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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 was just thinking it is so sad that so many things on my bucket list are couples things. We were going to do so much when we retired that even now it is hard to take those things off my list and just settle for things I can do on my own. I want to travel but on the whole cruises, bookings for hotels etc are always priced on the basis of per person twin share.  I know there are singles trips, even singles cabins on cruise ships but sometimes they are more than twice the price of a twin share room and you are only really doing the same things you would have as a couple (showering, using power etc) and eating half the food so why???? 

I seem to accept life for a while, just go along day to day, keeping busy.  I am still lonely when I come home to an empty house, I switch the lights on and realise yes, there is just me as usual. Then sometimes I build up a head of resentment and even anger. I think a lot of my anger right now stems from what I see as the general unfairness of life.  Usually I am a little ray of sunshine but for the past few days I have not been, this is partly because one of my single friends is just setting off on a lovely holiday.  I know I should not be envious but I am. Yes I went to England in June/July but this lady has a lot of holidays in a year and I miss her when she is away. I do love her pictures of her trip but how much better if I had been there myself. Do our friends mean to boast I wonder?  Maybe I do that too.  Oooops!

It is as if my anger comes and goes.  I seem to reach a place of acceptance and peace.  I am just over three years past Ray's death and can go for days in a fairly mellow mood, appreciating what I have, being prepared to live alone, make my own life. But I still wonder why me?  Why did my husband have strokes, why did he die aged 70, why am I now alone and a lonely widow.  Why??? And of course there is no answer.  I know I am, as some of my friends say, lucky to have had him that long.  Looking around me I know I am lucky to have a roof over my head, food on the table etc.  I know I am lucky to still be fairly fit and healthy and really what have I got to complain about anyway? Yes, I would have said that to many others I am sure.

As I get older I am more and more aware of the fact that a lot of the advice we give to others is fairly useless, not appropriate, not tailored to their situation, not what they want or need to hear. How do I know this?  Because that is the kind of advice I get from my non-widow friends.  If I hear one more person say that those things I wish for are "just around the corner" you will hear me holler from where you are sitting right now reading this.  What corner do I have to turn? How far is it ahead of me?  When I turn it what will I see?  Can I go back if I don't find it is what I want or need? A lot of these common platitudes raise more questions than they answer.  Why in fact do we say this at all?  Is it to bring comfort or just to express the fact that there are turning points in our lives where change be it for the better or worse occur?

A wintry day in Spring today so the coffee morning I went to did not happen as it was in an indoor/outdoor setting. I went on to have something to eat at the local shops and then on to a Craft afternoon that turned into a meeting that turned into a venting session that seemed to go on and on.  And yes this is in a Christian church although a lot of very unChristian things were being said.  I know it is all about resenting change.  We have a new minister, a few new people on his team producing new ideas and yes, change is in the air and most of us resist change. Were we so happy before that we don't need to make some adjustments? No of course not but looking back to the past is always to see it with a golden light shining on it - those were our golden days we say.  But let's face it, those days are not coming back and so we have to attempt to move forward.  The group is long running but the members have aged, moved on, moved away, died out and we need to make some changes. And changing is hard.

It seems even when I don't want to make changes that changes happen anyway I came home this afternoon to find a note to say my electricity meter had been changed.  Why? Is this a smart meter that they can read from the road?  Is it accurate? Is it better than my old one? Will my bill be higher or lower because of this change?  Every change, however useful, however beneficial for our well-being still leaves behind some confusion and resentment.  Why make the change at all? we wonder.  What was wrong with the old one? Hmmm just maybe I am seeing a pattern here. It is as if my brain is saying to me: all change is bad, and if not bad at least suspicious.  It's not hard to be paranoid at this juncture.

Some changes of course are good and beneficial.  My daughter's family is getting used to the idea that they will be moving in January, one hour's drive north of me (Granma), into one of the close packed southern suburbs of the city of Newcastle.  Here in New South Wales we say the initials NSW stand for Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong as they are the three biggest cities in New South Wales.  Newcastle used to be a production town relying on iron and coal, it had a big steel industry and a busy coal port. Now neither are in demand the city is declining, all the greater need then for the Salvation Army to have a vital presence.  I  am sure my daughter and her husband will be kept very busy attending to people's welfare needs.  I hope they are not too busy to want to visit and be visited by me.  This is another change in my life that will happen next year.

And so some of the stability in my life is in question again.  Can I settle down to the single life and still be reasonably happy?  Can I live a full and interesting life without someone to share it with?  Can I stay fit and healthy and plan ahead, planning trips and perhaps taking up some interesting hobbies?  I know this will not happen without some effort on my part. Nothing changes if I don't put the effort in.  And do I want it to change anyway? Some people say "change or die" and it certainly seems like I have to cope with the challenges as best I can.  And hopefully without too much resentment and anger clouding my happiness and destroying my peace of mind.

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Comment by Callie2 on October 27, 2015 at 1:52pm
Hi Sue,
I can understand what you are feeling, believe me. It took me three years until I could think straight and a little longer than that until I really felt accepting of the situation. This too may be useless advice but I think I will mention it anyway. Over twenty years ago, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness and became depressed over the uncertainty and all the things I could no longer do. To be honest, I was scared about how this would affect my life. After a few years, I decided that what I could do was to do all that I could to be the best I could be. I decided also that I would meet the challenges as they arose and not waste energy worrying about it! I also made effort to think in the positive and focus on what I could do and not so much on things I could no longer do. I even figured out ways of accomplishing things I thought I was unable to do!

This isn't always easy, especially in the beginning. It takes time until we can change our way of thinking and we have to deal with all our emotions--intense sadness, fear, anger, loneliness, etc. We have the right to feel this way and in fact, we need to! It is hard to let go of all the things we once envisioned for ourselves as couples. We do live in a couples world, whether we live here in the US or anywhere. There are however, many of us that are alone for one reason or another. So, maybe you need to look at that bucket list and see what can be amended and which ones you may need to scrap. Yes, life is full of changes and I think we have been faced with more of them due to the rapid change in technology. We have had those meters here for several years now and they seem to be pretty accurate as far as I can tell. Our water is read that way as well. Yes, changes can be good and bad. I think we rely way too much on these new technologies.....

Maybe your well-meaning friends are trying to inject positivity into your life again Sue. You really come across as a positive person but they don't understand that feeling of having the rug pulled out from under us and we are having to piece together our lives making new plans for ourselves--but we will, and we will be OK.

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