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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 had a phone call yesterday from a woman who joined a Dementia group I belonged to in 2006. We have been in contact on a regular basis since then. She was widowed about 18 months ago so we have that in common too. She was worried about how empty her life feels in this time when "family togetherness" seems to be the theme of all the advertisements, TV programs etc. When are we going to stop this kind of thinking which is so isolating for the childless, the homeless, the widows and widowers and divorcees in our community? Not everyone will have a family get-together this Christmas. All I could do is reassure her that family is who you choose to be with so getting together with cousins counts.

I really hate that society practice of defining such events as Christmas to our detriment as singles.I know that  a lot of older people say they don't like Christmas and find nothing to celebrate, I have done that myself. When Ray died and the family scattered those family get togethers were no longer a regular occurrence. Nobody to blame, we just had a distance between us now. And as the moderns say - we all have a life to live. But that surely should include family. We only get one birth family. And they should be our foundational pattern for growing up and raising our own family. Or am I being hopelessly old fashioned?  

I am lucky to have been a part of some great support groups both in my local community and on the computer. There have been a lot of great people I have met that way that I would otherwise never have known. With some of them like Strokenet  some of my friends transferred to being friends on Facebook where we continue to contact on a regular basis. My older friends refuse to join Facebook considering it unsafe but that has not been my experience. I feel as if some of the people I have never met are as much my friends as the people I meet for coffee. Pity we have such a distance between us.

I am going to be at my daughter's for Christmas which entails a journey by bus and train. I could have driven up but chances of a combination of hot temperatures and heavy traffic made me choose the other way by preference. At my age traffic jams and bumper to  bumper traffic has no appeal. I will be there for a couple of days which is plenty. They will then start their official holidays and a well earned rest. Then I have a few  weeks break from my usual activites till the second week in January so a bit more time for reading and relaxing which is what I need right now.

I went to the Lions Christmas party last night and I had a good time. I  no longer expect to sit with the married couples, something I had trouble with in the past, I automatically sat with the single women. An older widower  also sat with us, he said he finds partners nights difficult without a partner. Every other meeting we just sit anywhere. But time has made me wiser and honestly I don't think about it now. I've said here before that parties with tables of even numbers are difficult but I have managed to overcome that feeling of being a single at last.

I have sent out some cards and got some back, not as many as there used to be but enough to know that people are thinking of me. Sadly each year there are less people including newsy letters. Of course I will also do an email for those I keep up with more regularly.. I wish there were more occasions to meet up but my extended family are scattered throughout Australia and some I only hear from at Christmas. Some of my  cousins from England and Canada I can contact on Facebook. I love seeing pictures of their grandchildren, it does make them seem closer, we are fortunate that way now.

My three children and their families seem to do the usual family things, it is always good when their lives seem settled and I don't have to worry about them. Of course nothing lasts and I am sure there will be upsets in 2019 as there is in every year. I just pray we all have the strength to get through it.

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Comment by only1sue on December 24, 2018 at 9:35pm

I had a great time with my daughter and her husband and growing up children, it's always good to hear their news. I had some good meals I didn't have to cook, I especially loved the Christmas Eve finger food meal accompanied by  Carol's by Candlelight on TV. The company is the blessing of course. Today's Christmas lunch was nice too. Now I am home and relaxing and that is good too.

Comment by Blue Snow on December 22, 2018 at 6:30am

Hi Sue, I just stopped by to wish you a Merry Christmas. Sometimes it feels just like yesterday that we were both working at Strokenet and other times it feels like a life time ago. I still come here to look for your blog posts but I don't always comment. I'm still blogging, too, twice a week at The Missadventures of Widowhood and I have FINALLY found a good measure in inner peace. We were both caregivers for so many years that I know you'll understand what I mean with I say that I still occasionally miss that sense of being needed. I don't suppose that will ever go away. Enjoy your trip to your daughter's for the holidays!

Comment by DIVA70 on December 19, 2018 at 10:25am

Glad to know that I am not the only one who has had to struggle with the onslaught of "happy" themes during this time of the year. This will be my first Christmas without my husband and I am feeling so anxious. I want the holidays to be over. At the same time I am petrified at what lays ahead. 2019 will be the first year without my anchor. Already I feel like I am drowning. I have a good support group and they have been wonderful. I have gone to a few Christmas events and for the time I am there I do fine. But when I open the door and step inside reality hits me smack in the face. Even when Tony was ill or unable to go somewhere with me he would always sit in the living room, looking out the window and waiting to meet me at the door. My friends would tease me about it lovingly. Now there are no more such greetings and all I have are the sweet memories. Already friends are planning our annual New Years activities...we arrive at church around 10.00p for Watch Meeting service. After praying in the new year we have a short service where we greet each other and proclaim how glad we are to have made it into another year. We will then have New Years Day breakfast. I have already decided not to go this year. Entering 2019 is going to be a challenge. I have three children and eight grandchildren. They have been great....but they have their lives to live and I know this is a path I must walk on my own. I wish you all peace during this time.

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