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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."

Stone walls do no a prison make, nor iron bars a cage (Richard Lovelace)

I feel as if I am back in the tower again.  The one I have built to stay away from the world, the tower window does look down on the world and I really want to be there but I am afraid. I know what that fear is, it is fear of change.  I want to move on, go forward but part of me is afraid to leave the past behind if in doing so I am lessening the memories that Ray and I built together for forty years. I don't want to lose any of them.  I don't want to pack them away and be frightened to tell them, I want them to still be a part of who I am.

Ray's mother was married at 18, when she was twenty one and carrying Ray, four months before he was born her young husband was killed in a car accident.  She stayed with her inlaws for a while but some argument developed and she went to live with her father.  In due course she met an older man, got engaged and married him. They had three more children so Ray was second oldest in a family of five.  I knew his step-father well but heard really nothing about his own father, it was just not talked about.

When I got to know Ray and his mother I was surprised that nothing was mentioned of her short marriage to his father, even when we were alone, I knew his name was Tommy and he was the boy next door (really) and they had married very young.  It wasn't until her second husband died that she mentioned her first husband and as we were away from here at the time we didn't really have the time with her to discuss much.  Then she died less that twelve months later leaving us with little information and no contacts.This has made me see that sometimes to keep the peace in a second marriage the first must be forgotten and I don't want that to happen to me.

I have been talking to an old friend, we are just friends although he insists that we dated in 1967, I don't think we did, we just were members of the same group and went some of the same places.  I know it is not possible for relationships to be static so I know it will either progress or die.  I am not prepared at the moment for it to progress.  I am like one of those toys that teeter on the edge of the wall, not quite going over but balancing in a wobbly way.  I don't want to be lonely but I don't want to have a relationship that takes away some of the freedoms I am just learning to enjoy. Or one that shuts me off from the past and all my precious memories of Ray.

So even though I am now 2 years and five months out from Ray's death it seems as if I am still not ready at this stage to move on.  A friend suggested that I am letting memories of the past dictate my future.  Okay I know she is right, that is what I am doing.  I am also letting them overshadow my present.  And I don't know how to change that. It is a pity your mind cannot be decluttered the same way you can clean out drawers and throw away old correspondence and bills you have long since paid. Sure there are some things I have already left behind but obviously other things are still holding me back.  I wonder why?

In some way I have changed and people remark on how well I look, how happy I seem, how much I have gone back to being my old self again. They only see the outside they don't see the quaking uncertainty inside.  I think we all have that, that dark area where sadness lurks, ready to come out any time a sad memory surfaces.  I think that is getting to be a smaller part of who I am for sure.  But until I get that area of my emotional life under control I don't really think I can move on.

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Comment by Callie2 on February 23, 2015 at 1:43pm
Don't allow anyone tell you that after two years you should no longer be grieving or to move on. We all grieve at different rates and in different ways. My gosh, married for forty years and in a short two years afterwards, some expect you should be ready to move on? Here's my advice to you--don't place stress on yourself by thinking you need to make decisions about your future. In time, these things become clear then you can make choices. Of course, our pasts greatly influence our future. It will always and forever be a part of who we are. We cannot simply wipe the slate clean and start over. I don't want to forget. I am six years into widowhood and can recall year two. I think within the next year or so you will be able to realize some real progress. There is nothing wrong with the way you are feeling or thinking in my opinion. You will "venture" out when you are emotionally ready!
Comment by laurajay on February 19, 2015 at 9:01am

blue snow    great comment!

Comment by laurajay on February 19, 2015 at 8:59am

My personal observation  which may not be accurate Sue  is that you have much less fear of forgetting your life with your husband than the fear of rejection, added loss, uncertainty, compromise  etc of a new relationship.  Just from your posts.  You are very aware!  And I too think it's a bit frightening to think of the devotion and caring that a new relationship would bring.  I don't think I want that at all.  I don't want to give up my freedoms new or old  nor do I want to open unnecessary baggage of some man old --no way.  I think you have lack of confidence in your heart  even though your mind tells you you are a fine capable woman a man could desire.  What a predicament.   Just face the truth for now.  it's not just memories of Ray holding you back.  It's the fear of facing new beginnings being old.  To find a good man who has your same desires and expectations may be a challenge.  I know it is unlikely for me.  Most men want more involvement and I am now understanding after nearly 3 yrs what I don't want.  In the meantime  keep goodness in your daily activity.  Continue to exercise your virtues and to be loving.  Things happen given enough time good things are a part of life.   You are well on your way.  Hold tight to the past as tight as you want to--at some point  your heart may decide to let go and let all the light back into your life.   All is well.  Believe.    lj

Comment by Blue Snow on February 19, 2015 at 6:06am

Many couples who have lost spouses are able to find companions to do things together, but they don't feel the need to get re-married and live together as if they didn't each have a history to honor. My dad, for example, found a wonderful widow and they dated for 10 years before he died. They lived a couple of miles apart and neither one wanted to give up their homes. Keeping their estates in tact for their kids was important to them. They traveled together, went to parties in both families together and saw each other 4 for 5 times a weeks and they both could freely talk about their deceased spouses. I guess what I'm saying is a new relationship doesn't have to be all or nothing if you find the right person. A relationship with another man only has to escalate to as far as you want it to go and what you both can agree on. You spent too many years with Ray to just brush that all under the table. Relationships between senior citizens comes with a whole different set of values, complications and solutions but the bottom line is still the same as when we were have to find the right one whose values and goals are the same. So first figure out what your goals are in regards to finding male companionship and it sounds like you're well on your way to figuring that out. Then you'll be ready for whatever comes next.

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