest and my grandson help to do. I am not sure thata even if I were younger I would be able to do it differently. I am trying to follow your advice and explore it gently while finding the dtermination to just keep moving in a positive direction. But I know I will never get over missing my husband. I just keep telling myself to be grateful I had his support as long as I did. I am reading here that I was luckier than some, and many younger as well facing a longer future alone. Thanks for your sharing. Your perspective after 3 years tells me that I am basically normal in my responses and that helps.

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